NEW FOR THURSDAY: Season’s First White Marlin Sets New OC Record

OCEAN CITY — The first white marlin of the year was caught and released off the coast of Ocean City last Sunday morning, marking the earliest date ever for the annual milestone, which beat last year’s previous record by two days.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office">

Last Sunday, the Clubb family on the Chain Reaction II out of Sunset Marina in West Ocean City was fishing for tuna in about 65 fathoms, or about 400 feet of water, in an area between the Poor Man’s and Baltimore canyons, when an unexpected visitor made its presence known. Captain Brad Clubb was fishing with his two sons, mate Ross Clubb and other son, Grant Clubb, when a white marlin charged into their spread.

“It was a pretty dull morning actually and we were targeting tuna and hadn’t had much action when we came up on a big weed line,” said Brad Clubb this week. “We hooked up a nice little dolphin and were putting our lines back in the water when it came charging up into our spread. Grant grabbed the first rod, but when it jumped over to another, he had the wherewithal to grab it. He free-spooled it and set the hook, which is the most difficult part, and after a few jumps, it came in pretty easy.”

For his part, Grant Clubb, 14, seemed less impressed with catching the first white marlin of the year off the coast of Ocean City.

“It was a little on the smaller side, but it was feisty,” he said this week. “It jumped a few times and then came up to the boat.”

Brad Clubb said the “Chain Reaction II” typically has a full complement of anglers on board, but he and his sons were the only ones out on the sportfishing boat last Sunday morning.

This season’s first white marlin of the year was hooked on May 27, the earliest ever for the annual milestone. Last year, the first white marlin of the year was caught on May 29 by angler Anthony Pino on the “Marli” with Captain Mark Hoos. Last Sunday’s catch and release by the Clubbs and the Chain Reaction II came two days earlier.

While Grant Clubb and the “Chain Reaction II” landed and released the first white marlin last Sunday, there was certainly no lack of company attempting the feat. A lot of the buzz around the marinas last weekend surrounded who would catch the first white marlin and where, and who would collect the potential $10,000 in prize money.

Each year, the town of Ocean City puts up a $5,000 award for the first white marlin of the year and the Ocean City Marlin Club matches the city’s reward with $5,000 of its own if the feat is accomplished by a club member. While Clubb and the Chain Reaction II are not Marlin Club members, they will receive the $5,000 award from the city.

Last Sunday’s white marlin catch marked a couple of other firsts for the Chain Reaction II crew. After fishing out of the Indian River Marina for around 25 years, Brad Clubb moved the Chain Reaction II to Sunset Marina in West Ocean City for the first time this year and the trip last Sunday was the family’s first ever since moving to Sunset Marina.

Incidentally, the first white marlin milestone has historically occurred in a window of about five or six days from mid- to late-June over the 80 years-plus since the first white marlin was caught off the resort coast in 1936. The latest date ever recorded in the annals of the Ocean City Marlin Club was July 20, 1940.