Though technically summer is still officially a little over a week away, the offshore fishing season has already started off at a torrid pace! Boats sailing from Ocean City, Maryland to Manasquan, New Jersey and all ports in between have been racking up impressive catches of big eye and yellowfin tuna. The billfish season is also off to a fast start as blue marlin and white marlin releases are occurring regularly as the fleet cashes in on this early season bonanza. To round out the offshore menu plenty of gaffer-size mahi mahi are roaming the canyons looking for an easy meal and many have already hit the docks!
This year marks the 28th installment of sportfishing’s “Main Event” and preparations for the 2019 MidAtlantic are well underway. Set for August 18-23, the MidAtlantic will once again be staged at two of the east coast’s premier sportfishing marinas. As it always has, Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey will again be home base for the event while Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland will serve as the tournament’s second port venue. Participants may choose to fish out of either port for the week and both offer full weigh-in while each marina has their own dockside dining and hospitality schedule for the tournament’s participants. Tournament Week kicks off on Sunday, August 18 when Registration and Calcutta entries will be accepted at both venues followed by a Captain’s Meeting and Cocktail Party. Fishing days are August 19-23 and crews will pick three of the five days available to head offshore in search of white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, dolphin and wahoo. All boats, regardless of sailing port, must fish within 125 miles of the Cape May Sea Buoy and may not pass their respective sea buoy prior to 3 a.m. each day. Fishing hours are 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day and all fish to be weighed must be at the scale of either host marina by 9 p.m. on the day caught. This is a trolling only tournament and as such no live bait is allowed. There is no limit to the number of rods or teasers that can be used and IGFA rules apply except that the rod must immediately be passed from the crewmember who hooks the fish to the designated angler who fights the fish until boated, released or lost. Note that harpoons, dart gaffs and green sticks are prohibited.
The MidAtlantic’s base entry fee is $3000 and covers all the dockside dining, hospitality and activities for a crew of six. Prize money for the tournament, which last year topped $3.36 million, is tallied up from the event’s wide range of calcuttas. Ten of these side bets are available and with entry fees ranging from $1000 to $6000 to enter there’s an opportunity for each crew to win some serious cash! Last year’s event saw eight winners receive payouts of more than six figures while an additional eight winners received payouts of $25,000 or more! The top payout of the tournament went to Sean O’Donnell’s Cape May-based Got Game for weighing a 78-pound white marlin and he walked away with a tournament record white marlin payout of $905,408! Also faring quite well at last year’s event was Grasonville, Maryland’s Ed Dunn whose DA Sea took top prize and a tuna category record payout of $571,289 for his 116-pound big eye tuna!
Minimum weights for the tournament’s target species are set at 65 pounds for white marlin and 400 pounds blue marlin. Any tuna must weigh 50 pounds to win prize money and only big eye, yellowfin and true albacore are eligible. There is no minimum weight for dolphin or wahoo to win prize money. Points are awarded for all billfish and tuna weighed and all billfish released. Awards will be presented to the top three point winners in both billfish categories and the tuna category. An award will also be presented for the most points overall winner.
Last year’s MidAtlantic was one for the record books as a total of 844 billfish were caught. Of that total, 765 white marlin and 53 blue marlin were released which was the second highest Catch-Per-Unit-of-Effort (CPUE) in the MidAtlantic’s 27-year history and just short of 2016’s record CPUE with the same number of entries in the tournament! Other records set in 2018 in addition to those previously mentioned include the total cash purse of over $3.36 million and total number of blue marlin caught at 55.
Make your plans now to join us for tournament week at the 2019 MidAtlantic where the entire family is always welcome. You’ll enjoy world class hospitality at a beautiful setting during the best week of the summer offshore tournament season. And who knows, you might even be standing on the winner’s podium at the end of the week holding a big check! You can also warm up your tournament team during other upcoming MidAtlantic “Signature Series” events including the MidAtlantic Tuna Tournament set for June 19-23 and the MidAtlantic Cup Blue Marlin tournament on July 4. Additional upcoming events include the South Jersey Yacht Sales Offshore Showdown and the 53rd Annual Yacht Club of Stone Harbor Marlin Tournament. For more information and to register visit www.southjerseytournaments.com.
For additional information contact Tournament Director Aaron Hoffman at 609-884-0177. Be sure to visit the MidAtlantic tournament’s new web site at www.themidatlantic.com where you’ll find all the necessary information about this year’s event as well as tournament records, photos, rules, schedule and a downloadable brochure. You can also access the MidAtlantic through the South Jersey Tournaments App! Download it today for free on your IOS or Android device from the Apple App and Google Play stores. Additionally, follow the tournament on Facebook at The MidAtlantic Tournament; on Twitter; @midatl and on Instagram; @themidatlantictournament.