OCEAN CITY- Returning for its second year, the Big Fish Classic set for next weekend will feature a new format featuring anglers fishing for 32 hours straight in search of the largest fish of any species.
The Big Fish Classic is set for July 24-26 on the pier at Talbot Street, which is essentially the epicenter for Ocean City’s rich fishing history. In the nascent days of the town’s fishing history, historic Talbot Street was always where the action was taking place with offshore boats unloading epic catches of billfish and tuna on the docks.
In the decades since, marinas have sprouted up all over the resort area and in West Ocean City, but Talbot Street is where it all began. In that spirit, the Big Fish Classic is a two-day, 32-hour tournament where the largest fish caught of any species will be rewarded. Boats and teams of anglers will decide to fish in one of two 32-hour slots, either Friday and Saturday, or Saturday and Sunday. There are several categories for which anglers and boats will be rewarded, but the essence of the event is bringing the biggest fish to the historic Talbot Street docks.
The event gets started on Thursday, July 23 with late registration, a captain’s meeting and kickoff party at host M.R. Ducks. Participating boats can leave the sea buoy at 3 a.m. on Friday, July 24 with lines in the water at 7 a.m. Lines have to be out of the water by 3 p.m. on the back end of the 32-hour time slot.
Participating boats can depart from any port from New Jersey to Virginia, but qualifying fish have to be weighed at Talbot Street. The boats must fish within 100 nautical miles of Ocean City, however. The scale at Talbot Street is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Each day will feature a festival of big fish, live music, food and drink in and around the Talbot Street Pier at M.R. Ducks and the historic Angler restaurant. The Angler will host the awards banquet on Sunday, July 27. Incidentally, the Angler was issued the first-ever building permit for a dock on the bayside in Ocean City over 70 years ago.
There are several divisions in the tournament with a guaranteed payout of $20,000 and with added optional entry levels the total purse doled out will likely soar. Last year’s event paid out roughly $93,000. The crew on the “Reel Intents” took first place with a 243.5-pound big-eye tuna worth $35,722. The “Restless Lady” took second with a 235.5-pound big-eye worth $26,648, and the “M.R. Ducks” took third with a 225-pound big-eye worth $5,496.
Other notable winners in various categories included the “Backlash,” which caught yellowfin tuna, a big-eye and even weighed a swordfish at the scale at Talbot Street, which was perhaps the first ever sword weighed during a tournament in Ocean City. The “Backlash” earned $10,395 for its efforts. The “Rebel” also earned $7,785 in prize money, followed by the “Research” with $4,592 in prize money, the “No Quarter” with $864 and the “Lil’ Angler” with $648.