OCEAN CITY- Despite ominous Hurricane Irma working its way toward the east coast, the 4th annual Huk Big Fish Classic got underway today with the first of three overnight fishing windows.
The Huk Big Fish Classic was set to go off for the fourth straight year in late July with participating boats competing in one of two 32-hour time periods to catch the biggest fish in any species. However, a rare mid-summer nor’easter forced the cancellation of the event in July and it was rescheduled for this weekend. Even with Hurricane Irma looming, event organizers by mid-week confirmed the tournament was a go as planned for this weekend with favorable conditions expected in advance of the storm.
The Big Fish Classic is set for Friday through Sunday 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 got started on Thursday with late registration, a captain’s meeting and kickoff party at host M.R. Ducks. 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. 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 28.
In just three years, the Big Fish Classic has become one of the fastest growing tournaments in the region. Last year, 67 boats competed and over $300,000 in prize money was distributed to the winners in several categories. Last year, it was the crew on the “Marli” taking the 3rd Annual Big Fish Classic’s biggest prize with a 407-pound blue marlin that ended up being worth $105,270 with added entry levels. The “Foolish Pleasures” crew finished second in the single heaviest fish category with a 193-pound mako worth $24,470.
The “Fish Whistle” brought in the third heaviest single fish, a 190-pound big-eye tuna. The “Fish Whistle” also brought in the heaviest stringer of tuna and earned $71,169. The “Katherine Anne” practically swept the white marlin category with a 78.5-pound white for first place. The “Katherine Anne” also released 12 white marlin and earned a total of $68,580 in prize money.
There was also significant prize money awarded in several other categories. The “Burn N Bills” brought in two yellowfin tuna weighing 62.5 pounds and 51.5 pounds and earned $20,250 in that category. The “MJs Inspiration” brought in a 121-pound big-eye tuna worth $13,275, while the “Miss Annie” weighed a 166.5-pound big-eye worth $9,180.