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Teen won't have to tell tale of the one that got away

August 16, 2008|By JANET HEIM

It's a fish story that Lance Crampton of Funkstown will be telling for years to come.

When he does, the 15-year-old will be sure to mention that on the first day of the 21st annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament on July 11, he and his team never had a bite.

To the dismay of the captain of their charter fishing boat - Marlin Magic - Lance announced they would not fish on the second day. While Lance, a sophomore at South Hagerstown High School, and his fellow fishermen - his father Paul Crampton Jr., Joe Burger and his 18-year-old son Jake Burger - spent Saturday on the beach instead, they couldn't help but hear of the success of others in the three-day tournament, in which entrants pick two days to fish.

"It was a great fishing day," Paul Crampton said of Saturday.

They went out Sunday morning, the pressure hanging heavy over them.

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The first bite of the day came at 9 a.m., with Lance at the reel. One hour and 42 minutes later, he landed the 190-pound bluefin tuna that earned him first place in both the Single Heaviest Tuna Division and Top Junior Angler Division.

"I was very relieved. It was really exciting," Lance said.

The Marlin Magic returned to shore about 4 p.m. and weighed in, but the team had to wait until after 7:30 p.m., the time limit for tournament boats to weigh in, for the final results. They learned of Lance's win over the boat radio.

"It was a really big thing, jumping up and down," Lance said.

Jake Burger, 18, of Williamsport, tied for third place in the Heaviest Dolphin Division with a 28-pound dolphinfish.

They were one of 128 boats competing in the tuna tournament. The team won a total of $88,552 in prize money for their catches.

While the prize money is nice, the respect and prestige that come with the win are more important, Lance Crampton said. That prestige landed the Cramptons, Burgers, Capt. Marty Moran and mates Tony Dicken and Anthony Pino on the front page of Coastal Fisherman, a fishing newspaper in Ocean City, Md.

As a result of his win, Lance Crampton has been invited to compete in a fishing tournament in May 2009 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Paul Crampton said even with the prize money from tournaments, he's a long way from breaking even on the cost of the boat, crew, equipment and entry fees, which can run as much as $1,000.

The elder Crampton said they started saltwater fishing eight or nine years ago. He now owns Marlin Magic, which he purchased from Moran and operates as a charter business year-round - the summer months in Ocean City, winter in Palm Beach, Fla., and spring in the Bahamas.

Strategy, preparation and luck are three of the keys to successful saltwater fishing.

"We're always outthinking the fish, trying to figure out what to do, what to use," Paul Crampton said.

"Some of it's luck, too - that one bite," said Lance Crampton.

Jack Burger knows the luck element all too well. Last year, he caught an 185-pound bluefish the day before a tournament began.

The winning fish weighed 184 pounds and second place was 183 pounds.

It also helps to have flexible jobs. All four members of the team work at Paul Crampton Contractors on Oak Ridge Drive. Paul Crampton is owner and president, Joe Burger is the excavation foreman, Jake Burger is an equipment operator and Lance Crampton does trim carpentry/labor.

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