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Thousands of pounds of tuna were caught and hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for the Alzheimer’s Association last week as the Bluefin Blowout tournament returned to Gloucester, the United State’s oldest fishing port, following a two-year hiatus forced by COVID.

“We had great weather and really wonderful fishing conditions,” says Warren Waugh, managing partner of event sponsor and organizer Lyon-Waugh Auto Group. “We had good crowds, we had very competitive captains and crews, and the fish cooperated. The giant bluefin tuna were in abundance.”

The winning fish weighed in at 688 pounds, earning Gloucester-based crew of the Easy Scrapin’, a cash prize of $125,000 – the tournament’s largest payout ever – along with fishing gear, artwork, and more prizes. Captain Junior Dunne immediately donated part of the winnings to the Alzheimer’s Association. A total of 20 tuna were hauled in as part of the two-day competition.

The organizers set a fundraising goal of $500,000 this year, but still have some calculations to do before they are ready to release how much money was raised for the Alzheimer’s Association during this year’s event. Each year the tournament’s fundraising targets – and achievements – have grown. In 2018, the event raised $155,000; in 2019, the total more than doubled to $366,000.

Some 65 boats – some from as far away as Florida – entered the tournament this year. Following a welcome dinner on July 26 evening, captains were allowed to set out in search of their quarry at 10 p.m. (though actual fishing did not commence until after midnight).

“There was quite a parade of boats going through the cut bridge in Gloucester that night,” Waugh says, referring to the drawbridge boats must pass by when departing the Cape Ann Marina Resort.

Throughout the next two days, boats that hooked a tuna brought their catch back to the marina to be weighed in as a crowd of supporters lined the docks to watch. Tournament co-founder Drew Hale stood on the docks welcoming each boat the pulled in, while local DJ Scottie Mac played each crew’s favorite music to mark their arrival.

Warren Waugh

The Bluefin Blowout began in 2012 as the project of businessmen and amateur fishermen Drew Hale and Rob Bouley. The event grew steadily every year until, in 2017, longtime sponsor Lyon-Waugh took over coordinating the event. Warren Waugh’s late wife suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, so the cause was very personal to him.

Waugh knows this year’s fundraising goal is ambitious, but he is determined to meet it. Donations to help reach this target can be made at the Bluefin Blowout website.

“It’s a real lofty goal these days,” Waugh says “But we sure have some generous people across the North Shore and its been a delight to work with them to find a cure for this disease.”