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Vol 46 | Num 13 | Jul 28, 2021

The Offshore Report Ocean City Report Delaware Report Chum Lines Ship to Shore The Galley Issue Photos
The Offshore Report

Article by Larry Budd

This Week Last Year
• The 2020 Big Fish Classic had 105 boats register and a purse of just under $900K. A record for both. It was angler Kramer Whitlaw that got the ‘Big Fish’ with a blue marlin at 384 lbs. The billfish division’s top 2 spots were only separated by 1/2 pound. The “Chaser” at 80.5 lbs. and the “Leslie Ann” at 80 lbs.
• Chunking at the Hot Dog was yielding limit catches for yellowfin tuna early in the week, however the bite slowed considerably as the week progressed.
• For those that took the time to venture to the Washington and Norfolk Canyons, there were nice bull dolphins being boated.

Last week into Saturday saw generally good offshore fishing and moderate weather. While starting off a little slow, last Wednesday turned on the bite for tuna and white marlin, only to moderate again as we approached the 8th Annual Big Fish Classic.

With an all time high of 110 boats registered and a record purse of over $1.22 M and a good weather forcast for Saturday and Sunday, the Big Fish Classic was destined to be epic. The Big Fish is unique in a few ways in that unlike most tournaments where you select a few days out of the total to fish, this event features two fishing windows. One that starts on the first day at 7AM through the next at 3PM, and the second window following the same pattern starting on day 2. Boats may fish overnight and most do. With questionable weather forecast for Sunday, 97 boats elected to fish on the Friday/Saturday 32-hour window, so all the offshore action was concentrated on those two days!

Day 1 at the scales saw only a few boats come back to the scales, however for the ones that did they put some nice fish up. First in was the “Cinde Anne” with a nice 63 lb. white marlin. This was followed by two nice swordfish from just north of the Baltimore Canyon. The first one at 159 lbs. came in on the Small Boat category “Longshot” and the second at 184 lbs. was from the “Restless Lady II who also weighed two mahi with the largest at 25.5. This set a good tone for the event, however we all knew that Saturday would be busy.

It did not take long for the boats to arrive at the scales on day2. The yellowfin tunas rolled in starting with Capt. Johnny Oughton on the “That’s Right” with a stringer of tuna at 161 lbs. A great beginning, but over double that would be needed to place by the end of the day! The pace remained steady with over 40 boats bringing fish to the docks and forcing the scales to run past the 9PM closing time for another 30 minutes to get them all the boats that arrived in time processed.

Yellowfin tuna dominated the tuna category, yet size proved to be a challenge. The tournament minimum was 35 pounds and many fish came in just under with lots left on the boats that were above the federal length limit but were visibly not going to weigh 35 lbs. So the good news was the fishing was good, but it would take a special catch or finding a group of 40+ pound yellowfins to place in the tuna stringer categories. Three boats did a combination of both with two on coming in on day 2 . First the “Mj’s” brought a 104.5 lb. yellowfin that most thought would be a lock only to be outdone by the “Chaser” who closed out the day with a 111 lb. yellowfin they found in 1200 fathoms in the Spencer Canyon about 102 miles from Ocean City!
As the day progressed it was becoming evident that the big fish for the “Big Fish” would be swordfish. “Dirt Money” started with a 142.5 lb. fish, followed by a 213 lb. sword that was caught on the “Playmate” on a lure with a Trump label! They just kept coming with the “FFMD” pushing up the bar to 239.5 lbs. with a sword they caught near the Southern Heyes Canyon and “Fabricator” landing 2 swords with only 2 people on board. It all came to a crescendo though at 7:40 PM when the “Real One” brought their 301 lb. sword to the scales! Beyond jumping to the top of 6 or 7 Divisions of the tournament, this fish represents and most likely new Maryland State Record.

Day 3 only had 13 boats still fishing but did see some excitement as the leader board continued to shift. The “Rebel” brought the first update with the only wahoo brought to the scales by a boat in that Division. Their nice 61 pounder took all the wahoo and shark money, stealing a little bit from the lead mahi had no wahoo been reported! The final change came from the “Sea Note” and a 104 lb. yellowfin they raised in the Washington Canyon, putting all three top Heaviest Yellowfin Tuna’s above 100 lbs.

It was a great event hosted by the Lewis family and the Talbot Street Pier. Check out more details on catch locations, tactics and stories in our coverage starting on page 72.

Upcoming Tournaments

Two big tournaments are on the immediate horizon!

• The 13th Annual OC Marlin Club’s Ladies tournament, “Heels and Reels”, hits the scales at Atlantic Tackle on July 30 & 31. Sure to be fun with categories for billfish release, tuna and mahi as well as anglers in themed outfits! Check out ocmarlinclub.com for details.
• The big show of the 48th White Marlin Open starts on Monday August 2 and runs through the 6th. Scales will be at Harbor Island as usual, however we recommend checking out the Marlinfest, a new free outdoor viewing experience at the 3rd Street Bayside Ballpark that will coincide with the 48th annual fishing tournament. The event will feature a festival-like atmosphere as well as real-time, unobstructed views of the live stream of the tournament weigh-ins via large LED screens.
• Follow our Tournament Schedule in the paper and online to keep up to date!

Until next week, I will see you at the scales! §

Coastal Fisherman Merch
CF Merch



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