OCEAN CITY — The 33rd Annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament is underway with dozens of boats and hundreds of anglers searching the canyons off the coast of the resort in search of the burly behemoths.
The tuna bite has been excellent summer, setting up what should be a memorable 2020 Ocean City Tuna Tournament. The event got started Thursday with a captain’s meeting and late registration at the host Ocean City Fishing Center, but the real action gets underway today with the first of three official fishing days.
The annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament is one of the highlights of the summer offshore tournament season each year, second only perhaps to the White Marlin Open in terms of prize money awarded and anglers participating. Hosted by the Ocean City Fishing Center, the four-day event 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 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’s event was one of the biggest ever with 109 boats competing for a share of over $800,000 in prize money.
In the single largest tuna category, the crew on the Moore Bills tied the crew on the Reel Chaos for first place, each weighing a 99-pounder. The Moore Bills earned $221,347 in prize money, while the Reel Chaos won $214,350. The Seakeeper took third with a 90-pounder worth $9,655, while the Restless Lady was fourth with an 89-pounder worth $32,220.
In the heaviest stringer category, the crew on the Theresa Jean took first place with a combined stringer of 426 pounds and earned $252,715 in prize money. The Sea Wolf was second with a 256-pound stringer worth $63,960, while the Marli was third with a 249-pound stringer worth $40,210.
The crew on the Sea Wolf took first place in the dolphin division with a 33-pounder worth $28,960 in prize money. The Hall Pass took second with a 25-pounder worth $1,000, while the C-Boys was third with a 24-pounder worth $500. The Troublemaker won the largest wahoo category with a 70-pounder worth $11,520.
The top lady angler award went to Kylleigh Wiygul on the Fin Chaser, who earned $1,500 in prize money. J.L. Cropper on the Myra HT took second and earned $1,000, while Joyce Collins on the Margarita earned third and took home $500. William Morrison on the A Salt Weapon III took the top junior angler award and earned $1,000. Zach Little on the Talkin Trash was second and earned $500, while Jackson Morgan on the Hammer Down was third and earned $250.