OCEAN CITY – The 36th Annual White Marlin Open, the World’s Largest Billfish Tournament, based out of Harbour Island Marina on 14th Street for the better part of the last four decades, got underway this morning with the first of five official fishing days.
This year, 297 boats will vie for millions of dollars in prize money. Anglers are fishing for white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, dolphin, wahoo and shark. Cash prizes are also awarded for billfish releases.
Named as one of Marlin Magazine’s 10 best billfish tournaments, the White Marlin Open is the best bang for your buck in the billfish tournament category. The basic entry fee is $1,050 per boat, which qualifies participants for the $50,000 guaranteed prize money. Added entry skill levels are offered at every price point, ranging from $50 to $5,000. Going all-in will cost a boat $15,500 which is substantially less than other big money tournaments. With an unlimited number of anglers allowed on each boat, entry and fuel costs can be split, reducing the overall cost to each angler.
Boats participating in the White Marlin Open may leave from one of four locations. Ocean City, Indian River, Del., Cape May, N.J., and Wachapreague, Va. are all tournament-sanctioned inlets. All boats must fish within the 100-mile limit of the Ocean City sea buoy, regardless of their departure inlet. All fish must be weighed at Harbour Island Marina.
One of the most unique aspects of the White Marlin Open is that anyone can win. Both experienced anglers and novices participate each year, and while it helps to have a great captain and crew, the fish do not discriminate. While the most coveted fish is the winning white marlin, large cash payouts are also made in the blue marlin and tuna categories.
The White Marlin Open is not only a great sportsfishing event, but is a great spectator event as well. Each year, thousands of fishing enthusiasts, families and curiosity seekers pack Harbour Island Marina to watch the nightly weigh-ins, hoping to catch a glimpse of the “million dollar marlin.” Food, beverages, jewelry and official White Marlin Open gear give the weigh-ins a festival-like atmosphere that people of all ages enjoy. Weigh-ins take place nightly, starting Monday, Aug. 3 through Friday, Aug. 7, from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. Admission is free.
The Dispatch will be updating its website all week with daily recaps of the annual tournament.