262 Boats Vying For $2.4M In Prize Money In White Marlin Open

OCEAN CITY — The first three days of the 40th Annual White Marlin Open produced no shortage of drama as a whirlwind couple of hours shook up the leaderboard in the signature white marlin division Wednesday, which saw a record three 77-pounders sharing the top spot before a crew on a borrowed boat rolled in with the 83-pounder late Wednesday worth an estimated $980,000 as of late yesterday.
After three days of fishing, the crew on the “Kingfisher” stood atop the leaderboard in the white marlin division with an 83-pounder weighed late on Wednesday night to take the top spot. After experiencing trouble with their own vessel, angler Tommy Jones and the crew on the “Kingfisher” switched to the “Odinspear” and the results were remarkable as the combined effort resulted in the leading 83-pound white marlin worth $980,000 as of late yesterday.
After a relatively quiet first two days, the 40th White Marlin Open exploded with drama over the period of a couple of hours late Wednesday evening when the leaderboard was erased and rewritten several times. Angler Jeremy Duffie and the crew on the “Billfisher” entered Wednesday in the top spot on the white marlin division leaderboard after weighing a 77-pounder on Tuesday.
On Wednesday evening, however, angler Debbie McCann and the crew on the “Sea Mistress” pulled into the scale at host Harbour Island and weighed a 77-pound white marlin to tie the “Billfisher” for the top spot in the glamour division. A short time later, angler Larry McKinley and the crew on the “Sea Toy” pulled in with another white marlin to weigh, and when the fish was hauled up on the scale, it registered 77 pounds, sending up a huge ovation from the stunned crowd of several thousand that had gathered at the marina.
For the first time in the tournament’s 40-year history, three white marlin were tied at the top spot. In the 2008 tournament, the crew on the “Fish Whistle” weighed an 81-pound white marlin on Monday of marlin week and it stood up all week until the crew on the “Hatterascal” rolled in late on Friday with another 81-pounder to tie the “Fish Whistle” at the 11th hour. Never before in anyone’s recollection had three fish shared the top spot on the white marlin leaderboard, even at midweek, but that was the situation late Wednesday evening as the sun started setting and the third day was coming to a close.
Before the big crowd could firmly get wrap their heads around the idea of a possible three-way tie, however, the “Kingfisher” crew showed up at Harbour Island with another big white marlin to weigh. After experiencing trouble with their own vessel, the “Kingfisher” crew transferred to the “Odinspear” and the combined effort resulted in the lead, albeit temporary, in the tournament’s top division.
When the “Kingfisher” crew’s white was raised at the scale, it registered 83 pounds, knocking the three competitors tied for the lead at 77 pounds down the leaderboard. When the dust settled after the whirlwind hour or so, Jones and the “Kingfisher” stood atop the leaderboard with the 83-pounder worth an estimated $980,000. The “Sea Mistress” and the “Sea Toy” stood tied for second with matching 77-pounders, each worth an estimated $75,000.
As of late yesterday, the blue marlin division stood wide open without a single qualifier on the board. The crew on the “Reel Direct” pulled into the scale shortly after it opened on Monday with a blue marlin that measured 103.5 inches long, or just about an inch and a half short of the required 105-inch minimum.
While much of the attention through mid-week focused on the remarkable action in the white marlin division, no less exciting was the tuna division, which changed daily, even hourly at some points, throughout mid-week. Angler Rick Stavola and the crew on the “Tarheel” set the bar high on Day One with a 226-pounder briefly worth an estimated $360,000 in prize money.
On Tuesday, however, the “Mia Jones” stole the thunder from the “Tarheel” with a pair of huge big-eyes that took over the top two spots on the leaderboard. Angler Dante Soriente and the “Mia Jones” crew weighed a 233.5-pounder to bounce the “Tarheel” from the top spot, but that fish’s time atop the leaderboard last only a few minutes when the “Mia Jones” crew produced an even larger big-eye from the cockpit. The second big-eye, a 248.5-pounder caught by angler Jeremy Gers, took over the top spot at the close of the day on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, however, angler Will McAteer and the crew on the “Maverick” arrived at the scale with a big-eye that topped out at 240.5 pounds and cozied into second place in the tuna division. At the close of the day on Wednesday, Gers and the “Mia Jones” crew stood atop the tuna leaderboard with a 248.5-pounder temporarily worth $166,000. McAteer and the “Maverick” crew stood in second with a 240.5-pounder worth $250,000 because of added entry levels, and Soriente and the “Mia Jones” sat in third with a 233.5 pounder worth $24,000. Angler John Coleman and the “Ocean Dan-Sar” crew was also on the tuna leaderboard with a 148.5-pounder worth $19,000 because of the small boat Calcutta.
The dolphin division also changed throughout the early part of the week with the current first- and second weighed on Wednesday. Angler Greg Fellers on the “Incorrigible” weighed the first qualifying dolphin, a 29.5-pounder, on Monday. On Tuesday, angler Bryan Graul on the “Krazy Salts” took the second spot on the leaderboard with a 25-pound dolphin.
On Wednesday, however, angler Jeff Collins on the “Why Knot” weighed a 34-pounder to take over first place.
Also on Wednesday, angler Bill Gerlach on the “Billfisher” jumped into second place with a 33-pounder. At the close of business on Wednesday, Collins and the “Why Not” sat in first place in the dolphin division with a 34-pounder worth $14,000, while Gerlach and the “Billfisher” were second with a 33-pounder worth $3,000. Fellers and the “Incorrigible” sat in third with the 29.5-pounder worth $12,000, while Graul and the “Krazy Salts” were fourth with the 25-pounder worth $10,000.
Just two qualifying wahoos had been weighed as of mid-week. Angler James Schenk on the “Heavy Metal” was first in the division with a 41-pounder temporarily worth $16,900. Angler Chris Cichocks and the crew on the “Out-Rea-Geous” was in second as of late yesterday with a 40-pound wahoo worth $3,000. The lone qualifying shark weighed in the tournament as of late yesterday was a 133.5-pounder weighed by angler Mike Peet on the “No Quarter,” which was worth $4,000.
A total of 262 boats are competing in the 40th Annual White Marlin Open with an estimated $2.4 million in total prize money at stake. Participating boats fish three of the five days from Monday to Friday and most had taken advantage of favorable conditions through mid-week. Two-hundred fished on Monday and 219 went out on Tuesday. Around 135 boats fished on Wednesday, which surprisingly produced the biggest results.
A total of 191 boats were out on Thursday and it was uncertain as of press time late yesterday if there were any significant changes on the leaderboard. Just 39 of the competing 262 boats had a fishing day left on Friday, which is rather unusual.