OCEAN CITY — The 4th Annual Ocean City Marlin Club Rockfish Tournament returns next week with a few new wrinkles this year for the nine-day event.
The tournament will run from Dec. 3 to Dec. 11. Boats and teams of anglers will decide to fish five of the nine days. As the name of the tournament implies, rockfish, or striped bass, will be the primary species targeted along with red drum and blue fish.
The top three heaviest fish in each category will win awards and federal minimum size requirements apply for each species. A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Jimmy Fund. Participating boats can leave from Ocean City, Cape Henlopen, Indian River or Chincoteague, but all qualifying fish must be weighed at Atlantic Tackle. Weigh-ins will be held on each of the nine fishing days from 3-5 p.m.
No rockfish may be caught outside the three-mile line demarking federal waters, but a new twist this year will allow anglers to move and down the coast to find the stripers. For the first time this year, there will be no northern boundary and no southern boundary, meaning a participating boat could ostensibly make a run up to Cape May, for example, as long as the three-mile federal waters line was observed.
Event organizers have also raised the stakes this year. Last year, the top prize was $1,000, but it has been doubled this year to a guaranteed $2,000. There will also be a gift basket valued at $500, including fishing gear and other merchandize from the tournament’s sponsors, given to the winner in the highest stringer weight division.
The event will go on for nine days beginning Dec. 3 and it appears conditions are setting up for what could be a great tournament. Already some big keeper rockfish are being caught in and around the resort area, but the bulk of the striper population is making its way south on its normal migration pattern and should arrive in the area in time for the Marlin Club’s annual tournament.