State Record White Marlin Finds Permanent Home

OCEAN CITY- The largest
white marlin in Maryland sport fishing history, caught by a group of local
anglers nearly three decades ago, has found a permanent home at the foot of the
Boardwalk where it will be enjoyed by current and future generations of
offshore fishing enthusiasts.

The 135-pound white
marlin caught by angler George Pierson while fishing aboard the “Five C’s” with
Captain Charlie Kratz and his mates on Aug. 29, 1980 remains the largest
recorded catch of a white marlin in Ocean
City or Maryland history. It was caught on the last
day of the Ocean City Marlin Club’s annual Labor Day White Marlin Tournament,
which celebrated its 50th this month.

Thanks to the generous
donation of Kratz, who, at 84, remains active in the Marlin Club and still
fishes offshore whenever he gets the opportunity, the actual “skin mount” of
the record setting white marlin will be on permanent display in a special case
at the end of the Boardwalk near the Ocean City Lifesaving Museum, not far from
the display of the largest shark ever caught in the waters off the coast of the
resort, the 1,210-pound tiger shark landed by angler Grace Czerniak in 1983.

The display case
containing the record white marlin was erected last weekend and will be
unveiled to the public during a special ceremony planned for Monday at noon.
Kratz donated the mount of the record white marlin and another Ocean City
fishing captain, Don Speicher, donated the display case. Town Public Works
officials, including Dick Malone, worked for several hours last weekend
erecting the display case including the record fish, although it remains
covered until the official unveiling on Monday.

A little over 28 years
later, Kratz this week retold the story of the epic day in 1980 when the
102-inch long, 135-pound white marlin was caught by Pierson and his friends and
rewrote record book. The “Five C’s” with boat owner Kratz at the helm was
fishing in the Marlin Club’s annual Labor Day White Marlin Tournament, but
hadn’t seen much action on the event’s last day. Pierson was the angler due up
in the rotation if the “Five C’s” hooked up, but it got to be about 2:20 p.m.
and the lines had to be out of the water at 3 p.m.

“I remember it was the
last day of the tournament,” he said. “We heard over the radio they were
catching white marlin, but we hadn’t seen much that day, so George says we got
to pack up and start heading in. Well, I wasn’t quite finished yet and when I
heard over the radio they were hooking them up in the Poorman’s, I said let’s
move up there and take a look.”

Kratz and the “Five C’s”
crew, including long-time friends Pierson and mates John Ingram and Dick
O’Neil, pulled in their gear and headed to the Poorman’s Canyon for one last
look. They were soon rewarded for the effort.

“As soon as we started
fishing again, this big white comes up,” he said. “We weren’t sure what we had
at the time, but when I got a look at him, I knew we had something special.
Now, it was getting close to 3 o’clock when we had to get the lines out of the
water for the tournament, so I called in to the committee boat a couple of
minutes before three and told them we had a big one hooked up.”

Kratz said it didn’t
take long for Pierson to get the big white marlin to the boat, but one of the
most interesting aspects of the remarkable catch was how the big fish was
finally boated.

“John [Ingram] was the
mate and it was his responsibility to boat the fish, but he didn’t gaff him,”
he said. “He just reached over the side and grabbed him by the bill and yanked
him right into the boat.”

The fish weighed 135
pounds and set the Maryland
state record for a white marlin, a record that stands today. Kratz explained
the fish he donated to the town for permanent display on the Boardwalk is a
“skin mount,” reflecting a practice of a bygone era in taxidermy. These days,
most taxidermists make fiberglass replicas of fish to be mounted from a
photograph and precise length and girth measurements

In the past,
taxidermists would save the skin of the fish, the bill, and basically the
entire exterior of the fish and cure it to preserve it, then shape it onto a
fiberglass mold matching the specifications as close as possible.

The record white marlin mount Kratz
donated to the city for permanent display is a traditional “skin mount,”
although the captain and his crew from that day also have fiberglass replicas.

“George took the
original, but there a handful of replicas around,” said Kratz. “One went to the
aquarium in Baltimore, one went to the Lifesaving Museum, John has one and I have two,
including one that hangs in my office.

Kratz said the original
came back to him when Pierson died and he immediately knew he wanted to donate
it to the city for a permanent display because of its historic value in the
White Marlin Capital of the World.

“When George died, his
wife called me and asked if I wanted it,” he said. “’Of course I do,’ I told
her, and now I’m donating it to the city. They talked about putting it in City
Hall or somewhere in the Convention Center, but I wanted it displayed somewhere
everybody could see it. To me, it’s a part of our history, a part of our
legacy, and it will be down there on the Boardwalk for generations to see.”