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Approx. 450 lady anglers competing in Poor Girls Open

If you are in Ocean City this week, you may notice a couple of changes as you drive down Coastal Highway. The speed limit, normally 40 mph through North Ocean City, has been reduced to 30 mph, and Downtown, the speed limit has also been reduced. This is due to the expected, unauthorized H2Oi Pop-Up Rally.  It is reasonable to expect heavier than usual traffic, noise and strict enforcement of vehicle laws during the week and weekend.

(Aug. 15, 2014) Thursday was the first fishing day of the 21st annual Capt. Steve Harman’s Poor Girls Open and female anglers will have two more days, today and Saturday, to compete for cash prizes.

“I wish all of the ladies a safe and fun trip,” Tournament co-Director Earl Conley said last week.

Fifteen boats headed offshore Thursday.

As of Thursday morning, 96 boats carrying 453 women have entered this year’s competition.

“Poor Girls Open always draws a huge crowd and 96 boats is awesome,” Conley said Thursday.

Teams can still sign up through Saturday, but are not eligible for the added entry level calcuttas.

Entry fee costs $450 per boat for up to three anglers. Additional anglers may be added at $50 each, with a maximum of six total per boat. Teams will fish one of the three tournament days. Weigh-ins will take place from 4-7:30 p.m. at Bahia Marina, 22nd Street, bayside. They are free to attend and open to the public.

Pink Ribbon merchandise will be for sale and auction items will be set up near the weigh-in scale in the Bahia Marina/Fish Tales parking lot for anyone who wants to bid. There will also be a 50/50 raffle. Donations will be accepted for the American Cancer Society, as well.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three teams with the most billfish release points. There are also cash prizes for the three heaviest tuna and dolphin. Girls 16 and younger can participate in the junior angler division.

Approximately $77,000 in prize money is up for grabs this year.

“The marlin bite has been a little slow this year. The weird thing about marlin (bite), it’s like a light switch. It can turn on overnight. A big part of it is being in the right place at the right time,” Conley said. “There’s some bigeyes out there and some yellowfin have been caught. There’s a strong dolphin bite. I think we’ll do well in the tuna and dolphin divisions…”

An awards luncheon is scheduled for Sunday, from noon to 2 p.m., at the Marlin Club in West Ocean City.

Many women participate in the event annually, including cancer survivors. Although it is a competition, there is camaraderie among the lady anglers.

Money raised during the tournament is donated to the American Cancer Society and earmarked for breast cancer research and program development. While some of the money is used for research on a national level, the remainder stays in the area to assist in local breast cancer awareness and patient programs and services.

The competition has grown since its inception — eight boats participated in the first tournament and in 2013, 97 vessels carried 447 female anglers offshore. A total of $91,840 was paid out to the winners.

“We’re proud of the turnout we get every year,” Conley said.

In 2013, the Harman family presented the American Cancer Society with a check for $67,500 during the tournament’s awards ceremony.

The total donated by the Harman family through the tournament and other events over the past six years is approximately $390,000. Since the Open’s inception 21 years ago, the American Cancer Society has received more than $600,000.

In 2004, the tournament was renamed to honor the founder of the event, the late Capt. Steve Harman. He and his wife, Pam, started the Poor Girls Open in 1994 to provide women with an opportunity to compete for prizes and money in a ladies-only tournament and to raise money for local charities.

Harman died in February 2004, so organizers thought it was appropriate the tournament be renamed in his memory.

For more information about the event, call Bahia Marina at 410-289-7438.

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