(July 4, 2014) Bluefin, yellowfin and big eye tuna are what anglers will be searching for during the 27th annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament next weekend.
“Tuna fishing has been good,” tournament director Jennifer Blunt said Monday. “A lot of yellowfin and big eye have been caught. We still have boats bringing in double digit yellowfin.”
Blunt said some bluefin were caught at the end of May, but not many have been seen since then.
During the Tuna Tournament, anglers on both charter and private boats may hook a single bluefin per day. Three yellowfin, which tend to be smaller than bluefin, may be caught per person per day. There is no limit to the number of big eyes a team may catch, although they may only weigh up to five fish per tournament day.
Early registration for the 27th annual tournament ends today, July 4, at 5 p.m. The cost is $800 to enter.
Final registration will take place Thursday, July 10, from 3-7 p.m. at the Fishing Center in West Ocean City. A captains’ meeting will follow. For those who miss early registration, the cost is $900 per boat (maximum six anglers).
“We expect a good number again this year as far as participation goes,” Blunt said.
There are nine added entry level calcuttas, or wagering pools, this year. Cost to enter those range from $200 to $5,000. Anglers may enter into one or all of the added entry level categories, which, if they place on the top of the leader board, could substantially increase the amount of prize money they receive.
The Level F “Pro Tuna Jackpot” Winner Takes All costs $5,000 to enter, but it pays off for the angler with the heaviest single tuna as long as he signs up for the calcutta. In 2013, 37 of the 85 tournament boats entered and the Level F pot itself totaled $166,500.
Last year, more than $450,000 was paid out to tournament winners. Since no qualifying dolphin were weighed in 2013, the $13,200 pot for that category will be carried over to this year’s tournament.
A total of 35 big eye tuna were brought to the Ocean City Fishing Center scale in West Ocean City during the three-day tournament last year. A record 29 big eye were weighed the first day of the competition. Along with the 35 big eye, 43 yellowfin and six bluefin were also weighed last year.
For 2014, tournament fishing is permitted Friday through Sunday, July 11-13. Anglers will fish two of the three days. Catches will be weighed at the Ocean City Fishing Center between 4-7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and until 7 p.m. Sunday.
There is no cost to watch the weigh-ins, which are open to the public.
To speed up the weigh-in process, stringer fish (a boat’s heaviest five fish per day) can be weighed at Sunset Marina on Friday and Saturday. All other fish, including trophy fish, must be brought to the Fishing Center.
Prize money will be awarded to the first-, second- and third-heaviest single tuna and the largest total catch weight. The top team in the Largest Fish division will receive an invitation to compete in the IGFA Offshore Championship.
Each boat may weigh up to five fish per day to compete for a two-day total pound catch. There is a 30-pound minimum weight requirement for all eligible tournament tuna.
A $1,500 award will be presented to the female angler who catches the largest tuna.
A Junior Angler division is available for those 16 and younger. The winner will receive $1,000. Cash prizes will also be presented to junior anglers who land the second- and third-heaviest fish.
There will also be prize money for the first-, second- and third-largest dolphin.
For more information about the Tuna Tournament, call 410-213-1121 or visit www.octunatournament.com.