(May 22, 2015) For the past five years, the Ocean City Marlin Club has hosted a bluefish tournament Memorial Day weekend.
After tournament organizers discussed the event with boat captains, anglers and previous participants, it was decided to change the tournament format this year.
The focus of the competition for the last five years was bluefish. This year, the event, now named the “Memorial Day Tournament,” will still offer a category for bluefish, but there are also tuna and mako shark divisions as well.
Historically speaking, Franky Pettolina, OCMC president and tournament co-director said, makos would typically show up in the area in the beginning of June and tuna closer to the end of the month.
But the last five or six years, makos and tuna have arrived earlier, he said. Water patterns have also changed, he added, and technology on boats has improved, so anglers are catching sharks and tuna earlier in the fishing season. These reasons are why tournament organizers decided to expand the competition.
“Hopefully we can put some big fish on the dock and raise more money,” Pettolina said. The tournament benefits the Catherine & Charles Kratz Memorial Foundation and Scholarship Fund, which provides support, encouragement and a better life for veterans.
Registration for the 2015 competition begins at 6:30 p.m. today, Friday, at the Marlin Club on Golf Course Road in West Ocean City. A captain’s meeting will follow at 8 p.m. Anglers do not have to be Marlin Club members to participate.
The boat entry fee is $300. Participants will fish one of two days: Saturday, May 23 or Sunday, May 24.
A portion of the entry fee will again be donated to the Catherine & Charles Kratz Memorial Foundation and Scholarship Fund.
“We’re hoping with the format change to see 30 to 40 boats,” Pettolina said. “We want to get people fishing and raise money for a great charity. Hopefully the tournament gets bigger and better.”
Weigh-ins will take place at Sunset Marina in West Ocean City on Saturday and Sunday from 4-6:30 p.m.
Prize money will be awarded to anglers who hook the three heaviest fish in each division.
The minimum tournament size for bluefish is 12 inches. The weight minimums for tuna and mako are 30 and 100 pounds, respectively.
Added entry levels ranging in cost from $100-$500 are available for bluefish and meatfish (tuna and mako shark).
Participating in the additional calcuttas increase the prize money payout for top fish. The cost to go across the board and enter into all the calcuttas is $1,600.
Pettolina said bluefish, tuna and mako fishing has been good lately. Bluefish are closer to shore and bigger than they have been in the last two years, he added. A number of tuna and mako sharks have also been caught.
An awards banquet will take place Sunday from 6:30-9 p.m. at the club. Four banquet tickets are included with each boat entry fee. The cost for each additional ticket is $15.
The awards have been created by artist George Kalwa and his mako, bluefish and tuna painting will also be raffled off.
Fourteen boats headed offshore while one angler fished from shore during the Ocean City Marlin Club’s 2014 Memorial Day Bluefish Tournament. Approximately $2,000 was presented to the Catherine & Charles Kratz Memorial Foundation and Scholarship Fund last year.
For more information, call 410-213-1613. To learn more about the Catherine & Charles Kratz Memorial Foundation and Scholarship Fund, visit www.kratzmemorialfoundation.com.