OCEAN CITY – Ed Joy, a resident of Chevy Chase, Md., is no stranger to the White Marlin Open.
Each year since the its creation, he has participated in what is widely considered the largest and richest billfish tournament in the world.
To boot, he is 93 years old.
But Joy said he doesn’t let that stop him from returning to Ocean City each year to take part in the action offshore.
“As long as I’m able and breathing, and I don’t cause too much of a headache, I’m going to keep on doing it,” he said.
At the urging of angler and friend Bob Herder, Joy said he entered the first White Marlin Open, held in 1974.
“He had a boat here and invited me to fish with him,” he said. “That’s how I got started.”
Each year since, Joy has returned to the tournament for a chance to compete against both skilled and novice anglers.
“I think the competition is what it’s all about,” he said. “I think it makes us sharper and makes everyone better.”
Joy said he remembers the early days of the White Marlin Open. In its first year, the tournament drew 57 boats, 150 anglers and paid $20,000 in prize money with the top award of $5,000.
“I believe it cost about $500 or $600 and the prizes were a lot smaller,” he said. “I think I won largest dolphin way back in the day and I got a Shimano Reel, probably worth $75. But I will say the tournament has kept up with the times.”
Joy recognized the Motsko family for their efforts to improve the White Marlin Open each year.
“The tournament is so great for Ocean City and it’s been handled so well,” he said. “I’m very proud of Jimmy Motsko for the job he has done to bring the largest billfish tournament to Ocean City.”
This year, Joy, along with his crew and fellow anglers on the boat Streaker, fished on Monday and Tuesday and plan to fish Friday of the tournament. But he said he never enters all the calcuttas.
“We enter the basic ones and the ones we know we can compete in,” he said. “We are basically not tuna fishermen … We are always interested in white marlin. It’s number one.”
Participating in the White Marlin Open, however, does not come cheap.
“I don’t think people realize how expensive it has become in terms of dollars and cents …,” he said. “We have a budget that’s between $22,500 and $23,000, which includes the cost of fuel, food and bait. If someone told me back in the day it would cost that much, I would have said you were crazy.”
Regardless, Joy said he is eager to take part in the tournament each year. In 2013, Streaker took the top prize for heaviest wahoo, and it 2015 it took the top prize for largest dolphin.
“In order to do something like this you have to love the competition,” he said.
Joy said he didn’t even let a broken thumb stop him from attending this year’s event. He said doctors fashioned his cast to accommodate his fishing rod.
“I’m doing just fine,” he added.
Joy, a Dover native, said he fell in love with fishing at a young age.
“I started surf fishing at the Indian River Inlet at the age of five,” he said. “I think it drove my family crazy.”
Joy said he has been fishing out of Ocean City since the 1950s. And in 1960, he joined the Ocean City Light Tackle Club.
In addition to the White Marlin Open, Joy said he has participated in several other national and international tournaments, including ones in Australia and Canada. His interest in fishing has also taken him on trips to South and Central America and Africa.
“I have been blessed and I tell people I have caught every billfish in both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean,” he said. “I have always been after the billfish.”
Joy and his fellow anglers fished this week on the boat Streaker, which he co-owns with John Simmonds.
“He’s a legend,” Simmonds said. “I can’t tell you how many people have asked me to introduce them to Ed.”
Joy added he is also fortunate to have Doug Rollins as his captain.
“He’s got to find the fish for you before you can catch them,” he said. “So we are really lucky to have him.”
But after decades of experience fishing in the White Marlin Open, Joy said he has learned one thing from the tournament.
“You have to be lucky,” he said.