Local Boats Capture Top Honors In MidAtlantic Tourney; State Record Blue Marlin Caught

Local Boats Capture Top Honors In MidAtlantic Tourney; State Record Blue Marlin Caught
The new state record blue marlin measured 136 inches with a girth of 80 inches and a weight of 1,135 pounds. Submitted Photos

OCEAN CITY – There are stories behind every fish caught, but not many are as remarkable as the details surrounding a new local boat – in only its second week of operation – rewriting the state’s record books.

The summer of 2021 would have been a memorable one for The Billfisher no matter how it fared in the regional fishing tournament circuit. It marks the first year the custom-made 64-foot vessel has been in the water after being constructed from scratch in West Ocean City by boat manufacturer Duffie Boatworks, which is owned by Jon Duffie, who is the captain of The Billfisher.

Last week’s MidAtlantic was only the third tournament for the new vessel, previously fishing the Ocean City Marlin Club’s Heels and Reels ladies’ tournament and the White Marlin Open earlier this month where the boat caught the third-place white marlin – a 78.5-pound beauty worth $106,216. According to Duffie, the fish was caught on just the eighth day the new Billfisher had been in the water. When last Friday’s state record-breaking and MidAtlantic winning blue marlin was caught, it was the new boat’s 14th day in the ocean. Indeed, it’s been a summer to remember for Duffie, his family and the boat’s crew.


The crew of The Billfisher is pictured with the top prize blue marlin, worth $1.16 million.

“It was our only bite of the day because we had only been fishing about 50 minutes. We started out just below the Washington Canyon, and we were off on our own and less than an hour in we had the bite,” Duffie said. “It ate the left side and it ate the right rod for us, thankfully for a fish that big. The fish jumped a half dozen times but nobody really got a good look at it on the boat except me. Everyone was like, ‘why are you so excited?’ They hadn’t seen it and I told them, ‘you guys have no idea what we have here.’ I initially thought a 700-, 800-pound blue. We fought it for three hours and 20 minutes. It was incredible. It was the hardest battle I’ve ever seen. I don’t have a lot of experience with fish that size. It’s just a rarity for this area.”

Duffie credited angler Billy Gerlach – the same fisherman who caught the third-place white marlin in the White Marlin Open — for doing a “phenomenal” job fighting the beast. He said the team on the boat worked together and masterfully throughout the long, exhausting fight.

Three days after weighing in the beauty, Duffie said Monday the excitement of the whole day still hasn’t sunk in. The blue marlin measured 136 inches (1 1/2- inches longer than the previous first-place 958 pounder caught by the Wolverine that had set a new tournament record earlier in the week) with a girth of 80 inches.

“When we took the measurements, the formula showed it being 1,080 pounds. I definitely didn’t think it would be 1,135 pounds. We were pretty blown away,” Duffie said. “Once we had the fish gaffed and dead, it took us 30 minutes just to pull it in the boat. It was a struggle and a battle unlike anything I have ever seen. It was unbelievable. I still can’t believe it.”

Due to the sheer size of the fish, Duffie said he had no choice but to head back to Sunset Marina and cut the fishing day short. He said in most cases the idea would be to continue to fish out the tournament day, but “we just had no room to work, we were full. The cockpit was full.” He said they arrived at the marina about 3 p.m. with the scales opening at 5 p.m.

Not only did the Billfisher’s catch take top honors in the tournament and a $1.16 million prize, it also broke the state record set in 2009 by Robert Farris when he caught a 1,062-pound blue marlin.

The first-place blue marlin was not the only local success story in the MidAtlantic.  Angler Pete Roskovich, owner of Adam’s Taphouse Grille of Salisbury and Black Diamond Catering and Lodge, hooked a 82-pound, first-place white marlin paying out a little over $1 million for the boat that was full of locals aboard Captain Donnie White’s Sea Wolf.


The crew of the Sea Wolf won $1 million for the heaviest white marlin caught by Salisbury restaurateur Pete Roskovich.

Captain Art Boykin’s Berlin-based Lucky Duck II finished in second place with an 80-pounder weighed on Day One and took home $162,604. Andrew Dotterweich of Jupiter, Fla aboard his Fish On finished in third place with a 75-pounder and received $680,387. For complete tourney results and payouts, see here.

On Monday, Duffie remarked how memorable the first season has been for his new boat – built by his own company in West Ocena City.

“We had only fished 14 days with the boat prior to last Friday,” Duffie said. “It’s been such an unbelievable start, especially seeing this being built first-hand by our incredible team. The whole family is involved in this, and I am so proud of everything. Fishing is really my family’s only hobby and it’s something we have done together forever. It’s such a joy to be able to share this with my family and friends.”

Parlaying the love of the water and passion for fishing inevitably led Duffie into founding his own boat building company in 2019. After constructing several smaller boats, the new Billfisher was his first big build out of his new facility off Route 611. He expressed excitement about the future of his young company, referring to current builds underway of a 70-foot vessel and 80-footer.

“I’ve always had a love and passion for boat building and how it’s done. I’ve been involving in numerous builds in North Carolina with some of the best in the business and I decided if we ever built another boat I wanted to do it ourselves,” said Duffie. “We have been very fortunate and now it’s wonderful to be working with some other customers who have taken the risk and are working with us on these new projects. It’s been a phenomenal time for all of us.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.