OCEAN CITY- The 16th Annual Mako Mania shark tournament gets underway next weekend with dozens of boats and teams of anglers expected to compete in the first significant offshore tournament of the summer-long series of events in Ocean City.
With warm water starting to show up in the canyons off the coast of the resort, the early offshore fishing season is starting to heat up just in time for the annual Mako Mania tournament hosted by Bahia Marina. Sharks of all sizes and species are typically the first game fish to arrive off the coast of the resort and this year should be no different.
Over the last three weeks or so, a significant number of makos and other shark species have been caught in the waters off the coast of the resort, signaling the fish are arriving just in time for the annual Mako Mania tournament.
Last year, first place in the signature Mako Division went to angler Franky Pettolina, fishing aboard the “Blackjack,” with a 171-pound mako worth $12,854. The crew on the “Tighten Up” came in second in the division in terms of weight with a 169-pound mako, but took home the tournament’s biggest prize, a check for $31,545, because of added entry levels. The “Moore Bills” took third with a 168-pound mako and was awarded $9,773.
The crew on the “Game On” came in fourth and was awarded $3,252, which included a share of the third-place money. No threshers were caught during the tournament, but one boat, “Wayne’s World,” had an epic battle. The “Wayne’s World” battled a thresher, whose body length alone was estimated at 18 feet, for five and a half hours before losing it at the boat.
While the event is all about fishing, and particularly sharks, as its name implies, the activity on land is no less exciting. Curiosity seekers will cram into Bahia Marina each afternoon during the tournament for a chance to see a potential winning shark raised at the scale in what has become a festival of sorts celebrating the arrival of another summer offshore fishing season.
The event gets underway next Thursday with a captains’ meeting with the first of three official fishing days starting early next Friday. Other fishing days include Saturday and Sunday, and the boats and their captains must choose to fish two of the three fishing days. Mako sharks are the featured species in the tournament although there are also divisions for threshers and bluefish, for example. Like most tournaments in the area, the conservation of the various species is paramount to success, and to that end, an award and a check for $1,000 is given out for the most shark releases called the W.W. Harman Award.