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 23rd year, the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 continues to be one of the top sport fishing events in the region with around $1.5 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.
Ten 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.
The tournament gets underway on Sunday with captain’s meetings, registration and a kick-off party at the two venues in Ocean City and Cape May, but the real action gets started on Monday with the first of five fishing days. Participating boats must choose to fish three of the five days and weigh-ins will be held each day at Sunset Marina and in Cape May.
Eight 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 homeport. For three straight 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, for the fourth straight year, a boat fishing out of Ocean City’s Sunset Marina finished first in the signature white marlin category. Angler Bill Haugland and the crew on the “Lights Out” weighed an 83-pounder mid-week and it stood up the rest of the way to claim the top prize and $654,416 despite some late challenges. On the tournament’s last day on Friday, angler Scott Cohen on the “C-Jam” pulled into Cape May and weighed an 81-pounder to take second place and earn $101,890. Angler Michael Taylor on the “Caitlan Taylor” took third place with a 73-pound white marlin worth $94,789.
In the blue marlin category, angler Sean O’Donnell on the “Got Game” took first place with a 441-pounder worth $236,522. Angler Carmine Falcone on the “Cookie II” took second with a 437-pound blue marlin and earned $151,805. Because there were only two qualifying blue marlin weighed, the third place money rolled into the first- and second-place purse in the category.
The tuna division produced the most drama in the tournament with several lead changes throughout the week as the remarkable big-eye bite continued. When the dust settled, it was angler Adam LaRosa on the “Canyon Runner” taking first place with a 243-pounder worth $191,214. Angler Michael Yocco on the “MJ’s” was second with a 213-pounder worth $82,157. Angler Jim Jensen on the “Plane Simple” was third with a 203-pounder worth $67,142.
First place in the wahoo division went to angler Gina Addeo on the “Gina Lisa” with a 77-pounder worth $9,360. The “A1A” took first place in the dolphin division with a 38-pounder worth $9,360. A total of 252 white marlin were released during the tournament, while 14 were boated. A total of 16 blue marlin were released and two were boated, while 16 tuna, five wahoo and three dolphin were weighed.