OCEAN CITY- The resort area’s collective hangover from last week’s White Marlin Open has just about worn off in time for the next big event on the summer sportfishing calendar- the Mid-Atlantic $500,000, a Cape May, N.J.-based tournament that will again have a strong presence in Ocean City again this year.
Now in its 17th year, the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 continues to be one of the top sport fishing events in the region with over $2 million in prize money expected to be doled out again this year. Tournament headquarters has always been the Canyon Club in Cape May, and that hasn’t changed, but the increased number of boats from the resort area has given the event a decidedly Ocean City flair.
Five years ago, MA500 organizers opened up Ocean City as a second port from which to fish and the change was met with great enthusiasm. For the first two years, however, any Ocean City boat that caught a qualifying fish had to transport it to the official scales in Cape May.
Three years ago, however, Sunset Marina in West Ocean City was added as an official sister port for the event and local anglers participating in the MA500 began to weigh potentially winning fish at their home port. The weigh-ins from each site are now visually linked via computer and broadcast media, which keeps everybody at both venues abreast of what is coming in at Ocean City and Cape May.
For the last two years, a boat fishing out of Ocean City swooped in on the last day to steal the tournament’s top prize, and a little bit of the thunder from their Jersey Shore brethren, with a big white marlin. Last year, local angler Susan McCart and the crew on the “Reel Joy” hauled in a 92-pound white marlin on the last day of the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 to leap into the top spot on the leader board and take the tournament’s top prize of $699,306. The “Reel Joy” had just come off a win in the Poor Girl’s Open a week earlier.
In 2007, a similar situation played out in the MA500 when another local boat, the “Phat Mann,” weighed a 92-pound white marlin on the tournament’s last day to take over the top spot on the leader board in the 11th hour and capture the event’s top prize. The 92-pound white marlin caught by the “Reel Joy” last year tied the tournament record set by the “Phat Mann” a year earlier and gave an Ocean City boat the victory in the tournament for the second straight year.
The MA500 gets underway on Monday with the first of five fishing days. Like the White Marlin Open, captains will choose to fish three of the five days. Prizes will be awarded in several categories including white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, dolphin and wahoo. There will also be significant cash prizes awarded in several release divisions.