(July 17, 2020) Numerous records were broken during the sixth annual Huk Big Fish Classic last year, and co-director Brian Roberts, anticipates the 2020 event will be successful as well.
“We’re expecting a really good turnout,” he said. “I think it’s going to be great. I think people are ready to get out and fish.”
About two dozen teams have already registered. Roberts encourages crews to sign up in advance to avoid congestion on final registration day, Thursday, July 23. In-person registration has also been extended and will begin at noon next Thursday at M.R. Ducks on Talbot Street, bayside, and run until about 8 p.m. Social distancing and masks will be required. One representative from each team can sign up the group.
Several new teams have already registered from New Jersey, Roberts added. Crews from North Carolina, Florida and some local groups have also signed up.
“A lot of new participants have signed up,” he said. “We’re just wishing for great weather and a great tournament.”
Roberts expects a more than $600,000 payout to tournament winners this year.
Records were set for both participation and payout in 2019. Seventy-two boats were registered for the tournament and a total of $503,302 was distributed among the winners.
The final day to sign up is Thursday. A captains’ meeting will follow and be available on Facebook.
The cost to enter the tournament is $900 per boat.
Teams can choose between two 32-hour slots: 7 a.m. Friday, July, 24 to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 25, or 7 a.m. Saturday, July 25 to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 26.
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.
There are several added entry-level divisions, or wagering pools, which range in cost from $300 to $1,500, and include billfish, tuna, meatfish (dolphin, wahoo and shark) and small boat (38 feet and under). There is also a billfish release division.
“Talbot Street Stringer” calcutta has three levels to enter this year, which cost $500 and $1,000. The Heaviest Stringer Winner Take All costs $1,000 to enter.
Teams can select any four fish they catch in 32 hours for a combined total weight.
Roberts said there will be more money awarded this year in the white marlin and swordfish divisions as well as the release category.
Boats can depart from any port between New Jersey and Virginia and can leave as early as 2 a.m. 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 24 and Saturday, July 25. The scale, located between M.R. Ducks and the Angler in downtown Ocean City, will be open from 4-8 p.m. Sunday, July 26.
Roberts said tournament organizers are still working out the logistics of the weigh-ins to allow for social distancing. The weigh-ins will also be streamed live.
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.
A record 900 pounds of meat from fish caught during the 2019 tournament was donated to Diakonia, which provides emergency housing, food services, counseling and assistance for its guests, and the Ocean City Baptist Church. Fish will again go to those groups this year, Roberts said.
For more information, visit www.bigfishclassic.com. Updates will also be posted on the tournament’s Facebook page.