OCEAN CITY –The biggest white marlin in Maryland sport fishing history could be finding a home on Ocean City’s Boardwalk in the near future.
Charles Kratz, captain of the boat that caught the 135-pound white marlin nearly 30 years ago, came before the Mayor and City Council this week, explaining his desire to donate the fish, along with a trophy case, to be on display in the town.
The 135-pound, 102-inch-long white marlin was caught on Aug. 29, 1980 by angler George Pierson, with the help of mates John Ingram and Dick O’Neil and Kratz.
“When we reached over, John grabbed it by the bill and pulled it right over into the boat,” recalled Kratz this week.
Today, the marlin hangs in Kratz’s house, but his long-term goal is to see the fish on display in the resort, home to the biggest marlin tournaments in the world, the White Marlin Open. Kratz added that he has been enjoying the resort for over 70 years, and could think of no better spot for the prized fish that has been designated the “biggest white marlin in sport fishing history in Maryland.”
“It’s the original skin mounted fish,” explained Kratz. “It’s a chance of a lifetime, it would be there forever.”
Kratz explained the difference between skin mounting and the technique used today by taxidermists.
“The skin mount, in the old days, they took the whole fish,” said Kratz.
The elaborate process involved carefully removing the skin, including scales, bill and all, preserving it, and then molding it to a hard form as close in size to the original fish as possible.
“This was the same bill and skin that John Ingram grabbed and pulled into the boat. That’s what makes this so valuable,” said Kratz.
Today, skin mounting is generally not practiced and has been replaced with the use of fiberglass molds. A picture, along with the length and girth of the fish are taken to a taxidermist and a fiberglass reproduction mount is created and painted to mirror the original fish. This is partly done in an effort to conserve fisheries.
“It took me four years to try and do something with this fish. I’m 84 years old; I’ve got to do something with it. I want to leave my legacy here,” said Kratz.
Kratz proposed donating the fish and the glass trophy case, which would be of no cost to the city. The trophy case will be designed and built by Ross Technologies, Corp. and will have a special coating to protect the marlin from the weather, sun and so forth.
Ocean City Development Corporation Executive Director Glenn Irwin and Board Development Association President Vicki Barrett weighed in on the issue.
“We really thought that the fish had such significance,” said Irwin, adding his hopes to see the city display the marlin at the south end of the Boardwalk along with other trophy catches.
Barrett suggested displaying the fish near the shark, already on display at the south end of the Boardwalk, noting that at this time, the neighbors are in agreement with that location.
Barrett noted, however, that details still needed to be worked out before she could give final approval.
“We’d like to see it very much on the Boardwalk, but at this time, not until all the details are worked out, …” Barrett said.
The council voted unanimously to approve the request and allow for Kratz to move forward with the donation with the help of both Irwin and Barrett for display options.