(July 5, 2019) The 32nd annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament kicks off next weekend, July 12-14.
Early registration for the tournament ends today, July 5, at 5 p.m. The cost is $900 to enter.
Most will wait until final registration, which will take place Thursday, July 11, from 3-7 p.m. at the Ocean City Fishing Center in West Ocean City. A captains’ meeting will follow.
For those who miss early registration, the cost is $1,000 per boat (maximum six anglers).
Tuna fishing is “decent” right now, Tuna Tournament Director Jennifer Blunt said Tuesday.
“We’re seeing bluefins caught inshore, which is great for the smaller boats,” she said. “We’re seeing some bigeyes being caught and yellowfin are out there in decent numbers.”
Several boats have caught double-digit yellowfin tuna recently, Blunt said, averaging in size from 20-50 pounds.
There has been much interest in the tournament and the phones have been ringing at the Ocean City Fishing Center from people inquiring about the event.
“I hope to see some new participants this year,” she said. “We saw a lot of new, smaller boats last year. There’s more opportunity with the different categories and they don’t have to compete with the 60-footers.”
Most teams participate in the tournament annually.
“Many of them have been fishing for years,” Blunt added.
Altogether, there are 17 added entry-level calcuttas for the 2019 competition. The cost to enter them ranges from $200 to $5,000.
Teams may sign up for one or all of the added entry-level categories, which, if they place on the top of the leader board, could substantially increase the amount of prize money they receive.
Level A $250 Single Largest Tuna - Daily
Level B $250 Heaviest Stringer - Daily
Level C $500 - Winner Takes All
Level D $500 Boats 35’ & Under - Winner Takes All
Level E $750 Boats 36-51’ - Winner Takes All
Level F $1,000 Boats 52’ & Up - Winner Takes All
Level G $2,500 SQUIDNATION Heaviest Stringer Jackpot - Winner Takes All
Level H $5,000 YETI Pro Jackpot Single Largest Tuna - Winner Takes All
Level I $500 50/30/20 Split
Level J $1,000 50/30/20 Split
Level K $2,500 50/30/20 Split
Level L $300 Single Largest Dolphin
Level M $200 Single Largest Wahoo
Level N $500 Single Largest Bluefin Tuna
Level O $500 On the Board Reward “A”
Level P $1,500 On the Board Reward “B”
Level Q $200 Charity Donation - 50/50 Split. Fifty percent will go to the singles largest tuna and 50 percent to a selected charity. This year the Level Q will benefit the Berlin Little League.
Levels C, D, E, F, I, J and K are split between Single Largest and Heaviest Stringer.
Levels D, E, F, I, J and K - Can only win in one category, Single Largest or Heaviest Stringer, not both.
The cost to go across the board with the $1,000 entry fee for boats 52 feet and larger is $17,700; $17,450 for boats 36-51 feet; and $17,200 for boats 35 feet and smaller.
The Level H Pro Tuna Jackpot Winner Takes All costs $5,000 to enter, but it pays off for the angler with the heaviest single tuna as long as he or she signs up for the calcutta. In 2018, 44 of the tournament’s 104 boats entered the calcutta and the pot totaled $198,000.
For 2019, tournament fishing is permitted Friday through Sunday, July 12-14. Anglers will fish two of the three days. Boats can leave either the Ocean City or Indian River inlets.
Catches will be weighed at the Ocean City Fishing Center from 4-8:30 p.m. next Friday and Saturday, and until 7 p.m. Sunday. There is no cost to watch the weigh-ins, which are open to the public.
Prize money will be awarded to the first-, second- and third-heaviest single tuna and the largest total catch weight.
Each boat may weigh up to five fish per day to compete for a two-day total pound catch.
There is a 30-pound minimum weight requirement for all eligible tournament tuna (yellowfin, bluefin and bigeye).
Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place in the Park Place Jewelers Ladies Division. A $1,500 award will be presented to the female angler who catches the largest tuna. Prizes of $1,000 and $500 will be distributed to second and third place, respectively.
A Junior Angler division is available for those 16 and younger. The winner will receive $1,000. Cash prizes of $500 and $250 will be presented to junior anglers who land the second- and third-heaviest fish.
“I’m excited for the number of lady and junior anglers. It keeps going up,” Blunt said. “We had 40-plus ladies and 20-plus junior anglers last year.”
There will also be prize money of $2,500, $1,000 and $500 for the first-, second- and third-largest dolphin.
Since several wahoo have been caught during the tournament over the years, organizers added a division for the fish in 2016. The calcutta is also available this year.
There will be free parking during weigh-ins in the West Ocean City Park & Ride. Free shuttles to and from the Fishing Center and Park & Ride will be available during weigh-ins.
For more information about the Tuna Tournament, call 410-213-1121 or visit www.octunatournament.com.
The 2018 Ocean City Tuna Tournament saw a big jump in participation and prize money awarded compared to the 2017 competition.
In 2017, 88 boats entered into the competition and more than $785,000 was distributed to the winners. For the 31st annual tournament in 2018, 104 boats registered and over $857,600 was paid out.