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Lady anglers to take center stage 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. 8, 2014) Female anglers will take center stage next week as hundreds are expected to participate in the 21st annual Capt. Steve Harman’s Poor Girls Open, Aug. 14-16.

Women enjoy fishing in the tournament because it benefits a worthy cause — breast cancer research, said co-Director Earl Conley.

“It seems like a lot of people are excited,” said Conley, who added that he has received a number of phone calls from interested anglers.

Proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society and earmarked for breast cancer research and program development, under the “Pink Ribbon Classic” — a series of local events that benefit the organization.

Many women make it a tradition to fish annually, including cancer survivors. Although it is a competition, there is camaraderie among the ladies anglers.

The cost to enter the tournament is $450 per boat for up to three anglers. Other anglers may be added at $50 each (six-woman crew maximum per boat).

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three teams with the most billfish release points. White marlin and sailfish releases are worth 100 points each, while blue marlin and swordfish releases earn anglers 110 points. Anglers who boat the three heaviest tuna and dolphin will also received cash prizes.

There are added entry levels for billfish releases, tuna and dolphin. Girls 16 and younger may compete in the junior angler division.

“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 Wednesday. “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…Three marlin releases could win [the division] this year.”

Registration for the tournament will begin at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, at Bahia Marina, 22nd Street on the bay. A captains’ meeting will follow.

Anglers may fish one of the three days: Thursday, Aug. 14, Friday, Aug. 15, or Saturday, Aug. 16. Weigh-ins will take place daily from 4-7:30 p.m., at the marina.

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, as well.

An awards luncheon is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 17, at the Marlin Club in West Ocean City.

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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