SEVERAL TOURNAMENT RECORDS BROKEN AS 2019 MIDATLANTIC COMES TO A CLOSE!It was a day for billfish and another nail-biting finish at sportfishing’s Main Event as “Moving Day” once again lived up to its storied reputation on the final day of the 2019 MidAtlantic! This tournament has a long and exciting history of major changes to the leaderboard on the final day of the event and this year’s Day Five was epic to say the least as the leaderboard once again took a beating in two of its major categories. With a tournament record $3.52 million on the line it was sure to be an exciting finish to the 28th edition of the MidAtlantic and indeed it was!
A strong cool front moved through the mid-Atlantic region as 120 boat headed offshore in a moderate chop on Day Five though it didn’t seem to have much impact on the billfish bite. Going into the final day of the tournament the leaders of the white marlin category had to be a bit nervous as the entire fleet was well aware the top three billfish of 71 pounds, 68 pounds and 67 pounds on the leaderboard were definitely within reach. Additionally, although over four dozen blue marlin had been caught through the first four days of the event, finding one that could break through the tournament’s 400-pound minimum weight proved difficult.
The drama began early on Day Five under rainy skies as the tournament’s official weigh stations at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland opened at 5 p.m. Captain Rob Skillman had Edward Bondarchuk’s Lighthouse Point, Florida-based Moore Bills waiting at the scale in Ocean City and weighed a white marlin of 72-pounds for angler Dan Bannercon to temporarily take the lead for the heaviest white marlin. That lead alone atop the leaderboard was very brief however as shortly thereafter Captain Rhett Bailey maneuvered Alan Sadler’s North Palm Beach, Florida-based Intents to the same scale and weighed an identical white marlin for angler Michelle Keeney to tie Moore Bills. The drama continued when Captain Paul Robertson aboard his Fishing for MD radioed the same weigh station indicating he too had a white marlin to weigh for his angler Ken Garufi. As rain continued to fall the crews from Moore Bills and Intents held their breath as Fishing for MD’s white marlin was measure and lifted to the scale and weighmaster Frank Ingram yelled out the weight at 67-pounds. No other white marlin were weighed and as the scales closed at 9 p.m. the celebration got underway! The final standings in the white marlin category found Moore Bills and Intents tied for the heaviest white marlin at 72 pounds and Intents received $527,977 while Moore Bills won $453,529. Brooks Smith’s Uno Mas from Stuart, Florida finished in third place with his 71-pounder caught on Day Three and received $111,288.
As noted earlier, no qualifying blue marlin had been weighed through the first four days of the tournament and many crews focused on that species on Day Five and the drama as fish were weighed was also intense as the standings changed quickly in this category as well. Captain Robbie Inglima had the Pipe Dreamer of Colts Neck, New Jersey’s Chip Caruso at the scale in Ocean City shortly after the 5 p.m. opening and put a 473-pounder on the board for Caruso, who was also the angler, to temporarily take the lead in the category. A little over an hour later, Ken Hager’s Taylor Jean based in Tinton Falls, New Jersey weighed a blue marlin of 452 pounds for angler Dave Mekendrick and temporarily moved into second place. The crews of Pipe Dreamer and Taylor Jean held their breath as they watched the weigh-in live via web cam from Cape May where Captain Shelby Myrick was backing Burke Wall’s Savannah, Georgia-based Trash Man to the scale with a blue marlin for angler Brian DeMille where Weighmaster Chris Booth noted the weight an yelled out “549 pounds” to the crowd of spectators at Canyon Club Resort Marina. However, a mere 10 minutes had barely gone by when Captain Howard Lynch pulled to the scale in Ocean City with Pasadena, Maryland’s Kristen Jezierski’s Haulin’ n’ Ballin’ to weigh a blue marlin for angler Zeb Zebley of 630 pounds, the heaviest blue marlin in the tournament. Haulin’ n’ Ballin’ received $556,365 for the heaviest blue marlin while Trash Man won $178,203 for the second heaviest blue marlin. For the third heaviest blue marlin Pipe Dreamer won $91,253.
The tuna category remained unchanged as the tournament drew to a close and a pair of big eyes of well over 200 pounds were hard to beat. Curtis Macomber of Berlin, Maryland aboard his Stalker weighed big eye tuna of 226 and 207 on Day Three and took the heaviest and second heaviest tuna in the category and received $802,275, a tournament record payout for a tuna winner! The third heaviest tuna belonged to Tommy Hancock of Isle of Palms, South Carolina on his Dem Boys and he received $147,353 for his 96-pounder which was caught on Day One.
In the dolphin category, Laytonsville, Maryland’s Todd Dickerson and his Top Dog and Baltimore, Maryland’s Curtis Campbell on Reel Estate finished tied for the heaviest dolphin at 33 pounds. Reel Estate’s dolphin was caught on Day One and Top Dog’s was caught on Day Two. Top Dog received $68,361 and Reel Estate won $34,474. Anthony Martina of Middletown, Delaware aboard his Sea Wolf finished with the third heaviest dolphin of 29 pounds which was caught on Day Three and received $12,586.
The wahoo division saw Newmanstown, Pennsylvania’s Ross Clubb aboard his Chain Reaction win the category with his 33-pounder which was caught on Day Two and receive $1410. Tucker Colquhoun of Ocean City, Maryland aboard Special Situation finished in second place and received $57,481 for his 29-pounder caught on Day One. Andy Schlotter of Hilltown, Pennsylvania on his My Time finished in third place and received $23,735 for his 28-pound ‘hoo which was also caught on Day One.
Some of the boats with significant billfish releases on Day Five included Luke Blum’s C Boys with five white marlin and one blue marlin released while Bob Genord’s Miss Victoria released five white marlin. Nick Neary’s Lit Up released four white marlin while Danny Veid’s Amarula Sun, Pat Healey’s Viking 72, Ted Wills’ Pipe Dream, Gary Stamm’s Buckshot and Anne Armendia’s Give it Away each released three white marlin. Matthew Weber’s Max Bet released two blue marlin and a white marlin while Mike Donohue’s Griffin released two blue marlin. Bill Haugland’s Light’s Out released a blue marlin and a white marlin. David Johnson’s JT, George Robinson’s Polarizer, Marty Judge’s Judge, Joe Robert’s Love Boat, Joe Rahman’s Auspicious, Anthony Matarese’s Reel Chaos and Alan Carter’s I-Carter each released a blue marlin.
A tournament record $3,528,760 was handed out to nearly three dozen various winners including seven checks of over six figures and another 17 checks of $15 thousand or more! Prize money totals awarded to the winners vary based on the level of calcuttas entered by each participant and the heaviest fish in each category may not receive the largest payout. Worthy of note is an incredible 73 blue marlin were caught during the tournament with 68 released which is a new tournament record for both figures! Additionally, while not a record, 487 white marlin were released by the fleet of 156 boats fishing three days each which translates to just over one white marlin released per-boat per-day!
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Ocean City Maryland Fishing Report
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