The best week of the summer big game tournament season kicks off today as the 31st installment of sportfishing’s “Main Event” gets underway! The MidAtlantic typically draws the best boats from near and far and this year is no different as the tournament fleet has once again gathered to battle for another multi-million-dollar cash purse. At both tournament venues, Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland, the stage is set for another exciting week. Will it be as dramatic as last year when the tournament record for blue marlin was broken twice in 48 hours? That’s when an 1,135-pounder was taken aboard Jon Duffie’s Billfisher on the final day of the tournament, which incidentally is also the new state record for Maryland. Will there be three, million-dollar plus winners as was also the case last year? Will the red-hot big eye tuna bite of the last two weeks continue? All these questions and plenty more will be answered by 9 p.m. on Friday night.
Preparation is the key and crews will spend the final weekend before the tournament completing last minute tasks to ensure they’re ready to go. Some will use that time as pre-fishing days with the hope of finding their spot to fish their first day of the tournament or at the very least eliminating those which may not have potential due to water color, clarity, lack of bait concentrations or a sea surface temperature not to their liking. Others will use the time to rig ballyhoo, mullet and Spanish mackerel for baits and dredges. Last minute tackle checks are always important including spooling up reels with fresh line, sharpening hooks and properly setting drags.
Late entry registration, calcutta entries and a cocktail party take place at both tournament venues from 1– 4:30 this afternoon with a captain’s meeting set to follow immediately after. Over the next five days participants will select three to fish and they will focus their efforts on the canyons offshore pursuing white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, wahoo and dolphin. For a white marlin to make the leaderboard it must weigh 65 pounds and measure 69 inches while a blue marlin must weigh 400 pounds and measure 102 inches. There is no minimum length for tuna, wahoo or dolphin though any tuna, which includes big eye, yellowfin and true albacore, must weigh 50 pounds while wahoo and dolphin both have 20-pound minimum weight. Worthy of note is all billfish are measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail.
The tournament’s cash purse is compiled from fees of the 11 various calcuttas available for participants to enter. These added entries have an additional cost ranging from $1 thousand to $31 thousand and they can enter any, all or none. Some are winner-take-all while others are split proportionately and they are available for all five species for weighed fish and for billfish points. Last year’s event saw a field of 203 boats do battle for a total cash purse of nearly $6 million! Both are current tournament records. It all starts tomorrow and you’ll want to be locked-in to the tournament web site www.themidatlantic.com from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday where you can watch the weigh-in live feed from both tournament host marinas.
We will once again provide nightly updates after the scales close at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday which will include the day’s fishing activity. A complete tournament wrap-up will be sent out by 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 27. You can follow all the action of the 2022 MidAtlantic via the South Jersey Tournaments App which is available free for IOS or Android devices from the Apple App and Google Play stores.