(May 25, 2018) One major change to the Ocean City Marlin Club’s Memorial Day Tournament is that organizers decided to eliminate the mako shark division.
For five years, the Ocean City Marlin Club hosted a bluefish-based tournament during Memorial Day weekend.
The focus of the competition for the first five years was bluefish, but directors altered the format a bit for the sixth annual competition in 2015. The event, renamed the “Memorial Day Tournament,” still offered a category for bluefish, but there was tuna and mako shark divisions as well.
Bluefish, tuna and mako divisions have been included since then. That is, until this year.
National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced, effective March 2, emergency regulations for Atlantic Shortfin Mako Sharks. The recreational minimum size limit has been increased from 54 inches to 83 inches (fork length) for shortfin makos.
This was implemented to address overfishing of the species. The emergency measure will be in effect until Aug. 29 with a possible extension of up to an additional 186 days. Fishermen are encouraged to practice catch and release of all shortfin mako sharks.
An 83-inch mako weighs about 240-250 pounds, Franky Pettolina, Ocean City Marlin Club president and tournament co-director, said.
“It’s a shame. Fifty-four inches jumping to 83 inches is a huge jump,” he said. “A minimum of 65 inches would have been more realistic.”
Without a mako division, Pettolina said participants should see a better payout in the tuna division.
Registration for the 2018 tournament begins at 6:30 p.m. today, Friday, at the Marlin Club on Golf Course Road in West Ocean City. A captains’ meeting will follow at 8 p.m. Anglers do not have to be Marlin Club members to participate.
The boat entry fee is $300 (for four anglers). Participants will fish one of two days: Saturday, May 26 or Sunday, May 27.
A portion of the entry fee will again be donated to the Catherine & Charles Kratz Memorial Foundation and Scholarship Fund, which provides support, encouragement and a better life for veterans.
Weigh-ins will take place at Sunset Marina in West Ocean City on Saturday and Sunday from 4:30-7 p.m. Prize money will be awarded to anglers who hook the three heaviest fish in the bluefish and tuna divisions.
Added entry-level calcuttas, or side wagers, ranging in cost from $100-$500 are available for bluefish and tuna. Participating in the additional calcuttas increase the prize money payout for top fish.
Pettolina said bluefish fishing has been good close to shore. Nice-size fish are in the bay and inlet, as well as up to a few miles out – about 10-12 pounders, he said.
It has been a tough spring, weatherwise, Pettolina said. As of recently, not many have traveled offshore for tuna fishing.
“I think tunas are out there,” Pettolina said, adding that water temperature is good behind the Poor Man’s Canyon and inside the Washington Canyon.
An awards banquet will take place on Sunday from 6:30-9 p.m. at the club. Four banquet tickets are included with each boat entry fee. The cost for each additional ticket is $15.
Crews on 13 boats participated in the Ocean City Marlin Club’s eighth annual Memorial Day Tournament last year and $8,280 was paid out to the winners.
The team aboard Husevo took first place in the tuna division with a 57.4-pound bigeye. They won $5,850.
Reel Direct finished in second place with a 40.4-pound yellowfin tuna. The crew was awarded $2,034. The Brenda Lou team came in third with a 39.2-pound yellowfin. The group was presented $396.
No bluefish were brought to the Sunset Marina scale. One mako shark was weighed, but it came up 0.2 pounds short of the 100-pound minimum.
About $1,250 was presented to the Catherine & Charles Kratz Memorial Foundation.
For information, call 410-213-1613.