tuna tourney

(July 8, 2022) The fish are biting just in time for the 35th annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament, which kicks off today and runs through Sunday.

“The season as a whole has been off and on. Fish are being caught in one canyon one day and in a different one another day,” said Ocean City Fishing Center Assistant Dockmaster Hunter Dortenzo. "Last week everyone in our fleet was catching six-plus yellowfin. The past few days they’ve been catching some bigeye tuna, which is an awesome sign.”

On July 5, Roshambo Sportfishing landed several yellowfin tuna and a 145-pound bigeye. The day prior, Covered Up Sport Fishing boated a 209-pound bigeye and six yellowfin tuna.

Also this week, anglers aboard Big Stick reeled in four yellowfin and a 216-pound bigeye.

“The tuna bite is here. There’s a good mix of yellowfin and bigeye, which is always a crowd pleaser to see big tuna being weighed,” Dortenzo said. “If conditions align right, we could have another record-breaking tournament.”

Final registration for the tournament was yesterday, Thursday. Altogether, there were 17 added entry-level calcuttas for the 2022 competition. The cost to enter them ranged from $200 to $5,000.

Teams could 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.

For 2022, tournament fishing is permitted Friday through Sunday. Anglers will fish two of the three days. Boats can leave either the Ocean City or Indian River inlets.

“The weather is looking pretty good. All days are fishable, at the very least,” Dortenzo said on Wednesday.

Catches will be weighed at the Ocean City Fishing Center from 4-8 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. There will be giveaways during the weigh-ins and children are invited to sit up close to the scale to get a good view.

There will also be vendors set up near the weigh-in station, including a table featuring a variety of tournament apparel and merchandise. Spectators can also view the weigh-ins from Micky Fins bar and restaurant, which is located next to the scale.

“It’s going to be a party at the scale and we’re looking forward to it,” Dortenzo said.

The weigh-ins will also be streamed live on the tournament website for those who can’t make it to the fishing center.

Prize money will be awarded to the first-, second- and third-heaviest single tuna and the largest total catch weight (stringer).

Each boat may weigh up to five fish per day to compete for a two-day total pound catch.

There is a 30-pound minimum weight requirement for all eligible tournament tuna (yellowfin, bluefin, bigeye and long fin).

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.

The Yeti Cooler Junior Angler division is for youth 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. The minimum weight for dolphin is 20 pounds.

There is also a wahoo calcutta. Minimum weight is 20 pounds.

The last two years no qualifying wahoo were brought the scale so prize money of about $21,000 has been rolled over to this year’s tournament, Dortenzo said.

“We’re all excited and looking forward to the tournament,” Dortenzo said.

For the first time since its inception 34 years ago, the Ocean City Tuna Tournament broke the million-dollar payout mark in 2021. Organizers are hoping to surpass that total this year.

A total of 106 boats registered for the 2021 tournament. The overall payout was $1,019,690.

For more information about the Tuna Tournament, call 410-213-1121 or visit www.octunatournament.com.

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