Ocean City Today

Ocean City Tuna Tournament runs through Sunday

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Jul 13, 2017
Photo by: FILE PHOTO Joe Czajkowski landed the largest tuna of the 2016 Ocean City Tuna Tournament, a 156-pound big eye. Czajkowski and his Fish Tricks teammates were awarded $216,512 for first place in the Single Largest Tuna Division.

(July 14, 2017) Captains and their crews will be on the hunt for yellowfin, bluefin and big eye tuna with hundreds of thousands of dollars to be won during the 30th annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament this weekend.

Tuna fishing was a little slow last weekend and earlier this week, but tournament Director Jennifer Blunt said the fish are in the area. Yellowfin are what have mostly been caught.

On Wednesday, Blunt said she hoped fishing would pick up in time for the tournament.

The cost to enter the tournament was $1,000 ($900 for early registration by July 7). Blunt said Wednesday that eight teams had pre-registered, which is a “usual amount.” Most wait until the final registration day, which was Thursday, July 13, to keep an eye on the forecast.

There are several new rules and added entry-level calcuttas for the 2017 competition.

This year, anglers can pass the rod while fighting a fish, with the exception of junior and lady anglers competing for those awards. If an angler is struggling to reel in a big tuna, another can take over to help bring the fish to the boat.

Paid captains and mates can’t be anglers. They can only hook a fish and hand the rod off to someone else.

Only one big eye can be weighed per boat each day. That fish can be added to stringer weight.

Weigh-in times on Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15 have been extended one hour and will now end at 8:30 p.m. Boats most reach the junction buoy by 8 p.m. Crews will then have 30 minutes to get their fish to the Ocean City Fishing Center scale in West Ocean City. Sunday will remain the same, with the scale closing at 7 p.m.

Organizers have also changed the boat size added levels. They are: boats 35 feet and under, 36-51 feet and 52 feet and larger.

To increase the chance for more participants to win money, organizers added two new “On the Board Reward” levels, as well as a largest bluefin tuna calcutta.

Altogether, there are 17 added entry-level calcuttas, or wagering pools, for the 2017 competition. The cost to enter them ranged from $100 to $5,000. Teams had the option to sign up for 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 cost to go across the board with the $1,000 entry fee for boats 52 feet and larger was $17,700; $17,450 for boats 36-51 feet; and $17,200 for boats 35 feet and smaller.

The Level H 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 or she signs up for the calcutta. In 2016, 39 of the tournament’s 78 boats entered the calcutta and the pot itself totaled $175,500.

Joe Czajkowski landed the largest tuna of the 2016 competition, a 156-pound big eye. Czajkowski and his Fish Tricks teammates were awarded $216,512 for first place in the Single Largest Tuna Division – $175,500 of that came from Level H.

Last year with 78 boats, $625,500 was awarded to tournament winners.

For 2017, fishing is permitted Friday through Sunday, July 14-16. Anglers fish two of the three days. Boats can leave either the Ocean City or Indian River inlets. Catches will be weighed at the Ocean City Fishing Center from 4-8:30 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.

Prize money will be awarded to the first-, second- and third-heaviest single tuna and the largest total catch weight.

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 (yellowfin, bluefin and big eye).

Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place in the Park Place Jewelers Ladies Division. A $1,500 award will be presented to the female angler who catches the largest tuna. Prizes of $1,000 and $500 will be distributed to second and third place, respectively.

A Junior Angler division is available for those 16 and younger. The winner will receive $1,000. Cash prizes of $500 and $250 will be presented to junior anglers who land the second- and third-heaviest fish.

There will also be prize money of $2,500, $1,000 and $500 for the first,- second- and third-largest dolphin.

Since several wahoo have been caught during the tournament over the years, organizers added a division for the fish last year and it was well received. Fifty-six of the 78 tournament boats entered the wahoo calcutta in 2016. The calcutta was also available this year.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the tournament, there will be a party on Saturday night under a tent at the Fishing Center from 7-10 p.m. The event is open to the public and free to attend. Drink specials will be offered and Hot Tub Limo band will perform.

There will be free parking that evening and during tournament weigh-ins in the West Ocean City Park & Ride. Free shuttles to and from the Fishing Center and Park & Ride will be available during weigh-ins.

For more information about the Tuna Tournament, call 410-213-1121 or visit www.octunatournament.com.

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