The big game fishing season is off to an exciting start in the mid-Atlantic region as eddies of beautiful Gulf Stream blue water carrying schools of forage species have blended into the canyons off the south Jersey coast. Thanks to this nutrient-rich water pods of white marlin have followed the baitfish along with numerous blue marlin over the past few weeks. Billfish release flags have been flying daily from boats hailing from ports in the region. Big eye and yellowfin tuna catches have also impressed and there are enough dolphin (mahi mahi) and wahoo around to make things even more interesting. Offshore fanatics have been using this exceptional bite to hone their dropback and circle hook skills on the billfish for the tournament season while also scoring fine tablefare for dinner as well. And with the 2020 MidAtlantic a little over a month away, who can blame them!
The MidAtlantic annually draws many of the sport’s biggest names and this year’s tournament should be no different. The 29th edition of sportfishing’s “Main Event” is set for the week of August 16-21 and if early registration is any indicator, it’s gonna be another awesome event! With a projected cash purse of well over $3.5 million, it’s no wonder this event draws boats from up and down the east coast to the event’s host marina, Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland, the tournament’s second port base. Participants may fish from either port though one of the two ports must be selected when registering and participants must sail and return to their respective home port each fishing day. Regardless of which port they choose, all boats must fish within 125 miles of the Cape May Sea Buoy.
A wide range of optional calcuttas with fees ranging from $1000 to $6000 provide the prize money which is awarded for the three heaviest white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, dolphin and wahoo. Three unique winner-take-all calcuttas are available for the single heaviest white marlin, blue marlin and tuna. A billfish points calcutta awards cash for the top three places for billfish points and this calcutta is port specific paying out three prizes for Cape May and three prizes for Ocean City. Entry in all calcuttas is completely optional and participants may enter any, all or none. However, cash payouts to winners increase significantly based on the level of participation by each entrant. Last year’s MidAtlantic saw 36 different winners including seven payouts of six figures or more!
Minimum weights for billfish to win cash at the MidAtlantic are set at 65 pounds for white marlin and 400 pounds for blue marlin. Any tuna to win cash must weigh at least 50 pounds and only big eye, yellowfin and true albacore are eligible. There is no minimum weight for wahoo or dolphin to win cash. Billfish points are earned for released fish as well as those weighed and awards are presented to the top three point earners in both billfish categories. Tuna points are earned for weighed fish and awards are presented for the top three point earners in that category as well. Additionally, the most points overall award is presented to the boat with the highest earned total of points. Both marlin and tuna points are tallied in this category.
Worthy of note this is a trolling only tournament where IGFA rules apply except that a fish may be hooked by any crewmember provided the rod is handed off immediately to the angler who then fights the fish until boated or released. No harpoons, dart gaffs or greensticks are allowed and there is no limit to the number of lines or teasers though live bait is not permitted for fishing or teasers.
As noted earlier, advance registration is running ahead of previous years and those considering entry should keep in mind port caps are set at 95 boats each for Cape May and Ocean City. Additionally, due to the current environment which requires social distancing, there will no doubt be an impact should participants wait to register in person on August 16 during the tournament’s late registration and calcutta sign up at either venue. Tournament management encourages those considering entering the 2020 MidAtlantic to complete the process online by visiting the tournament’s official web site at www.themidatlantic.com where a link will allow registration. You’ll also find a complete breakdown of the calcutta structure, fees and payouts and can enter them there as well. Additionally, there’s a complete rundown of the tournament’s rules, schedule, points and prizes.
Presently, dockside social activities are being worked out and will be subject to what is allowable at both ports to maintain safe, social distancing of all participants. It should be noted that the health, safety and well-being of all tournament participants, guests and tournament staff are of utmost priority.
Don’t be left out! Sign up today for what is sure to be another memorable MidAtlantic. This family-friendly event is the perfect opportunity to social distance properly, spend quality time on “The Rip” and take a shot at a payday that’s akin to hitting the lottery! Come and be part of one of the highlights of the summer offshore fishing season!
For further information contact Tournament Director Aaron Hoffman at 609-884-0177. Be sure to visit the tournament’s official web site at www.themidatlantic.com where you’ll find all the facts, figures and information about this year’s event including a complete rundown of calcutta payouts, rules, points, photos and an event schedule. There’s also a link to purchase official tournament merchandise. You can also follow the tournament Facebook at The MidAtlantic Tournament; on Twitter; @midatl and on Instagram; @themidatlantictournament.