(July 16, 2021) For the first time since its inception 34 years ago, the Ocean City Tuna Tournament broke the million-dollar payout mark.
“We finally reached it. It’s amazing,” said tournament co-Director Becca Haskell. “With the [remnants] of Tropical Storm Elsa, we were worried it would deter people from entering, even though it looked like it would blow out. It obviously didn’t. I was pretty shocked. It shows how much people want to fish right now.”
A total of 106 boats registered for the tournament. The overall payout was $1,019,690.
The largest tuna of the tournament was caught by Matt Bullock aboard Hydrosphere. The 233-pound big eye earned the team $93,787.50. The crew also came in third place in the heaviest stringer weight division with a total catch weight of 488 pounds.
Seth Frederick reeled in a 199-pound big eye while fishing on Tara Jessica. It was worth $30,802.50.
Instigator angler Joe Venito hooked a 170-pound big eye. The team received $59,865.
The Reel Fun crew was awarded $207,180 for Trey Gettier’s 139-pound tuna because the group entered the Level H Pro Tuna Jackpot, which is a winner-take-all pool for the largest single tuna.
That pot totaled $198,000. It costs $5,000 to enter and 44 of the 106 tournament boats registered for the calcutta.
Altogether, the team had a stringer weight of 292 pounds.
“With so many [added entry-level calcuttas] there’s so many ways to win money in this tournament,” Haskell said. “Picking and choosing the levels you want to enter can play in your favor.”
Paul Crampton’s 124-pound big eye earned him and the C-Boys crew $36,630.
The Big Stick crew won the heaviest stringer division. Their tunas weighed a total of 638 pounds. The team was presented 305,880. A large portion of that money – $145,800 – came from the Level G Heaviest Stringer Jackpot. Fifty-four out of 106 boats registered for the calcutta.
The Bar South team took home $64,395 for its total catch weight of 562 pounds.
The Marlin crew had a 104-pound big eye, caught by David Kerrigan, and a total stringer weight of 275 pounds. The team won $64,395.
The Boss Hogg team won $27,360 for a total stringer weight of 483 pounds.
The only qualifying dolphin brought to the Ocean City Fishing Center in West Ocean City was a 20-pounder caught by Buddy Trala aboard the Christine Marie. The fish was worth $27,070. Nearly all of that money came from the Level L heaviest single dolphin added entry-level. Ninety-one boats participated in the calcutta, which had a total payout of $24,570.
Robert Warden, 16, who was fishing on Boss Hogg, took first and second place in the junior angler division with 65- and 59-pound tunas. He received $1,000 for each.
Hammer Down junior angler Jackson Morgan finished in third place with a 41-pound tuna. He won $250.
Fifteen junior anglers participated in the tournament.
The top lady angler was Kristin Quinn, who caught a 150-pound tuna aboard Husevo. She received $1,500.
JL Cropper reeled in a 41-pound tuna while fishing on Myra HT. She was awarded $1,000.
Danielle Robertson (FFMD) and Janine Samuel (PYY Marine) both hooked 38-pound tuna. They each earned $250.
Twenty-one lady anglers competed in the tournament.
Forty-five boats entered the Level Q Charity Donation division, which this year benefits Fishing For Muscular Dystrophy (FFMD), a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit and offshore fishing team that has a strategic alliance with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) whose purpose is “Fighting Muscle Disease.”
FFMD and Reel Fun each received $4,050.
“We’re super happy with the way the tournament went,” Haskell said. “Everything ran smoothly."