OCEAN CITY- The resort area’s collective hangover from last week’s White Marlin Open has just about worn off in time for the next big event on the summer sportfishing calendar- the Mid-Atlantic $500,000, a Cape May, N.J.-based tournament that will again have a strong presence in Ocean City again this year.
Now in its 20th year, the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 continues to be one of the top sport fishing events in the region with over $2 million in prize money expected to be doled out again this year. Tournament headquarters has always been the Canyon Club in Cape May, and that hasn’t changed, but the increased number of boats from the resort area has given the event a decidedly Ocean City flair.
Eight years ago, MA500 organizers opened up Ocean City as a second port from which to fish and the change was met with great enthusiasm. For the first two years, however, any Ocean City boat that caught a qualifying fish had to transport it to the official scales in Cape May.
Six years ago, however, Sunset Marina in West Ocean City was added as an official sister port for the event and local anglers participating in the MA500 began to weigh potentially winning fish at their homeport. For three straight years, a boat fishing out of Ocean City swooped in on the last day to steal the tournament’s top prize, and a little bit of the thunder from their Jersey Shore brethren, with a big white marlin.
Last year, the MA500 was off to a good start with lots of big fish on the leaderboard in several categories before the tournament was shut down by the pending arrival of Hurricane Irene. With coastal areas in Maryland and New Jersey evacuated, the last day of the tournament was scrapped. The abbreviated tournament was bad news for most boats, but good news for those who got on the leaderboard before it came to an end. For example, the crew on the “Lady Luck V” out of Ocean City had the heaviest white marlin on the board, an 82-pounder worth $380,700.
The MA500 gets underway on Sunday with registration and captains meetings in Cape May and at Sunset Marina in West Ocean City. Monday is the first official fishing day and boats must choose to fish three of the five days. Weigh-ins will be held at Sunset Marina each day from 5-9 p.m.