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Annual OC Shark Tournament on tap, June 13-15

(June 7, 2013) Each year, Ocean City Shark Tournament organizers strive to provide the best event possible, but not at the expense of sharks.

A small number of sharks are brought to the scale annually and those that are weighed are most often “contender fish.”

This is because tournament director Mark Sampson stresses the importance of conservation and reminds participants of the leader board sizes each day of the tournaments.

Sampson is hoping for better weather and fishing conditions for the 2013 event, scheduled June 13-15, than anglers battled last year.

During the 2012 tournament, 11 boat captains and their teams braved extremely rough seas and windy conditions. Anglers were originally schedule to fish two of three days, June 14-16, but because of poor conditions offshore, the tournament started a day later, June 15, and ran through June 17, in the hopes the ocean would calm and the wind die down. Neither did.

No sharks were brought to the Ocean City Fishing Center scale in West Ocean City, but 44 were released (six mako, 21 spinner, 13 sandbar or dusky, two hammerhead and two tiger sharks).

The only fish brought to the scale during the 2012 competition were three bluefish, all caught aboard the Triple Threat. The fish weighed in at 1.5, .9 and .8 pounds.

“We said our prayers for good weather this year,” Sampson said. “The weather was so horrible last year we were shocked to event have 11 boats.”

Final registration for the 33rd annual tournament will begin at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12. The cost is $650 per team for up to four anglers. Two additional anglers can be added at $50 per angler, for a total crew of six. A one-day charter boat team registration is available for $350 for up to six anglers.

Anglers will fish two of three days, Thursday through Saturday, June 13-15. Weigh-ins will take place at the Ocean City Fishing Center from 3:30-7 p.m. Most of the activity is typically between 4:30 and 7 p.m. Spectators are invited to watch the weigh-ins.

Sampson aims to make the weigh-ins educational, teaching those in attendance about the different shark species. Children are invited to sit front row to get an up-close look at the fish being weighed.

Primary divisions for the event, which has become one of the largest shark tournaments on the East Coast, are: mako, open (threshers and blue shark only), release and bluefish. There are also tuna and dolphin divisions.

Anglers can also participate in added entry levels and daily calcuttas.

“Shark fishing has been good. A number of makos and some blues have been caught and there’s been a couple hammerhead encounters,” Sampson said Monday.

Last Saturday, Sampson said anglers hooked a sandbar shark on his boat, the Fish Finder. Tiger sharks have also been spotted.

“We should have a nice mix of species by mid-June, just in time for the tournament,” he said.

The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation sponsors the release division and funds scientific research and educational programs to encourage conservation and best management practices for sustainable marine environments.

This year, prize money will again be awarded to the three teams with the most release points. Cash awards will also be given to crews that accumulate the most release points each of the three tournament fishing days. The team that releases the most makos will be rewarded as well.

The Ocean City Shark Tournament is the second of two fishing competitions that allow anglers to accumulate points toward the “Ocean City Sharker of the Year” title. The first event is Mako Mania, which is scheduled for this weekend, June 7-9.

On Saturday, June 15 from 1-7 p.m., exhibitors, including the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland Coastal Bays, Salisbury Zoo, Tri-County Bird Club, Scales & Tales, Surfriders, Delmarva Discovery Center, WBOC and Dick Arnold, a volunteer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Maryland Department of Natural Resources who will talk about horseshoe crabs and have a few to show guests, will be set up in a tent in the fishing center parking lot.

The Outdoors Delmarva expo is open to the public and free to attend.

“It’s an educational experience,” Sampson said about the event. The expo was added to the tournament last year and was a hit.

“People can learn more about fishing, marine life, wildlife and outdoor activities,” he said.

For more information, visit www.ocsharktournament.com, e-mail ocsharktournament@gmail.com or call 410-213-2442.

Ocean City Shark Tournament director Mark Sampson, right, reads aloud the shark release report from the Lucky One team at the Ocean City Fishing Center dock during the 2012 competition. The group racked up the most release points, 28, for throwing back 13 sharks (12 spinner and one hammerhead). The team was awarded $1,575. They received an additional $480 in the Daily Release division for Saturday and Sunday and the team was also presented with a rod and reel for releasing the most sharks overall.

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