OCEAN CITY- A continued red-hot white marlin bite highlighted the 25th Annual Mid-Atlantic Tournament, which concluded last Friday with a few new records in the books including over $3 million in prize money doled out to the winners in several categories.
The Mid-Atlantic is one of the late season highlights in the resort’s summer offshore fishing tournament series, perhaps second only to the White Marlin Open earlier in August in terms of prestige and payouts. While tournament headquarters has always been the Canyon Club in Cape May, N.J., Sunset Marina was added as a second official port about eight years ago and the event now has a decidedly Ocean City flair.
Ten years ago, Mid-Atlantic organizers opened up Ocean City as a second port from which to fish, but boats hauling of the resort still had to go to Cape May to weigh a qualifier. After two years under those rules, Mid-Atlantic officials added Sunset Marina as an official second port complete with daily weigh-ins and all of the other festivities associated with the tournament.
The Mid-Atlantic began last Monday with the first of five official fishing days and the red-hot billfish bite that started with the White Marlin Open when record release numbers were reported continued last week. Participating Mid-Atlantic boats released over 800 white and blue marlin during the tournament’s five days with a release rate of 93 percent. When the dust settled, a record $3.16 million was doled out to the winners in several categories.
In the white marlin category, it was a near sweep for Ocean City boats. Angler Jim Smith on the “MJOLNIR” out of Ocean City took first place with a 77-pounder worth $749,650. Angler Kristin Jezierski on the “Haulin’ and Ballin” took second place with a 72-pounder worth $81,216. There was a three-way tie for third place in the white marlin division, although the prize money varied because of added entry levels. The “Shark Byte” weighed a 68-pounder and earned $110,168, the “MR Ducks” weighed a 68-pounder and earned $53,768, and the “Sea Wolf” also weighed a 68-pounder and earned $31,208.
The blue marlin also produced its share of drama. Angler Bob Nabrzeski on the “Easy Rider” out of Cape May weighed a 754-pound blue marlin, which was the second heaviest ever caught during the Mid-Atlantic, and earned $531,513. The only other qualifying blue marlin, a 432-pounder landed by angler Anthony DeMarco on the “Fantasia” was worth $181,382.
In the tuna division, it was the “Pez Machine” taking first place with a 230-pounder worth $374,096. The “Miss Budweiser” took second with a 156-pounder worth $263,035, while the “Reelin Feelin” took third with a 76-pounder worth $176,015. The “Fishing for MD” took first place in the dolphin division with a 53-pounder worth $26,226. The heaviest wahoo award went to the “Moore Bills” with a 75-pounder worth $69,442.