Photo: Haulin' and Ballin'/ Facebook

Surprise Endings at Mid-Atlantic 500 Offshore Fishing Tournament

What a summer it was on the blue water fishing circuit– especially for the crew who won big at three Bay-region tournaments to bring home $1.5 million.

The most recent event, the 28th Annual Mid-Atlantic 500 that ended Friday evening, was chock full of excitement since the final outcome wasn’t settled until the very end. 

Rain and a cold front didn’t dampen the action as 120 boats of 156 fleet headed offshore last Friday in a moderate chop and a tournament-record $3.52 million up for grabs. Weigh stations at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland only added to the suspense. 

The blue marlin division was set up for a nailbiter in the final day because no blue had met the 400-pound qualifying weight for the first four days. That meant big money was up for grabs, so naturally many crews focused on that species on day five. Pipe Dreamer put a 473-pounder on the board. The crew of Taylor Jean weighed in a 452-pound blue to take second place. Georgia-based Trash Man weighed in a monster at 549 pounds, with many thinking they’d end up the winner. No so. Ten minutes later owners Kristen and Aaron Jezierski’s Haulin’ n’ Ballin’ backed up to the scales to weigh in a 630-pound blue marlin for the win, caught by angler Zeb Zebley.

Haulin’ n’ Ballin’ received $556,365 while Trash Man won $178,203, and Pipe Dreamer won $91,253. An incredible 73 blue marlin were caught, 68 of which were released, both tournament records. Speaking of records, the Haulin’ n’ Ballin’ team has been on an impressive roll this summer: Not only did the team win White Marlin Open’s blue marlin division ($962,000), angler Kristy Frashure nabbed a new Maryland state record mahi, a 74.5-pounder, at the Poor Girls Open ($13,447.50).

If you’re keeping track, Haulin’ n’ Ballin’ has brought home total winnings of more than $1.53 million for the three tournaments.

The 500’s white marlin leaderboard also shuffled around on the final day a few times, giving some crews only brief moments of joy before their hopes were dashed by other crews’ bigger fish. When the scales finally closed, Moore Bills and Intents were tied for the heaviest white marlin at 72 pounds; Intents won $527,977 while Moore Bills won $453,529 due to Calcuttas entered. Third place went to Uno Mas with a 71-pounder, caught on day three, worth $111,288. Fishing for MD made things interesting but their white tapped out at 67 pounds, though they did win the Boats Under 50 Feet category. They won $19,740.

-Capt. Chris Dollar