White Marlin Open Off To Quiet Start At The Scales; Final Two Days Likely To Shake Up Leaderboard

White Marlin Open Off To Quiet Start At The Scales; Final Two Days Likely To Shake Up Leaderboard
Boats are shown returning from the offshore canyons on Monday, the first day of the 41st Annual White Marlin Open. Photo by Howard Whaley/Rally Rides

OCEAN CITY — While there were more fishing days left than not heading into the last two days of the White Marlin Open on Thursday, the 2014 event will likely be remembered for what didn’t happen that what did, at least early on.

Going into Thursday’s penultimate fishing day in the 2014 Open, there were no qualifying white marlin or blue marlin on the leaderboard. The leaderboard in the tuna category had filled in after three somewhat uncharacteristically slow days, along with qualifiers in every other category including dolphin, wahoo and shark, but at least from a fishing standpoint, the first three days of the 2014 White Marlin Open were historically quiet.

Things can, and likely will, change dramatically over the tournament’s last two days. With 288 boats participating, which is up 9 percent over last year, there are 864 total fishing days. Each of the participating boats fishes three of the five days. Going into Thursday, there were 510 fishing days left, almost all of the participating boats had at least one day left and many had two.

The estimated total payout for the 2014 White Marlin Open comes in at around $2.7 million and much of that was still up for grabs with just two days remaining. At the close of the scale on Wednesday, the largest estimated payout on the board was $400,000 for the current second place tuna, a 182-pounder caught by angler Mike Kalajan on the “Plane Simple” on Monday.

However, that will likely all change during what should be an epic last two days of fishing. History shows the winning white marlin and often blue marlin have been caught on the tournament’s final two days and most of the participating boats fished on Monday and saved their remaining two days for the end of the week.

Of course, it could just be one of those years for the White Marlin Open and the top spots in the glamour white marlin and blue marlin categories might not fill in. There was a three-year run from 1984 to 1986 when no qualifying white marlin were brought to the scale.

There have been a few white marlin and blue marlin brought to the scale at host Harbour Island Marina this week, but none of met the minimum size requirements. The very first fish weighed when the scale opened on Monday was a 454-pound blue marlin that fell short. There were also a few white marlin weighed that fell short of the tournament’s 70 pound minimum.

There is no rhyme or reason for the day of the winning white marlin and even blue marlin. Over the years, the winning white has been weighed on the very first day and the angler and boat crew has had to sweat out the entire week to see if there potential million dollar-plus fish will stand up to the challenge. In other years, the winning white has been caught on the tournament’s last day, sometimes even at the very last hour.

Just last year, the tournament started slow with none of the fish on the final leaderboard caught on Monday. On Tuesday last year, the fourth place dolphin and the fourth-place wahoo were caught. It wasn’t until Wednesday last year when the leaderboard started to fill in. Three of the top four white marlin were caught on Wednesday of Marlin Week last year including the eventual winner, the 83-pounder caught by the Kingfisher/Odinspear crew.

Also caught on Wednesday last year were a pair of 77-pounders that ultimately shared second place with another 77-pounder caught on Thursday. On Thursday last year, the third-place white marlin, the second-place tuna and the first-place shark were caught. Friday last year produced the second- and third-place tuna, the second-place dolphin and the second-place wahoo.

In 2012, the winning white marlin was caught on Wednesday of Marlin Week and no blue marlin qualified. In 2011, the winning white marlin was caught on Friday and the winning blue marlin was caught on Thursday. In 2010, four of the top white marlin, including the eventual winner, were caught on Tuesday. The winning white marlin in 2009 was caught on Tuesday.

Nonetheless, while there has been little or no drama in the glamour divisions heading into Thursday, there has been no shortage of action in the other categories. Going into Thursday, the top five spots in the tuna division had filled out on Monday. Angler Doug Mazzullo on the “Constant Threat” held the top spot in the tuna division with a 183.5-pounder worth $2,000 going into Thursday. Kalajan and the “Plane Simple” crew held second place in the tuna division with a 182-pounder worth $400,000 because of added entry levels.

It’s worth noting if no qualifying white or blue marlin are weighed on the tournament’s last two days, the purses in those divisions fall to the leader in the tuna division. The crew on the “Pez Machine” held second and third place in the tuna division heading into Thursday with a 180-pounder and a 178-pounder. The “Burn N Bills” held fifth place in the tuna division going into Thursday with a 170-pounder.

In the dolphin division, angler Eric Seigel on the “Trophy Hunter” held the top spot with a 38-pounder weighed on Wednesday. The “Judge” sat in second with a 29.5-pounder, the “Dream Time” was in third with a 26.5-pounder, the “Viking 62” was in fourth with a 21.5-pounder and the “Nati-Boht” was tied for fourth with a 21.5-pounder.

There was just one qualifying wahoo on the board after the tournament’s first three days, a 66-pounder weighed by angler Kenny Lord on the “Iceman.” Likewise, there was only one qualifying shark on the board going into Thursday, a 156-pound mako weighed by angler Spencer Watson on the “Edge Rider II.”