(July 12, 2019) Tuna fishing is “decent” as the 32nd annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament kicks off today and runs until Sunday.
Anglers have been catching bigeye, yellowfin and bluefin tuna, Tuna Tournament Director Jennifer Blunt said.
A 220-pound bluefin tuna was brought to the Ocean City Fishing Center in West Ocean City last weekend, so “there are big fish out there,” Blunt said.
Yellowfin tuna have been landed in the 50-70-pound range, she added, and a couple “decent size” bigeyes were caught last weekend as well.
“I think we’ll probably see more yellowfin than anything else [during the tournament],” Blunt said earlier this week. “Hopefully everything falls into line and we have another successful event.”
The cost to enter the tournament was $1,000 ($900 for early registration by July 5). Twelve teams pre-registered, three of which are new to the tournament, Blunt said.
Most crews wait until the final registration day, which was Thursday, July 11, to keep an eye on the forecast. In 2018, only 10 of the 104 boats preregistered.
Altogether, there were 17 added entry-level calcuttas for the 2019 competition. The cost to enter ranged from $200 to $5,000.
Teams had the option to 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.
The cost to go across the board with the $1,000 entry fee for boats 52 feet and larger was $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 4-7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and until 7 p.m. Sunday. There is no cost to watch the weigh-ins, which are open to the public.
Ocean City Tuna Tournament official T-shirts will be available for purchase during the weigh-ins.
Several other vendors will have booths set up on the Fishing Center docks, including Park Place Jewelers, Costa, Huk and LuLaRoe. A truck selling SnoBall frozen ice treats will also be on site.
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.
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.
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. Prize money will also be presented 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.
Sam Thorpe landed the largest tuna of the 2018 tournament – a 144-pound bluefin. Thorpe and his Playmate teammates were awarded $328,960. A majority of that money – $198,000 – came from the Level H Pro Tuna Jackpot.
Goin’ In Deep earned first place in the Heaviest Stringer Weight Division last year, with a total of 325 pounds. The team received a check for $237,438. A large portion of that money – $117,000 – came from the Level G Heaviest Stringer Jackpot. Fifty-two out of 104 boats registered for the calcutta.