OCEAN CITY- Once again, the Ocean City-based boats dominated the leaderboard and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money when the scales closed on the 23rd Annual Mid-Atlantic $500,000 tournament last weekend including a new record blue marlin caught on the local boat “Why Not.”
The Mid-Atlantic $500,000 continues to be one of the top sportfishing events in the region with over $2 million in prize money doled out to the winners in several categories. Tournament headquarters has always been the Canyon Club in Cape May, N.J. and that hasn’t changed, but the increased number of boats fishing out of the resort area has given the event a decidedly Ocean City flair in recent years.
Eight 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 scaled in Cape May. Six years ago, however, Sunset Marina in West Ocean City was added as an official sister port for the event and the local anglers participating in the MA500 began to weigh potentially winning fish at their home port.
For several years, a boat fishing out of Ocean City swept in on the tournament’s last day with a winning white marlin to take the event’s top prize, but the “Krazy Salt” out of Cape May took those honors this year with an 81-pounder ultimately worth $660,344 in prize money in various categories. Otherwise, it was a near sweep for Ocean City boats in the rest of the categories. Captain Jon Duffie and the crew on the “Billfisher” weighed a pair of 80-pound white marlin last Thursday at Sunset Marina to take second and third in the glamour division. The twin 80-pounders earned the “Billfisher” crew $221,176 in prize money.
The big story, however, was the blue marlin division where Captain Wade Lober and the crew on the “Why Not” caught a new tournament record 847-pounder weighed at Sunset on Thursday worth $148,896 in prize money. The 847-pound blue marlin eclipsed the prior tournament record of 748 pounds set way back in 1997.
On Friday, the “Lady Luck” fishing out of Ocean City weighed a 586-pound blue marlin to cozy into second place on the leaderboard, but the crew on the “Goin In Deep” rolled in a short time later with a 596-pound blue to nudge the “Lady Luck” into third place. The “Goin In Deep” earned $342,721 in prize money because of added entry levels, while the “Lady Luck” settled for third and earned $72,960.
As an interesting side note in the blue marlin division, angler Jason Simons on the “Hook” caught a 354-pound blue marlin during the tournament that failed to make the 400-pound minimum. However, what made the story remarkable is that Simons is blind. All in all, there were 24 white marlin boated during the tournament while 592 were released. There were just five blue marlin boated and 25 released.
Early in the week before the billfish bite picked up, the big story during the 2014 MA500 was the tuna division. The “Canyon Runner” took first place in the division with a 123-pounder worth $377,070. The “MJs” took second with a 113-pounder worth $139,096. The “Goin In Deep,” which earned the second-place money in the blue marlin division, took third in the tuna division and earned an additional $144,694.
The crew on the Ocean City-based “Restless Lady” took first in the dolphin division with a 43-pounder worth $14,029. The Ocean City-based “Fish On” took first in the wahoo division with a 65-pounder worth $39,996.