O.C. Shark Tournament Calls It Quits After 34 Years - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

O.C. Shark Tournament Calls It Quits After 34 Years

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OCEAN CITY, Md.- After 34 years, the Ocean City Shark Tournament is over.

Mark and Charlotte Sampson, Wayne and Kathy Shelton and Doug and Vicki Cymek were the directors of the tournament.

Mark Sampson and Wayne Shelton started the tournament in 1981.

According to Shelton, when it started, there were no tournaments for shark fishing alone. Shelton says there was a lot of interest in shark fishing at the time, and the hit movie Jaws helped play a part.

"We were able to find a niche with this tournament," Shelton said.

Tournament organizers say in the first year, 13 boats and 39 anglers participated.

Organizers said during the first year in the tournament, one of the boats brought in a 627-pound Tiger Shark. The following year, a 674-pound Tiger Shark was caught, followed by a 1,210-pound Tiger Shark the third year, which has been mounted at the Ocean City Inlet, Sampson said.

The event lost money the first year, but Sampson said it continued to grow over the next few years. About 50 to 60 boats participated for many years and it didn't matter if the weather was bad until about 2008, organizers said.

"The tournament peaked with the highest entrees in 2008 with 80 boats...," Sampson said, adding there was a steady decline in participation since then.

The past three years, the event experienced bad weather and rough seas; there was also a change when tuna fishing began to start earlier, Sampson said.

"Back when we started in '81, fishing for sharks went all the way up to late-mid June and tuna didn't arrive at that time until after that," Sampson said.

According to tournament officials, anglers had to choose one or the other.

"Do they go out for tuna that they love to eat or do they fish for sharks that they may not like to eat and may just throw back anyway?" Sampson said.

There was also a decline in the economy that Sampson says had an impact on the tournament.

Last year's tournament saw about 13-18 boats participating, Sampson said.

"Anglers are looking for payouts because they make an investment with gas and equipment, and if they win, they want some incentive," he said. "We still wanted to give them a reasonable money incentive."

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