OCEAN CITY- The 22nd Annual Mako Mania shark tournament is underway with dozens of boats and teams of anglers participating in the event with a new wrinkle this year.
Curiosity seekers will cram into Bahia Marina this weekend for a chance to see a potential winning shark hoisted at the scale in what has become a festival of sorts celebrating the arrival of another summer offshore fishing season. However, because of new federal guidelines on the minimum length for catching and keeping a shortfin mako, new release divisions have been added this year.
The old minimum length was 54 inches, but was increased to 83 inches in March in the interest of preserving the species. As a result, more shortfin makos will likely be released than weighed at the scale this weekend in the Mako Mania tournament.
Makos are the featured species in the tournament although there are also divisions for threshers and bluefish. Last weekend, the first thresher shark of the season was caught off the coast of Ocean City. The action gets underway offshore on Friday, the first of three fishing days. Weigh-ins are held each of the next three days beginning around 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at host Bahia Marina.
Last year, 77 boats and 337 anglers participated in the annual tournament and the total estimated prize money in the 2017 edition of Mako Mania was $134,480. In the signature mako division, it was angler Shane Moore on the Moore Bills taking first place with a 228-pounder worth $64,580. Second place went to angler Mike Adams on the Mako Me Crazy with a 196.3-pounder worth $9,558. Third place went to angler Cheri Coley on the Jenny Poo with a 191.2-pounder worth $13,952, while angler Denny Lorah on the Sea Ya took fourth with a 183-pounder worth $5,040.
In the thresher division, it was angler Mike Fritsch on the Teaser taking first place with a whopping 583-pounder worth $15,765. Angler Kevin Rohe on the Get Reel took second with a 501-pounder worth $8,559, while Vaughn Charlton on the Game On took third with a 434-pounder worth $5,706. In the bluefish division, it was angler Rick Windsor on the Teaser sweeping the top two spots with an 11-pounder worth $7,233 and a seven-pounder worth $3,087.