OCEAN CITY- With a record $3 million plus in prize money on the line, the 25th Annual Mid-Atlantic Tournament, featuring boats from both Ocean City and Cape May, N.J., was still pretty much wide open after the first two days of the event.
Now in its 25th year, the Mid-Atlantic Tournament is one of the late season highlights in the resort’s summer offshore fishing tournament series, perhaps second only to the White Marlin Open in terms of prize money and prestige. 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, Mid-Atlantic 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. 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 Mid-Atlantic began to weigh potentially-winning in at their homeport.
The tournament began on Monday with the first of five fishing days, but a line of storms followed by a cold front that pushed through the region on Sunday night kept most of the 157 registered boats from both ports at the dock on the first day. Just seven boats went out on Monday, including five from Ocean City and two from Cape May, but those that did try it found a few fish to start filling in the leaderboard.
Three Ocean City-based boats weighed qualifiers on Monday including the “Goin’ In Deep,” with a 67-pound tuna, the “Moore Bills” with a 75-pound wahoo and the “Triple By-Pass” with an 11-pound dolphin. However, all was relatively quiet at both ports on Day One. On Tuesday, however, nearly all of the 157 participating boats ventured out and things began to change quickly on the leaderboard.
In the glamor white marlin division, angler Jim Smith on the “MJOLNIR” out of Ocean City weighed a 77-pound white marlin at host Sunset Marina and vaulted into the top spot on the leaderboard. As of late Wednesday, the 77-pounder was worth an estimated $1.26 million, but there was plenty of fishing yet to come. Also on Tuesday, the “Reel Addiction” out of Cape May weighed a 65-pound white marlin, which met the minimum standard for the Mid-Atlantic, and as of Wednesday, the second-place white was worth an estimated $31,722.
It’s important to note, just seven boats fished on Monday and nearly all of the 157 participants went out on Tuesday. On Wednesday, most boats declared a second lay-day, meaning nearly all of the participants were out on Thursday and Friday, and given the recent history of the Mid-Atlantic, much will likely change before it’s all said and done.
Nonetheless, through Wednesday there were no qualifying blue marlin weighed at either port. The “Contago” created a stir when it weighed a 375-pound blue marlin on Tuesday, but it failed to meet the minimum weight requirement.
In the tuna division, the “Pez Machine” sat atop the leaderboard after the scales closed on Tuesday with a 230-pound big-eye temporarily worth $415,997. The “Miss Budweiser” was in second with a 156-pound big-eye worth $363,451, while the “Reelin’ Feelin’” was in third with a 76-pound yellowfin worth $220,000. The “Kallianassa,” which took first in the White Marlin Open, sat atop the leaderboard in the wahoo division with a 44-pounder, while the “D.A. Sea” out of Ocean City sat atop the dolphin leaderboard with a 35-pounder.