The Ocean City Fishing Club held its 44th annual Boys and Girls Surf Fishing Tournament next to the Ocean City-Longport Bridge on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.
The event attracted a near-record number of participants, with 115 registered young anglers in three age categories: 8-10, 11-13 and 14-16.
“The weather is perfect and the water is clear and clean (of seaweed),” former OCFC President Ben Werntz said of the large turnout.
The Ocean City Fishing Club, which operates the Ocean City Fishing Pier at 14th Street, holds the free annual tournament as a way to introduce and encourage young people to fish.
Club members and their spouses volunteer for the event, which includes judging and measuring the fish as well as teaching the young anglers the fundamentals of handling the rod and reel, bait and casting.
Maryann Hoban, co-organizer and wife of club member and tournament Chairman Ed Hoban, summarized the club’s thinking: “In today’s electronic world, it only takes a fishing rod and reel to turn a day into fun for any family,” she said.
She added, “This tournament is for children, because they are our future club members.”
The children had fun catching fish up and down the beach.
Carter Linden, of Ocean City, reeled in five flounder, while his friend Luke Finnegan caught four kingfish.
Todd Mallon, of Doylestown, Pa., had “fish on” with his daughter Hope, who caught five flounder, and son Ryan, who hauled in two flounder.
John Yost, of Tabernacle N.J., brought his four grandchildren to the tournament.
“We had a great time fishing, and all of the kids got good prizes,” Yost said. “That really made their day.”
All participants were awarded prizes, including bicycles for the overall boys and girls winners. Fishing rods and reels went to the top three anglers in each division.
Fishing supplies, cooler bags and gift certificates to local shops and restaurants were also handed out.
The OCFC was grateful to all of the generous local sponsors.
The bicycles, donated by the Miller family in memory of former club member and Tournament Chair Ralph and Marion Miller, were won by George Shimp and Danielle Audet for the two largest fish of the day.
The age division winners for most fish were:
8-10 11-13 14-16
Dean Teti Kaelyn Sheehan Alexis Erazmus
Robert Simiriglio Allie Darmohay Xavier Ladick
Julia Roman Hope Mallon Adam Madkour