OCEAN CITY – The first day of fall was the ironic backdrop for the unveiling of a new Boardwalk landmark that will be seen by thousands of summer visitors for years to come.
Dozens of onlookers gathered at the foot of the Boardwalk on Monday to officially dedicate a “skin mount” of the largest white marlin ever to be caught in the state of Maryland. The 135-pound fish was caught in 1980 by angler George Pierson while fishing aboard the “Five C’s” with Captain Charlie Kratz at the helm.
The exhibit, located just a stone’s throw from the display of the record 1,210-pound tiger shark and the Ocean City Lifesaving Station Museum, “will highlight to all who see it the importance of salt water fishing to the Ocean City area”, according to State Senator John Astle, who also serves on the Chesapeake Bay Trust board.
Mayor Rick Meehan called it a “historic occasion” for the Ocean City fishing community and called Kratz’s gift “an extremely generous donation to display for thousands and thousands of Ocean City visitors to see and admire for years to come.”
The 84-year-old Kratz was the skipper of the boat that brought in the record fish 28 years ago on the last day of the Marlin Club’s annual Labor Day White Marlin Tournament. Kratz was heralded as an “influential and positive force in the Ocean City fishing community” and praised for his love of the sport by a number of speakers Monday.
Bill Regan, president of the Marlin Club, said the exhibit was also a noteworthy addition as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the club’s annual tourney. “Ocean City was named the white marlin capital of the world in 1957, and since then there have been over 50,000 white marlin caught in these waters, and this is the biggest one ever caught,” Regan said. “This one-in-50,000 fish will remind generations why Ocean City is called the white marlin capital of the world.”
At 135 pounds, the fish is a giant compared to the million-dollar winning 81-pound, top-prize winner in this year’s White Marlin Open.
Kratz however, called the fish “unique.” Not only for it’s size, but also because it is a “true skin mount”, which is an old taxidermy technique that uses the actual exterior of the fish, including the skin and the bill, and shapes it onto a fiberglass molding. Most taxidermists today make fiberglass replicas of fish using photographs and precise measurements.
Vicki Barrett, president of the Boardwalk Development Association, called the exhibit a “great treasure that will join the shark and the Lifesaving Museum as one of the Boardwalk’s growing number of treasures.”