*** UPDATE*** 105 boats entered this year and just over $1 million will be paid out (*new tournament record) to the winners
* Zero boats fished today, so the scale will be busy Saturday and Sunday
(July 9, 2021) The annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament will go on as scheduled, with fishing days today, Saturday and Sunday, despite the passing of Tropical Storm Elsa.
“It looks like Thursday will be the worst day and maybe into Friday morning, but Saturday and Sunday look fishable, so we thought there was no point in changing anything,” said Tournament co-Director Becca Haskell.
Over the past weeks, tuna fishing has been good, then slow, then good again, then slow, but this week leading up to the tournament, many tuna have been caught.
Haskell said just from the boats out of the Ocean City Fishing Center alone, numerous tuna have been reeled in.
On Sunday, Talkin’ Trash, captained by Chris Little, caught its limit of yellowfin (three per person per day) - 18 total. And on Tuesday, the RoShamBo, captained by Willie Zimmerman, picked up eight yellowfin on its trip, and Haskell said they were all decent size.
“The size of yellowfin have definitely gotten bigger over the last few weeks, and boats are catching their limit,” Haskell said. “If they stay around, it could make for good competition.”
On July 5, a 250-pound big eye tuna was hooked aboard the Cookie Monster out of Sunset Marina.
Big eyes are being caught here and there, Haskell said, and bluefin tuna is hit or miss, she added. There have not been as many bluefin tuna landed as there were in early June, when Haskell said the fishing center was struggling to have enough tags for the bluefin to keep up with the catches.
For 2021, tournament fishing is permitted Friday through Sunday, July 9-11. 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 in West Ocean City from 4-8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and until 7 p.m. on Sunday.
There is no cost to watch the weigh-ins, which are open to the public. There will also be vendors featuring jewelry, art and tournament apparel, set up near the weigh-ins.
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.
There is a 30-pound minimum weight requirement for all eligible tournament tuna (yellowfin, bluefin and big eye).
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.
Since several wahoo have been caught during the tournament over the years, organizers added a division for the fish in 2016. The calcutta is also available this year. Minimum weight is 20 pounds.
For more information about the Tuna Tournament, call 410-213-1121 or visit www.octunatournament.com.
Despite being modified a few times due to weather and fishing conditions brought on by Tropical Storm Fay, the 33rd annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament in 2020 was still considered a success. Thirty-two boats were entered and a total of $346,995 was awarded to the winners.