OCEAN CITY – The offshore fishing season in Ocean City has been well underway for several weeks now with sharks of all shapes and sizes being caught in early tournaments and tuna and dolphin starting to show up in decent numbers in the canyons off the coast, but the missing piece of the puzzle until last weekend was the appearance of the first white marlin of the year.
Angler Kevin Haile of Pittsville, fishing aboard the “Catfish” with Captain Doug Simm, caught and released the first white marlin of the season in the White Marlin Capital of the World last Saturday. The marlin hit an artificial lure on a spreader bar in 100 fathoms of water at the north end of the Baltimore Canyon last Saturday, June 16.
Remarkably, the first white marlin of the season came on a double-header and beat the second white marlin of the season by just a few minutes. While Haile was fighting his white marlin, a second white marlin came up in the spread and was caught by another angler on the “Catfish,” Brian Eddy of Laurel, Del.
Both white marlins were caught and released. While Eddy’s white marlin was caught on the same spread of baits just minutes after the white marlin hooked by Haile, it will be Haile that collects the $5,000 prize from the town of Ocean City for catching the first white marlin of the year. Haile will receive his check during the Ocean City Marlin Club’s annual awards banquet this fall.
While the rare double-header, particularly this early in the season, provided a new twist to the annual first white marlin of the year catch, there was nothing particularly remarkable about the June 16 date of the catch this year.
According to the Ocean City Marlin Club records dating back the first-ever white marlin catch off the coast of the resort, the earliest ever was caught on June 1, 2002 while the latest happened on July 20 way back in 1940. Mid-June is historically when the first white marlin of the season is caught and this year’s date fell right in the middle of the most prevalent time. For example, the first white marlin of the year last season was caught on June 17, just one day later than Haile’s first white marlin this year.
The date typically falls within a window of about five or six days in mid- to late June each year when the milestone has been reached most frequently in the 70 years since the first white marlin was caught off the coast of the resort in 1936. The earliest ever came on June 1, 2002 when angler Michael Runk, fishing aboard the “Enticer” hooked up the first white marlin of the season that year. The latest date recorded in the annals of the Ocean City Marlin Club was July 20, 1940.