Ocean City Today
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Fourth annual Huk Big Fish Classic to kick off Fri. in OC

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Jul 27, 2017
Photo by: FILE PHOTO A blue marlin is weighed during the 2016 Huk Big Fish Classic at Talbot Street Pier.

** UPDATE: DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS, THE HUK BIG FISH CLASSIC HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO SEPT. 8-10

(July 28, 2017) The fourth annual Huk Big Fish Classic starts today and continues until Sunday as teams look to bring the largest catch to the Talbot Street Pier in downtown Ocean City.

“Come down and check out the big fish up close,” said Brian Roberts, co-director of the tournament. “Fishing [over the weekend] was good. A big [926-pound] mako shark was caught off New Jersey in our [tournament fishing limits] range. A lot of tuna were caught this past weekend. Billfish are starting to show up out in the Norfolk Canyon.”

As of Monday, about 30 boats had pre-registered for the fourth annual Huk Big Fish Classic, many of which are first-time participants. Teams have signed up from New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland. Final registration was Thursday.

Teams have the option to choose between two 32-hour slots: 7 a.m. Friday, July, 28 to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 29, or 7 a.m. Saturday to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 30.

Crews can fish the entire 32 hours or come back to the dock and head out offshore again after a break with the same or different anglers.

There are several added entry-level divisions, or wagering pools, which range in cost from $200 to $1,500, and include billfish, tuna, meatfish (dolphin, wahoo and shark) and small boat (38 feet and smaller).

In the “Talbot Street Stringer” calcutta, which has two levels ($500 and $1,000) to enter, teams can select any four fish they catch in 32 hours for a combined total weight.

The billfish release division, sponsored by Atlantic Tackle, was adjusted this year. Anglers can’t use live bait for the 2017 tournament release division.

This year there is no weight minimum for blue marlin, but the minimum length is 104 inches. Several blue marlin met the minimum length of 100 inches last year, but failed to make the 400-pound minimum, Roberts said. There is also no weight minimum for swordfish, but the length minimum is 56 inches.

“We wanted to make sure fish that come to the scale are given credit because they’re difficult to catch,” Roberts said.

Boats can depart from any port between New Jersey and Virginia. Teams can fish up to 125 nautical miles from the Ocean City sea buoy during the 2017 tournament. All fish must be weighed at the Talbot Street Pier.

“The format is the same – go out and catch the biggest fish,” Roberts said.

Tournament weigh-ins will take place from 4-9 p.m., Friday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29. The scale, located between M.R. Ducks and the Angler in downtown Ocean City, will be open from 4-8 p.m. Sunday, July 30. Weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

There will also be live music each evening, face painting for children and vendors selling artwork, clothing, fishing gear and event merchandise. International Marine Services will display the latest in electronics.

Scott Lenox, of Hooked on OC, will be the weigh-in emcee.

A total of 67 boats entered the 2016 tournament and $333,695 was distributed among the winners. It was a huge jump from 2015 when 46 boats participated and $202,000 was presented to the winners. That was also an increase from the first year in 2014 when 32 boats registered and $92,920 was awarded to the teams catching the top fish.

About 85 percent stayed offshore the entire 32 hours during the 2016 Classic. The Marli crew took top honors in the Heaviest Fish Division, with Tom Distefano’s 407-pound blue marlin. They also earned first place in the Heaviest Stringer Division for the 407-pound blue marlin combined with a 46-pound yellowfin tuna (453 pounds total). The group was awarded $105,270.

Fred Crickenberger landed a 193-pound mako shark to finish in second place in the Heaviest Fish Division. Crickenberger and his Foolish Pleasures teammates won $24,470.

The Fish Whistle brought in the third-heaviest fish of the tournament – Stephen Schwing’s 190-pound big eye tuna. Combined with a 17-pound dolphin, the team recorded a stringer weight of 207 pounds. The crew was presented $71,169.

Talbot Street Pier is the original spot where some of the first fish caught off the coast of Ocean City were weighed. About 100 years ago, the pier in downtown Ocean City was bustling with activity as anglers took their daily catches there. Organizers of the Big Fish Classic wanted to bring the action, and big fish, back to the pier.

Tournament proceeds will again benefit Diakonia, a residence in West Ocean City that provides emergency and transitional housing, food services, counseling and assistance to its guests; as well as the Ocean City Reef Foundation, an organization committed to the enhancement of local marine habitat through the creation and monitoring of artificial reef systems; and the Billfish Foundation, which is dedicated to conserving and enhancing billfish populations around the world.

Diakonia received $5,000 from 2016 Classic proceeds as well as fresh fish from tournament catches. The Ocean City Reef Foundation was presented $2,500. The organization is building a reef offshore named “Big Fish Classic.” The Billfish Foundation received $500.

For more information, visit www.bigfishclassic.com.

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