OAK BLUFFS — The spectators came by ferry, bike and car. They tied as many as five boats together on a single mooring and loaded eight people on a small dinghy. Children sat impatiently on their parents' shoulders.
All gathered to see who would come in with the biggest catch in the 23rd annual Monster Shark Tournament.
The winning fish, it turned out, was a 361-pound porbeagle shark hauled in on the Marshfield-based fishing boat Karen Jean II. The shark measured more than 7 feet long.
But that was just one of more than a dozen sharks that came in yesterday. The tournament, billed as a two-day contest, was in effect a one-day event because of turbulent seas Friday that kept most boats in port. Only one boat brought in a shark Friday, and that mako did not even meet the minimum weight requirement of 200 pounds.
About 130 boats went shark fishing yesterday. That number was down from years past because the recession has made the nearly $1,500 entry fee tough to swallow, said Steve James, who directs the tournament.
Those boats that landed sharks came into the harbor beginning at 3:30 p.m. The fearsome fish were hoisted up and weighed as the fishermen stood around taking pictures with their catch. The sharks were then measured and finally cut up, first by marine biologists conducting shark research and then by event staff, who preserved the heads and tails and edible portions.
The winner's prize will depend on many factors, James said, but they will go home with at least several thousand dollars in fishing gear and possibly a larger amount in cash prizes and a boat.
Read all of Paul Needham's story in the Cape Cod Times.