Ocean City Today
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Fourth Big Fish Classic, Sept. 8-10

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Aug 31, 2017

(Sept. 1, 2017) The fourth annual Huk Big Fish Classic was originally scheduled to take place July 28-30, but because of poor weather conditions the event was postponed to Sept. 8-10.

“Fishing right now is still a little slow, but it’s picking up,” said Brian Roberts, co-director of the tournament. “It’s going to be fun. We anticipate a lot of big fish coming in.”

As of Monday, about 30 boats had pre-registered for the Classic, many of which are first-time participants. Teams have signed up from New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland.

Teams have the option to choose between two 32-hour slots: 7 a.m. Friday, Sept. 8 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, or 7 a.m. Saturday to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10. 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.

The cost to enter the tournament is $800 per boat. Final registration and a kick-off party will take place on Thursday, Sept. 7, from 4-8 p.m. at M.R. Ducks on Talbot Street, bayside. A captain’s meeting will follow.

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 or use dead tinker mackerel.

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, Sept. 8 and Saturday, Sept. 9. The scale, located between M.R. Ducks and the Angler in downtown Ocean City, will be open from 4-8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10. Weigh-ins are free and open to the public. 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.

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.

For more information, visit www.bigfishclassic.com.

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