The Wedgeport Tuna Tournament & Festival is an annual event that takes place near the end of August. In the mid 1900s, we used to be able to catch plenty of tuna just off the coast of Wedgeport, however presently, most of the participating boats sail 12 hours from the wharf to a place called the “Hell Hole”, it is located south of Brown’s Bank and northeast of George’s Bank.
Since its revival in 2004, the Wedgeport Tuna Tournament & Festival has grown each year, always attracting more participants, more tuna and of course more spectators at its various week-long events. Hundreds of volunteers and sponsors help every year in making our tournament possible. An event this size helps draw people to our village and brings our community together.
Each year, thanks to the South West Nova Tuna Association, we have been allotted 3200lbs of quota for Bluefin tuna. This allows us on average 10 Bluefin. In the past 12 years, hundreds of tuna have been landed in the Wedgeport Tuna Tournament & Festival. The biggest Bluefin landed since the tournament's revival was 796 lbs, caught in 2014 by the Atlantic Angler.
From 1935 to the mid-1960s, Wedgeport was once the Sport Tuna Fishing capital of the world. What attracted the Bluefin tuna close to the shores of Wedgeport was the abundance of feed, making the Tusket River and the Tuna Rip excellent tuna fishing grounds. Rod and reel tuna fishing began in 1935 when Michael Lerner, accompanied by his guide Tommy Gifford, were told there was plenty of tuna off Wedgeport. Many fishermen made fun of him but he managed to convince Évée LeBlanc to bring him out fishing. To everybody’s surprise, he caught 5 Bluefin during his first visit to Wedgeport. Two years later, in 1937, Wedgeport saw the birth of the International Tuna Cup Match organized by S. Kip Farrington, Jr. Following 1937, some 28 different countries participated in the International Tuna Cup Match. People were especially drawn to the Tournament but they also chartered boats during the summertime for fun.
Hundreds of Bluefin were caught each year off the coast of Wedgeport, but one year shone above the rest by match standards. In 1949, 72 Bluefin tuna were caught during the International Tuna Cup Match making a total weight of 30,161 lbs. That was the most tuna as well as the highest weight ever caught in a match to date.
During the International Tuna cup matches the winning team would be awarded the Alton B. Sharp Cup, the 5th oldest cup in international sport.
The tournament stopped being held in South West Nova Scotia in 1976 due to lack of fish. The plentiful tuna waters off Wedgeport had stopped being home to hundreds of Giant Bluefin.
In 2004, 28 years after the tournament was stopped in Wedgeport, it was revived. A small group of Wedgeporter’s integrated the tuna tournament with the Yarmouth Shark Scramble. Sadly, no fish was caught that year. Wedgeport did not give up and the following year, 2 Bluefin were landed. In 2008, 16 Bluefin tuna were landed. This was amazing for the Wedgeport Tuna Tournament & Festival because, including the prime years of fishing in the mid-1900’s, there were only 4 International Cup Matches that caught more than 2008. Wedgeport has succeeded in reestablishing itself in the tuna world.
The Wedgeport Tuna Tournament & Festival has been a success since its revival, becoming an annual event. It gets larger each year, attracting more fishermen from diverse places in the world and larger crowds making the Wedgeport Tuna Tournament a success each year!
TUNA FESTIVAL IN WEDGEPORT
Tuna fishing fever is contagious! Get in on the fun by taking part in a new version of this old tradition. Between 1930 and 1960, the small harbour of Wedgeport, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, was a vibrant center for tuna fishing; every summer the village organized a tuna festival known the world over. That is, until 1976 when a dwindling resource brought all activities to a halt.
Now, the tuna are back! And since 2004, so is the festival!! And it is growing steadily. No need to be part of the select group of tuna fisherman, the event is open to all and offers a unique opportunity to learn about this activity and to admire the spectacular catches.
And there is so much more to see and do! On the eve of the event do not miss the fireworks; the next day, take in all the action on Breakwater wharf, in Wedgeport, as the determined crews get ready to sail away for the competition. The atmosphere is quite festive.
While the competition is going on at sea, on land the party continues in typical Acadian fashion! There are activities for young and old, shows, painting workshops and even … a herring toss. You have never heard of this competition? It’s a must-do.
The fishing boats come back on Friday and you want to be on the wharf to witness the event as each tuna is brought ashore and weighed. The winner (you guessed it!) is the crew that landed the biggest fish.
And if tuna is not a favourite of yours, remember that you are in an Acadian village and that LOBSTER is never far! That Friday, all sorts of fish and seafood will be on offer: lobster, clams, scallops, quahogs, chowders and, of course, really fresh tuna.