OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Shark Tournament was held last weekend, but with high winds and rough seas keeping the number of participating boats down and keeping those that did sign up at the docks for much of the event, the 32nd annual event resembled the first over three decades ago.
The Ocean City Shark Tournament started in 1981 with just 11 boats in the inaugural event. The tournament has grown over the years to become one of the highlights of the offshore tournament season in Ocean City, but Mother Nature returned the annual event to its modest roots last weekend with just 11 boats entered. With persistent northeast winds topping out at 15-20 miles per hour offshore and seas topping five feet or more, organizers moved the start of the tournament back a day last week with Friday becoming the first fishing day.
On Friday, just one of the 11 registered boats, the “No Shop Talk,” braved the rough conditions on Friday and released a sandbar and spinner shark before heading back in. On day two last Saturday, eight of the 11 boats fished with 22 of shark releases, but again, no sharks were weighed at the scale at the host Ocean City Fishing Center.
On Sunday, the last official fishing da of the tournament, another eight boats went out with seven sharks caught and released. Late Sunday afternoon, there was at least some action at the scale when the crew on the “Triple Threat” returned with three bluefish, the largest of which was 1.5 pounds.
While the action offshore and around the scale at the marina was light, there was plenty to see and do around the marina during the tournament. Each day, tournament founder and organizer Captain Mark Sampson held educational seminars about everything related to sharks near the scale for enthusiasts young and old.
Throughout the tournament, the first annual Outdoors Delmarva event was held under the tent at the Ocean City Fishing Center, providing educational opportunities about sharks and other fish species, marine mammals, animals, plants and a lot of other things going on in the natural environment around the resort area. In addition, Arts on the Dock was set up each day during the tournament, providing other entertainment and shopping opportunities.
While the number of boats in the tournament was small by recent standards, there were plenty of prizes awarded for those that braved the elements. In the Release Division, first place went to the crew on the “Lucky One” with 28 total points for 12 spinner sharks and one hammerhead for a total of $1,575 in prize money. Second place went to the crew on the “Restless Lady” with 26 points and $720 in prize money. Third place went to the “Nontypical” with 16 points worth $480.
The daily release winner for Friday was the “No Shop Talk,” while the “Lucky One” was the daily release winner on both Saturday and Sunday. The “Keep Er Wet” was the daily mako release winner on Saturday and the “Nontypical” was the daily mako release winner on Sunday. The crew on the “Dirty Oar” won the Fish Bomb award for the most makos with two.
The Youth Division’s “Reel Addiction” award went to angler Sean Dewitt on the “Restless Lady” with two dusky sharks. The winner of the annual Ocean City Sharker of the Year award went to the “Keep Er Wet” crew for the most combined points earned in the Mako Mania and Ocean City Shark Tournaments.