OCEAN CITY- The 29th Ocean City Shark Tournament last weekend was memorable for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was a new state record 876-pound mako weighed on Saturday that electrified the big crowd at the host Ocean City Fishing Center and continued a remarkable hot streak for a local captain and crew who have had a hand in practically every significant event of the early offshore season.
As the boat’s name suggests, there has been nothing typical about the wave of offshore fishing success the crew aboard the “Nontypical” has been riding thus far this summer. All the “Nontypical” has done so far this season is catch the first mako of the season, take first and third place at the annual Mako Mania tournament, catch the celebrated first white marlin of the year and, last week, stunned the crowds at the Ocean City Shark Tournament with a new state record 876-pound mako to take that event’s top prize.
Angler Jim Hughes, who has been right in the middle of the action for the “Nontypical” along with Captain Terry Layton, caught the behemoth on Saturday just outside the Poor Man’s Canyon in 500 fathoms. When the beast was hoisted on the scale at the fishing center, it weighed in at 876-pounds, topping the old state record that had stood for 25 years. Angler Frank Gaither held the old record with a 766-pound mako caught way back in 1984.
Obviously, Hughes and the crew on the “Nontypical” took first place in the Ocean City Shark Tournament’s premiere Mako Division and were rewarded with a check for $19,775. Second place in the division went to angler John Schmitz on the “Pumpin Hard” with a 271-pound mako worth $12,003, while angler Greg Garmin on the “Canyon Crusher” took third in the mako division with a 243-pounder worth $7,242.
While the state record mako was the talk of the tournament, the event’s Open Division produced its own drama. Angler Dion Stanton on the “Captain Ike II” took first in the division with a 227-pound thresher worth $18,605. Second place went to angler Craig Johnston with a 126-pound blue shark worth $10,863, while angler Ken Selby took third with a 116-pound blue shark and was rewarded with a check for $4,182.
The Bluefish Division paid out a total of $30,476, but the bulk of the prize money went to the seventh-place fish in terms of weight. Angler Jeff Kirk on the “Tuna Box” took first with a 10.2-pounder worth $6,263, but it was angler Russ Hamill on the “Stress Reel-ief” taking the top prize with an 8.9-pounder worth $15,750 because of added entry levels. In the Tuna Division, angler Tony Garrity on the “M.R. Ducks” took first with a 41-pounder worth $1,800.
Of course, while big sharks weighed at the scale, including the new state record 876-pounder, create the most buzz around the event, the annual shark tournament is as much or more about conservation and education and far more sharks were released than brought into the marina. Just 14 sharks were weighed in, including eight makos, while 136 were released during the three-day event.
Continuing its hot streat, the “Nontypical” took first place in the Release Division with 34 points for eight makos and one dusky and was awarded $3,750 in prize money. The “M.R. Ducks” took second in the division with 22 release points for five makos and one dusky and earned $2,250, while the “Seaduction” took third with 19 points for four makos, one blue shark and one sandbar shark and earned $1,000.
Each year, Ocean City Sharker of the Year is awarded to the captain and crew with the most points combined from the Mako Mania Tournament and the Ocean City Shark Tournament. This year’s award went to Captain Gary Stamm of the “Pumpin Hard” with 483 total points from the two events.