OCEAN CITY- The 1st Annual Branch Kreppel Memorial Blue Marlin Tournament, named for a beloved local angler and diver who passed away last fall, was a huge success on all fronts last weekend with plenty of action offshore and outpouring of love and community support on land.
As an avid diver and owner of Diver Services, Kreppel was a popular man around the marinas in the resort area and often kept the local sportfishing fleet up and running. He passed away in November and the first-ever blue marlin tournament in his name, was one small way to honor his endless contributions to the community.
Nineteen boats competed in the inaugural event and over $60,000 in prize money was doled out in several categories. For the record, the crew aboard the “Billfisher” took first place in the tournament with two white marlin releases and one blue marlin release for 480 points and a check for $30,850. The “Billfisher” also weighed a 63-pound yellowfin tuna.
The “Tighten Up” crew took second place with 400 release points and earned $8,115, while the “Reel Joy” was third in terms of release points with 220, but was awarded $11,350 because of added entry levels. The “Legasea” weighed the heaviest tuna during the tournament, a 171-pound bluefin worth $4,905.
As the name of the event implies, blue marlin was the main targeted species during the tournament, but no qualifiers were weighed during the two fishing days. The minimum requirements for catching and keeping a blue marlin were set high with a 400-pound minimum weight and a 105-inch minimum length.
While the action offshore certainly garnered the most attention, there was no shortage of action at the docks with daily weigh-ins, plenty of food, drinks and favorite stories about the tournament’s namesake. A band of strong thunderstorms late Sunday afternoon forced organizers to move the awards banquet and associated silent and live auctions and other events from host Sunset Marina to the Ocean City Marlin Club, but the late move did not tarnish the excitement surrounding the event. In addition to the money raised for Kreppel’s foundation through the fishing tournament, thousands more were raised during the live auction of several items including fine jewelry, original artwork, fishing gear and other items.
The event was as much about celebrating the life of Branch Kreppel as it was about the fishing, which went hand in hand, and nature briefly provided a perfect backdrop to the festivities. About half way through the awards banquet on Sunday, following the storms moved the last day events, a double rainbow appeared in the sky, arcing its way across the harbor where Kreppel lived and worked.