It’s hard to believe we’re nearing the halfway point of 2023! The calendar has already turned to June and the mild winter has given way to a somewhat cooler spring. The official start to the summer season is right around the corner and although the thermometer has been struggling to reach typical June temperatures, the start of the offshore season is already off to a red hot start! Thanks to a warm water eddy moving in to the southern canyons, many boats who have participated in the MidAtlantic over the years have already had very successful trips out to “The Edge.” The first big eye and yellowfin tuna hit the docks in late May followed by the first white marlin and blue marlin releases of the season during the first week of June. Add to those reports, the first wahoo and dolphin have already been landed. All in all it’s a great start to the 2023 season along the mid-Atlantic coast!
This year marks the 32nd installment of The MidAtlantic and plans are well underway for another memorable tournament. Who can forget last year’s down-to-the-wire finish where once again Day Five lived up to its “Moving Day” reputation when Captain Steve Castellini wheeled the Kaarmaa of Millstone, New Jersey’s Anthony Alves to the weigh station at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May and hung a 75-pound white marlin which netted the crew over $871,000! And let’s not forget the nail-biter when Captain Joe Trainor of Avalon, New Jersey aboard his Low Profile weighed a 657-pound blue marlin under the lights at Canyon Club Resort Marina just minutes before the scales would close! Trainor’s huge blue marlin took the top prize in the category of over $576,000! Though it wasn’t a photo finish on Day Five, those who targeted the species Thunnus during the week also fared very well and while plenty of yellowfins were weighed, three big eyes led the pack. Art Boykin of Berlin, Maryland on Lucky Duck weighed the heaviest tuna at 210 pounds and pocketed over $290,000 while Bob Hugin of Summit, New Jersey on his The Right Place won over $793,000 for a pair of tuna weighing 193 and 152 pounds which took second and third place. Payouts for the generally less glamourous species are also worthy of note as over $65,700 went to Plantation, Florida’s Charles Phelan aboard his Special Situation after he weighed a new tournament record wahoo of 104 pounds while Joseph Valentine of Fort Pierce, Florida aboard his Valentine netted a cool $78,000 his 43-pound dolphin.
The 32nd installment of The MidAtlantic is set for August 20-25 and is sure to attract a stellar field of participants from the entire Atlantic coast and beyond where they’ll shoot it out for a cash purse that’s once again expected to total several million dollars. Last year 178 boats battled for a total cash purse of well over $5.23 million! Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey will again, as always, be home port and tournament headquarters while Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland will be the event’s official satellite marina and port. The tournament gets underway at both tournament venues in the afternoon on Sunday, August 20 with Late Registration, Calcutta Entries and a Welcome Cocktail Party followed by a Captain’s Meeting. The fishing schedule allows participants to select three days to fish from Monday, August 21 through Friday, August 25. Boats may not pass their respective inlet’s sea buoy prior to 3 a.m. on their selected fishing days. No lines may be placed in the water prior to 8 a.m. and “Lines Out” is 3:30 p.m. each day. Regardless of sailing port, all boats must fish within 125 miles of the Cape May Sea Buoy. Any boated species eligible for weigh-in, including, white marlin, blue marlin, tuna (big eye, yellowfin or longfin), wahoo or dolphin, must be weighed at the participant’s sailing port marina by 9 p.m. on the day of catch. Any white marlin to qualify must weigh at least 65 pounds AND measure 69” while blue marlin must weigh 400 pounds and measure 102”. Note that all billfish measurements are from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork in the tail. Any eligible tuna must weigh at least 50 pounds while dolphin and wahoo minimum weights are 20 pounds respectively. There is no minimum length of tuna, wahoo or dolphin.
Entry fee for the tournament is $3000 and covers all the dockside dining, hospitality and entertainment for the week. Tournament prize money is totaled from a series of calcuttas, also known as side bets, and participants may enter any of the 11 calcuttas sanctioned by the tournament. These side bets have varying fees ranging from $1,000 to $32,000 and each has a designated payout structure and species. In other words, some calcuttas payout to the three heaviest species in the calcutta while others are one prize, winner take all. There’s even a calcutta for billfish release points. While entry to any calcutta is strictly optional, the payout potential increases based on the number of calcuttas a participant enters. In addition to cash prizes, the top three point winners in the white marlin, blue marlin and tuna categories each receive special tournament awards.
We’re a little over two months away from tournament week and registration to this year’s event has definitely been brisk. If you haven’t already done so you should make plans now to reserve you spot in the line up! It’s important to note that the number of entries per port may be limited. You don’t want to be left at the dock for what has always been sportfishing’s “Main Event”! For more information contact Tournament Director Aaron Hoffman at 609-884-0177 or visit the tournament’s web site at www.themidatlantic.com where you’ll find all the facts, figures and information about The MidAtlantic complete breakdown of calcuttas, rules, points, and a Tournament Week schedule. You can also follow along on social media Facebook at The MidAtlantic Tournament; on Twitter @midatl and on Instagram @themidatlantictournament.