OCEAN CITY- Before the big boys hit the seas for the 45th White Marlin Open, lady anglers throughout the resort area will have their moment in the sun next weekend with the arrival of the Ocean City Marlin Club’s 10th Annual Heels and Reels Tournament.
The ladies-only tournament gets underway next Thursday with registration and a captain’s meeting, but the real action gets started next Friday with the first of two official fishing days. Captains and teams of anglers must choose to fish one of two days, either Friday or Saturday. The Heels and Reels Tournament is the club’s only ladies-only event in its summer-long tournament series and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Ocean City Marlin Club’s Bertha Holloway Auxiliary Scholarship Fund.
Essentially, it’s a boat tournament, meaning awards will be distributed to the top boat teams and not individual anglers. According to tournament rules, anyone may hook the fish, but it must be immediately handed off to a lady angler on board. The Heels and Reels Tournament is largely a billfish release event with points awarded for white and blue marlin, swordfish and sailfish and spearfish releases. There are also heaviest fish categories for tuna including yellowfin, longfin and big-eye as well as dolphin.
Weigh-ins will be held each day at Sunset Marina in West Ocean City from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The tournament will conclude with an awards banquet at the Marlin Club in West Ocean City next Saturday night.
Last year in the billfish release division, it was the crew on the Haulin n’ Ballin taking first place with 300 release points worth a tournament-high $18,045. The Brenda Lou also scored 300 release points, but its release was later than the Haulin n’ Ballin’s release so it finished in second and earned $4,347. The Espadon took third in the billfish release division and earned $2,898.
In the dolphin division, it was the Last Call taking first with a 16.2 pounder worth $9,045. The G-Force was second with a 15-pounder worth $2,592, while the Lights Out was third with a 14.6-pounder worth $1,728.
In the tuna division, it was the Brenda Lou taking first with a 62.2-pound yellowfin worth $4,320. The Haulin n’ Ballin took second with a 59.2-pounder, but earned $9,045 because of added entry levels. The Haulin n’ Balling also took third in the tuna division with a 56.8-pounder caught by junior angler Chloe Coier.
The junior angler award went to Kelsey Deppe for her first white marlin released while fishing aboard the Kingfisher. Deppe, who honored the tradition of jumping into the water for her first white marlin was awarded $500 in prize money. The team spirit award went to the Haulin n’ Ballin and was awarded a prize package donated by Atlantic Tackle.