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(July 16, 2021) Records were set for both participation and payout for the seventh annual Huk Big Fish Classic tournament in 2020, and they are likely to be broken again this year.

“If you look at the projected increase over the years for the tournament, we should be at $1.25 million, but it could be more, if the weather is good,” said co-director Brian Roberts. “There’s a ton of interest and excitement.”

Several new added entry-level calcuttas, or wagering pools, have been added this year, which will help increase the amount of prize money paid out.

Basic entry cost is $900. Altogether, to go across the board and enter all the calcuttas offered will cost $24,800 this year, an increase from $17,000 in 2020, Roberts said.

There is a new winner take all division for white marlin. It costs $5,000 to enter. There is also a $1,000 winner take all tuna calcutta this year. A $500 daily heaviest fish calcutta has also been added.

And instead of a limit of four fish for the Talbot Street Stringer (any species) and tuna stringer categories this year, it has been increased to five.

Added entry-level divisions range in cost from $300 to $5,000, include billfish, tuna, meatfish (dolphin, wahoo and shark) and small boat (38 feet and under). There is also a billfish release division.

Roberts said early registration is up about 25 percent from last year. A majority of the teams will register on the final day, Thursday, July 22. Onsite registration, located between M.R. Ducks and The Angler on Talbot Street will run from noon to 8 p.m. A captains’ meeting will follow.

Coming off a record year in 2020, Roberts said he is shooting for 115 boat entries this year.

“To go from 32 the first year to 115, that’s just wild,” he said.

Teams can choose between two 32-hour slots: 7 a.m. Friday, July, 23 to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 24, or 7 a.m. Saturday, July 24 to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 25.

Crews can fish the entire 32 hours or come back to the dock and head out offshore again after a break with the same or different anglers.

Boats can depart from any port between New Jersey and Virginia. Teams can fish up to 125 nautical miles from the Ocean City sea buoy. All fish must be weighed at the Talbot Street Pier.

Tournament weigh-ins will take place from 4-9 p.m., Friday, July 23 and Saturday, July 24. The scale, located between M.R. Ducks and The Angler in downtown Ocean City, will be open from 4-8 p.m. Sunday, July 25.

There will be tournament merchandise and other vendors set up in the Big Fish Classic Village near the weigh-ins.

Each year participation and prize money has increased. A record 105 boats were entered into the 2020 tournament and $891,560 was distributed among the winners.

More than 300 pounds of meat from fish caught during the first night was donated to Diakonia, which provides emergency housing, food services, counseling and assistance for its guests.

Approximately 200 pounds went to Ocean City Baptist Church from the second night’s catches in 2020.

The tournament will again benefit the Raymond A. Wood Foundation, which provides quality of life support for childhood brain tumor survivors and their families (www.rawoodfoundation.org).

The event will also support the Ocean Research Project, which tracks sea level rise and temperature change (www.oceanresearchproject.org).

In addition, there will also be a raffle to raise funds for the Ocean City Fire Department.

Talbot Street Pier is the original spot where some of the first fish caught off the coast of Ocean City were weighed.

Nearly 100 years ago, the pier in downtown Ocean City was bustling with activity as anglers took their daily catches there. Organizers of the Big Fish Classic wanted to bring the action, and big fish, back to the pier.

For more information, visit www.bigfishclassic.com. Updates will also be posted on the tournament’s Facebook page.

Roberts also wants to thank the event’s local sponsors: Taylor Bank, Farmers Bank of Willards, Atlantic Tackle, OC Jewelers, Weaver Boat Works and Kari Story from First Home Mortgage.

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