OCEAN CITY- The 32nd annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament returns next weekend with dozens of boats and hundreds of anglers descending on the resort for a three-day search for the burly behemoths in the canyons off the coast.
The tuna bite has been rock solid thus far this summer, setting up what should be a memorable 2019 Ocean City Tuna Tournament. The event gets started next Thursday with a captain’s meeting and late registration at the host Ocean City Fishing Center, but the real action gets underway next Friday with the first of three official fishing days.
The annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament is one of the highlights of the summer offshore tournament seasons each year, second only perhaps to the White Marlin Open in terms of prize money awarded and anglers participating. Thousands of spectators will cram into the Ocean City Fishing Center over the course of the four-day event, which has become a celebration of fishing, food, drinks, live entertainment and, of course, the daily weigh-ins at the scale. Weigh-ins will be held next Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Fishing Center and Sunset Marina, and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday at the Fishing Center only.
From modest beginnings in 1988 when just 38 boats competed for $9,000 in prize money, the tuna tournament has grown by leaps and bounds over the last two decades plus. Last year, 104 boats and hundreds of anglers competed for over $857,000 in several categories.
While the Tuna Tournament might lack the prestige and glamour of the White Marlin Open set for next month in Ocean City, it does not lack excitement and suspense. It can be said the Tuna Tournament is the “beast” to the White Marlin Open’s “beauty.”
Last year in the signature single heaviest tuna category, the crew on the Playmate took the top prize with a 144-pound bluefin ultimately worth $328,960. The Magic Moment crew was second with a 73-pounder worth $45,240, the Fin Chaser and the Panty Snatcr finished in a tie for third place each with 65-pounders. However, the Fin Chaser earned $8,727 in prize money while the Panty Snatchr earned $1,902 because of added entry levels.
In the heaviest stringer weight division, it was the crew on the Goin’ In Deep taking first-place with a combined 325 pounds worth $237,438. The Marli was second with a stringer weighing 314 pounds and earned $83,677. The No Quarter took third in the division with a stringer weighing 301 pounds and earned $46,150.
In the dolphin division, it was the crew on the Spring Mix II taking first place with a 49-pounder worth $27,610. The Seakeeper was second with a 42-pounder worth $1,000, while the Reel Chaos was third with a 36-pounder worth $500. The Troublemaker took first in the wahoo division with a 41-pounder worth $10,440.
First and second place in the Top Junior Angler division went to the Let-It-Ride with a pair of 54-pounder worth a combined $1,500. First place in the Top Lady Angler division went to the That’s Right, while the Reel Chaos was second and the Lucky Duck II was third.
The Magic Moment took first place in the division for boats 35-feet and under and its prize was included in the overall payout for the second-place tuna. The Primary Search took first in the stringer division of the 35 and under category and earned $5,850 in prize money. In the category for boats 36-feet to 51-feet, the Reel Desire took first in the single heaviest fish division and earned $13,590. The Lucky Duck II took first place in the stringer division for boats 36-feet to 51-feet and earned $8,100.