(Aug. 1, 2014) Several boats were docked early at Talbot Street Pier Sunday and when the scale opened at 4 p.m. for Day 2 of the inaugural Big Fish Classic, there was non-stop action as fish after fish was weighed.
Thirty-two boats entered the tournament. A total of $92,920 was paid out to Big Fish Classic winners.
“It was fantastic. The turnout was great. Everyone had an enjoyable, fun time,” said Brian Roberts, co-organizer of the tournament with Sean Welsh and Stephen and John Lewis. “The amount of fish brought to the scale was awesome.”
A couple fish were weighed last Saturday, but nearly three dozen were brought to the scale on Sunday.
The largest of the tournament was Matt Jenkins’ 243.5-pound bigeye tuna. Jenkins and his Reel Intents teammates won $35,772 for his first-ever bigeye catch.
Brent Kelly reeled in a 235.5-pound bigeye aboard Restless Lady. The crew took home $26,648.
Dicky Reynolds finished in third place with the 225-pound bigeye he landed while fishing on M.R. Ducks. The tuna was worth $5,496.
The Backlash crew won prize money for three fish. Rachel Davanzo hooked a 167.5-pound swordfish as well as an 88-pound yellowfin. John Frankos caught a 211-pound bigeye. The Backlash team was awarded $10,395.
Two white marlin were brought to the dock by the Rebel crew. Jack Owens’ 77.5-pound white earned the group $7,785.
The Research team was presented with $4,592 for a 218-pound bigeye tuna and a 79-pound yellowfin.
The No Quarter crew won $864 for a 76.5-pound yellowfin tuna. A 174-pound bigeye tuna brought in $720 for the Four Tuna team.
Bill Via had the only dolphin land on the leader board. He reeled in the 21-pounder on Lil’ Angler II. Via and his teammates were presented with $648.
Talbot Street Pier is the original spot where some of the first fish caught off the coast of Ocean City were weighed. Nearly 100 years ago, the pier in downtown Ocean City was bustling with activity as anglers took their daily catches there.
Organizers of the inaugural Big Fish Classic wanted to bring the action, and big fish, back to the pier.
Both Saturday and Sunday the dock between the Angler and M.R. Ducks restaurants was pack with spectators eager to see large fish get weighed.
Boats could leave as early as 3 a.m. last Saturday, with lines in the water at 7 a.m. Lines had to be out by 3 p.m. Sunday.
Participants could fish overnight, for the full 32 hours of the tournament, or head out Saturday morning and return in the evening then go back offshore Sunday morning with the same or a different crew.
A majority of the crews fished overnight. The goal was to bring the biggest fish back to the dock.
Roberts said the tournament was well received by participants and organizers heard positive feedback.
“Talbot Street, everyone–the anglers, the spectators–thought it was a great atmosphere,” he said. “It was a great event for downtown Ocean City, to bring some life back to downtown bayside where everything started.”
“Everybody loved it. Big crowds and lots of quality fish weighed,” added Welsh. “Everybody seemed to be happy…All the reviews and comments, sounds like we’ve got a big tournament coming next year.”
The organizers will discuss what worked and what didn’t and adjustments will be made to ensure the 2015 tournament is bigger and better. Roberts said organizers may add a third day to the tournament and anglers can fish any 32 hours. They may also include a release division. Next year’s Big Fish Classic is scheduled for July 24-26. For more information, visit www.bigfishclassic.com.