It’s hard to believe a quarter century has passed since the inaugural MidAtlantic was held where the first cash purse of over one million dollars at a billfish tournament held anywhere in the world was distributed. Back then it was far and away a record for that era and indeed raised the bar in tournament prize money. Fast forward to 2016 where the Silver Anniversary MidAtlantic smashed its own record book by dolling out over $3.1 million with seven tournament category winners receiving six-figure payouts including nearly $750 thousand for the heaviest white marlin, $531 thousand for the heaviest blue marlin and $374 thousand for the heaviest tuna! Another significant figure worthy of note was the number of billfish caught as the timing for the bite to go off along the mid-Atlantic coast was perfect for tournament participants. When the dust settled a tournament record 810 white marlin had been caught with 780 released while 30 blue marlin were caught including 25 released. The total billfish catch of 840 marlin combined by the tournament’s fleet of 157 boats each fishing three days translated to a tournament record 1.78 billfish per boat per day!
What’s in the cards for 2017? It’s hard to say but records are likely to once again fall and preparations are now in full swing for The MidAtlantic which is set for the week of August 20-25. This year marks the 26th installment of sportfishing’s “Main Event” on the tournament calendar and once again due to the continued growth and popularity of the tournament two venues will be provided. As always, Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey will serve as the event’s official headquarters while Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland will once again be the tournament’s official satellite port. Last year “port caps” were added in an order to maintain the tournament’s renowned signature service and dockside hospitality. For 2017 these caps have been increased to 95 boats at both tournament ports.
Tournament Week will kick off at both venues on Sunday, August 20 where Registration, Calcutta Entries and a Welcome Cocktail Party is slated from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. followed immediately by the Captain’s Meeting. The tournament’s Captain’s Choice format provides five days of fishing and participants will select three of the days from Monday, August 21 thru Friday, August 25 to head offshore. Boats must declare an official sailing port for the week, either Cape May or Ocean City, and all boats must fish within 125 miles of the Cape May Sea Buoy regardless of their port choice. Boats are not permitted to clear the sea buoy of their designated inlet before 3 a.m. each day. No lines are allowed in the water before 8 a.m. and fishing ends each day at 3:30 p.m. Full weigh-in of all species is provided at both tournament venue host marinas. Scales open at 5 p.m. each day and close promptly at 9 p.m. and all fish must be weighed from the vessel which they were caught.
This is a trolling only tournament and IGFA equipment and angling rules apply except any fish may be hooked by any crewmember and handed off to an angler who then must fight the fish until boated, released or lost. Additionally, no harpoons, dart gaffs or greensticks are allowed and live baiting is not permitted. There is no limit to the number of lines or teasers
The tournament’s entry fee of $2500 covers all dockside dinners and hospitality for six crewmembers. All tournament prize money comes from the event’s 10 calcuttas which have fees ranging from $1000 to $6000 and payout at various percentages based on each calcutta’s species and individual requirements. In other words, some are one prize winner-take-all, others payout numerous places while others still payout for release points. Participants may enter as many or as few calcuttas as they wish and those who desire to do so can still participate and compete similar to the way they have in previous MidAtlantic events. Species available to win prize money include white marlin and blue marlin, which have minimum weights of 65 and 400 pounds respectively. Tuna, including big eye, yellowfin and true albacore, as well as dolphin and wahoo are also eligible to win cash. The minimum weight for tuna is 50 pounds while dolphin and wahoo have no minimum weights. Additionally, valuable trophies will be awarded to the top three point winners in the white marlin, blue marlin and tuna categories as well as the most points overall.
The MidAtlantic has a long standing history of paying out large cash prizes to many winners thanks to the event’s calcutta structure and 2016 was no different as no less than 35 tournament winners won cash including seven receiving payouts ranging from $750 thousand to $110 thousand while an additional 13 winners won $25 thousand or more! Worthy of note is the tuna category which saw payouts of $375 thousand, $263 thousand and $176 thousand for the three heaviest of that species! The heaviest wahoo was worth over $69 thousand while the heaviest dolphin earned over $26 thousand. It should be noted the second heaviest dolphin in the tournament was worth over $44 thousand since the heaviest dolphin was not in all the calcuttas.
In other news The MidAtlantic is proud to announce Christi Insurance has signed on as the sponsor for the popular On the Board Reward Calcutta. Christi Insurance is a longtime supporter of the MidAtlantic tournament as well as other South Jersey Tournaments events and we’re pleased to now have them as the signature sponsor for Christi Insurance On the Board Reward. This unique Calcutta pays out to its participants each time they have a white marlin, blue marlin or tuna on the board at the close of the day’s weigh-in session.
If offshore tournament fishing is your passion and you’re looking to be part of what’s sure to be another exciting MidAtlantic you should act now to reserve your spot in the tournament field. For further information contact Tournament Director Aaron Hoffman at 609-884-0177 or visit the tournament’s official web site at www.themidatlantic.com where you’ll find all the information on this year’s event including a schedule, rules, calcutta breakdown and printable tournament brochure and entry form. You can also follow the tournament on Facebook at The MidAtlantic Tournament and on Twitter @midatl and also on Instagram @themidatlantictournament.