Big White Marlin, Beast of a Blue Hanging On in WMO

OCEAN
CITY – The 35th White Marlin Open got underway in earnest this week
with a big white marlin caught on Monday setting the bar early in the signature
category and a beast of a blue marlin hauled up the scale the next day, but
with plenty of boats still out in the canyons yesterday and today, the drama is
likely far from over.

Monday
was reportedly one of the busiest days at the scale on record as most of the
300 boats participating in this year’s event rolled out to the canyons off the
coast in search of a potential million dollar-plus winning fish. Shortly after
the scales opened on Monday, angler Kenny Reed of Berlin, fishing aboard the “Liquid Asset,”
pulled in with a 68-pound white marlin briefly worth $1.3 million, to set the
tone early in the tournament.

Fame
and fortune were fleeting for Reed and the “Liquid Asset” crew, however, as the
white marlin leader board was erased and re-written several times before the
scales closed for the night on Monday. Angler Bill Scott weighed the next white
marlin, a 71.5-pounder that leapfrogged into the top spot, but when the dust
settled after a whirlwind first day, it was angler Tommy Hinkle of Berlin and
the crew aboard the “Fish Whistle” out of Indian River sitting atop the leader
board with a whopping 81-pounder temporarily worth $1.3 million.

Three
days and a lot of anxious moments later, Hinkle and the crew aboard the “Fish
Whistle” still clung to the top spot in the tournament’s glamour division as of
late yesterday, but it remains to be seen if the 81-pounder will hold up. A
little over 100 boats fished yesterday, most of which were not in port as of
press time and 200-plus boats, including the “Fish Whistle,” still have today
to fish, meaning Hinkle’s grasp on the event’s top prize is still tenuous.

Hinkle,
who moved to the Berlin area with his wife
Lisa and their two young daughters this spring after spending countless summers
in Ocean City, is no stranger to the White Marlin
Open. In fact, he proposed to Lisa at the scale in Harbour Island
six years ago on Monday of the White Marlin Open shortly after weighing a white
marlin that fell just short of the minimum requirements. Hinkle said all the
right things this week when asked to compare landing a white marlin potentially
worth $1.1 million dollars to having his future wife and mother of his children
accept his proposal six years ago.

“This
one is by far the second biggest catch I’ve ever made at the White Marlin Open,
without a doubt,” he said on Wednesday.

Hinkle
has been around the Open and fishing tournaments in general long enough to
realize there is always another great fish and another great crew out there
ready to steal his thunder and bounce him down the leader board. He appears to
be taking the pressure of hanging on to the top spot in stride, although he
hasn’t exactly been hanging around the scale or glued to a computer.

“I’m
just trying to be real humble about the whole thing,” he said this week. “I’m
not trying to see a lot of people and I don’t want to talk about it a lot
because fishermen in general are pretty superstitious. I’m just staying home
with my girls and going about my usual routine.”

Tom
Petty, not Tom Hinkle, said the waiting is the hardest part, but for the
current first-place angler said by mid-week he wasn’t overly concerned with
what was going on at the scale.

“The
waiting has been a little tough, but I firmly believe things happen for a
reason,” he said. “If it is meant to be, then it’s meant to be. The man
upstairs has a plan, and if winning this tournament isn’t part of that plan,
we’ll gladly accept it and move on.”

While
the “Fish Whistle” was clinging to the top spot in the white marlin division
late yesterday, the drama was all but over on the blue marlin division by
Tuesday when angler Robert Lockwood of Lockwood,
N.J. and the crew aboard the “Last Call”
stunned the big crowd at Harbour
Island when it unloaded a
whopping 935.5-pound blue marlin. The giant blue appeared to be as large or larger
than the cockpit of the “Last Call” and took the crew and the tournament weigh
staff to pull it out of the boat.

When
it was hoisted up the scale, during which the bill would hardly clear the dock,
it weighed in at 935.5 pounds, sending up a cheer from the hundreds of fans and
spectators in the marina. Lockwood’s big blue fell just a few pounds short of
the state record and tournament record 942-pounder caught by Dr. Jim Daniel in
1989.

Like
Hinkle and the crew aboard the “Fish Whistle,” Lockwood and the “Last Run” crew
have to wait out the rest of the week to see if the big fish will hold onto the
top spot and the payout currently estimated at $680,000. However, it would
likely take a grander to knock the “Last Run” out of the top spot and that has
never happened in the 35-year history of the event.

After
81-pounder in the top spot of the white marlin division, there were two whites
at 71.5 pounds each tied for second place in the division with an expected
payout of $80,000 each. Angler Bill Scott of Baltimore, fishing aboard the “CGI
Finance,” and angler John Conrad, fishing aboard the “D.A. Sea,” were tied for
second in the white marlin division as of late yesterday.

The
tuna division produced its share of drama all week with several changes to the
leader board. As of late yesterday, angler Dan McCarthy of the “Risky Business”
led the category with a 109-pounder currently worth $169,000. Angler John
McBride of the “Miss Andrea” was in second place with a 108-pounder worth
$65,000, while angler Shawn Cook of the “Ocean Dan-Star” was hanging on to
third place with a 106.5-pounder worth $26,000.

Topping
the other categories as of late yesterday were angler Earle Hall on the
“Bluewater” with a 44-pound dolphin worth $2,000; angler George MacLean on the
“Fin Chaser” with a 40.5-pound wahoo worth $4,500; and angler Donnie Scrivener
aboard the “Waterman” with a 110-pound shark worth $6,500.

 

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