(July 25, 2014) 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 want to bring the action, and big fish, back to the pier.
“I think it’s going to be a great event,” Sean Welsh, co-organizer of the Classic with Brian Roberts and Stephen and John Lewis, said last week.
“There’s all that history there. Everything happened there. It was the place where marlin and tuna were weighed for years,” Roberts said. “We wanted to do something in downtown Ocean City and what better way then to bring big fish to the dock.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, about two dozen boats were pre-registered for the July 26-27, tournament. For a first-year event, Roberts said organizers are hoping to have between 50 and 60 boats participate.
“We’re doing fantastic. We’re very happy about [the number of pre-registered boats],” he said. “We’ve had lots of positive feedback from the fishing community…and the weather is supposed to be good this weekend.”
Final registration will take place today, July 25, from 4-7:30 p.m. at M.R. Ducks on Talbot Street, bayside. A captain’s meeting will follow.
Boats can leave as early as 3 a.m. Saturday, with lines in the water at 7 a.m. Lines must be out by 3 p.m. Sunday.
Participants can 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.
Boats can depart from any port between New Jersey and Virginia. Teams must fish within 100 nautical miles of Ocean City. All tournament fish must be weighed at the Talbot Street Pier.
“It’s a real relaxed format for captains and anglers…We wanted to have a tournament for everybody that’s reasonable to get into,” Roberts said. “The goal is to get the biggest fish back to the dock.”
Qualifying tournament fish are: blue marlin, white marlin, swordfish, sailfish, shark, tuna, dolphin and wahoo.
Tournament weigh-ins will take place from 4-9 p.m., Saturday. The scale will be open from 4-8 p.m. Sunday. DJ BK of Ocean 98 Irie Radio, based out of Seacrets on 49th Street, will be the tournament/weigh-in emcee.
Weigh-ins are free and open to the public. There will be giveaways, food and drink specials and live musical entertainment daily at M.R. Ducks and The Angler. Big Fish Classic apparel will also be available.
The cost to enter the tournament is $700 per boat. Roberts said as of Wednesday, the estimated payout to tournament winners is $100,000. There are also several added entry level divisions, or wagering pools, which range in cost from $100 to $1,000. Optional entry divisions include heaviest fish, “Saturday on the Board” for heaviest fish that day, billfish, tuna, meatfish and small boat–36 feet and smaller.
“You’ll see a variety of fish at the scale,” Welsh said. “There’s a lot of ways to win big money.”
An awards banquet is scheduled for Sunday, from 8-10 p.m. at The Angler Restaurant, adjacent to M.R. Ducks on Talbot Street.
Tournament proceeds and money raised through raffles will benefit Coastal Hospice and Diakonia, a residence in West Ocean City, which provides emergency and transitional housing, food services, counseling and assistance to its guests.
“I’m really excited about the tournament. I think it’s going to be an awesome event,” Roberts said.
For more information, call 410-213-0325, 410-289-9125, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bigfishclassic.com.