OCEAN CITY — Rough seas offshore and strong storms inshore have essentially turned the 44th Annual White Marlin Open into what will become a three-day shootout with a wide open leaderboard and over $4 million in prize money at stake.
Just 136 of the registered 353 boats fished on Monday, the tournament’s first day, and netted scattered results with a decent tuna and wahoo on the board but no billfish. On Tuesday, the weather improved on shore, but the seas were expected to be even worse than Monday, resulting in just 12 boats trying their luck on day two.
With each of the 353 registered boats choosing to fish three of the five days, that equals 1,059 total “boat days.” However, through the first two days, just 148 boat days have been expended, leaving over 900 over the tournament’s last three days.
On Monday, most of the 136 boats that made a go of it enjoyed a decent ride out to the canyons, but conditions deteriorated rapidly during the day. The seas were running two- to three-feet around 8:30 a.m. on Monday when lines could officially dropped, but about an hour later, the winds picked up to 15-20 knots and the seas rose to five feet and building, according to WMO officials. Later in the day when most of the 136 boats were heading in, the winds had picked up to 40 knots with higher gusts and the seas worsened to 12 to 15 feet.
Despite the conditions and the low number of registered boats fishing on day one, there was some considerable activity on the leaderboard although that will almost certainly change with so many boat-days left over the last three days. Angler Jim Stavola on the Milling Around weighed a 64-pound tuna currently worth $460,000. Angler Tommy Parlacoski on the Slabjack weighed a 57-pound tuna currently in second place in the division currently worth $76,000. Jason Walker on the Tale Chaser weighed a 55.5-pound tuna for third place in the division currently worth $30,000. The only other significant action at the scale on day one was a nice 55-pound wahoo caught by angler Gary Capuano currently worth $15,000.