It’s been said timing is everything and the white marlin bite that’s building right now couldn’t have happened at a better time! The canyons off the mid-Atlantic coast are alive with life as beautiful warm cobalt blue water has moved in bringing schools of baitfish with packs of white marlin right on their tails! Boats from Cape May, New Jersey and Ocean City, Maryland have reported seeing upwards of two dozen white marlin a day with many racking up double-digit releases! Blue marlin have also showed up in numbers and encounters with large tackle-busting blues have been reported. The tuna bite has also held its own and several big eyes of over 200 pounds have been decked while some fair sized yellowfins have also found the fish box chill plate as well. Throw in a nice mix of dolphin and wahoo and you have what’s setting up to be an exciting offshore season as we fish our way through the month of August!
All this bodes well for those planning to battle it out at the 25th Annual MidAtlantic which is set for August 21-26. With a projected cash purse of nearly $3 million or more this event continues to attract the best boats and crews from New England to Florida and beyond and this year is no different and with a little less than two weeks to go entries have been received at a brisk pace. Two ports are available to sail from during the tournament and entrants may fish from either Cape May or Ocean City, Maryland. Canyon Club Resort Marina is the tournament’s headquarters and the focal point of all the dockside hospitality in Cape May while Sunset Marina in Ocean City will host tournament participants there. It’s important to note that in order to maintain the MidAtlantic’s signature high standard of dockside service and hospitality port caps have been set at 85 participants from each of the two host ports. In fact, entries for Cape May are well ahead of last year and Ocean City is nearly at its 85-boat maximum!
Tournament week kicks off on Sunday, August 21 with last minute registration, calcutta entries and a cocktail party set for both tournament venues from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. followed by a Captain’s Meeting at 4:30 p.m. Fishing gets underway on Monday, August 22 and ends on Friday, August 26 and boats will select three days during that timeframe to fish the canyons offshore. While two ports are available, all boats must fish within 125 miles of the Cape May Sea Buoy. Boats may not clear their respective sea buoy before 3 a.m. each day. Fishing begins at 8 a.m. and lines out is 3:30 p.m. each day. All fish to be weighed must be at the scale of the host marina of their sailing inlet by 9 p.m. IGFA rules apply except that a fish may be hooked by any crewmember and the rod immediately handed off to angler who fights the fish until boated or released.
Base entry fee is $2500 and includes dockside dining and hospitality for a crew of six. All tournament proceeds are tallied from no less than 10 calcuttas which have separate entry fees ranging from $1000 to $6000 and participants may enter any, all or none. It’s worthy of note that for as little as $3500, $2500 base entry plus $1000 entry in one of the calcuttas, a participant can win substantial cash and enjoy the opportunity of competing in one of sportfishing’s premier events against a fleet of world class boats, anglers and crews. Enter all 10 calcuttas and you’re likely competing for a top prize in the white marlin category in the high six-figure range.
Unlike other tournaments which focus their top payout on one fish, the MidAtlantic always has had a philosophy of offering more ways to win cash for its participants. In fact last year’s event awarded seven winners payouts of six figures or more and 14 winners received payouts of $30 thousand or more! Michael Savino of Staten Island, New York led the way capturing $714,259 for his 77-pound white marlin aboard his Texas Tea. Additionally, the blue marlin category saw nearly $830 thousand paid out to the three winners while tuna category was hotly contested and nearly $962 thousand was awarded to seven different winners in that category! Need more incentive? How about nearly $50 thousand paid out to the winners of the dolphin and wahoo categories!
Minimum weight for white marlin is 65 pounds while a blue marlin must weigh at least 400 pounds to qualify and any big eye, yellowfin or true albacore must weigh at least 50 pounds to qualify. Points will be awarded for all billfish released and those over the minimum weight which are weighed as well as for tuna weighed. Valuable awards will be presented to the top three point winners in the white marlin, blue marlin and tuna categories. Additionally, new this year and sure to generate a lot of participation is the Atlantic Tackle Billfish Points Calcutta, a port specific calcutta meaning one for Cape May and another for Ocean City, and pays out to the Most Points, 2nd Most Points and 3rd Most Points earners of billfish release points!
Time is getting short so if you’re planning on being part of the Silver Anniversary Edition of The MidAtlantic you need to act now! Tournament spots are going fast and you need to contact Tournament Director Aaron Hoffman at 609-884-0177 to reserve your spot. You can also visit the tournament’s official web site at www.themidatlantic.com where a tournament brochure which contains a complete breakdown of calcutta payouts, rules, points, event schedule and a tournament entry form is available for download. Also, follow us on Facebook at The MidAtlantic Tournament; on Twitter; @midatl and on Instagram; @themidatlantictournament. Come catch your share of the jackpot!