OCEAN CITY — There was no shortage of amazing stories in the 30th MidAtlantic Tournament last week, including a new state-record blue marlin, but the story of the winning first-place 82-pound white marlin caught by a local angler and crew was no less interesting.
The MidAtlantic, which played out in Ocean City and Cape May, N.J. last week already set records before the first line hit the water. A record 203 boats were signed up and a new tournament-record $5.9-million-plus in prize money was awaiting the winners in several categories and entry levels. As it turned out, the record number of entries and the record purse did not disappoint as the leaderboard filled out with big fish in every category early.
For Salisbury restaurateur Pete Roskovich of Adam’s Ribs and Black Diamond Catering and the crew on the Sea Wolf with Captain Donnie White strategically decided to sit out day one last Monday and set their sights on a big day two on Tuesday. It turned out to be a good decision. Roskovich said the 54-foot Sea Wolf lacked the horsepower and some of the technology of the bigger boats competing in the tournament, but that did not stop the crew from competing and succeeding on the tournament’s second day.
“We went out for the first time on Tuesday because we’re all superstitious about fishing on the first day,” he said. “The Sea Wolf is just a single-screw with no sonar and not a lot of technology like some of the bigger boats in the tournament. We were out there about 7:30 a.m. and lines were in the water right after the 8 a.m. By 8:11 a.m., we had our first white marlin release and another at 8:24 a.m. and I said, ‘Here we go.’”
Roskovich said the Sea Wolf had a blue marlin release at around 11 a.m., a brief fight that was complicated by a problem with the vessel’s rudder, which was quickly corrected. He said at around 12:25 p.m., the big white came calling.
“He showed up in the left dredge and we watched it before it went away,” he said. “Then, it hit the long line really far back. It fought for about 45 minutes and he was really aggressive and angry and flipping. We had seen this situation before and it didn’t end well. This time, I said, ‘Let’s change the end of this movie today.’”
Roskovich said the Sea Wolf team knew there was an 80-pound white on the board from the night before, so they measured the big white and learned it was 70 inches, which met the minimum standard for the tournament. He said the crew wasn’t sure about the weight because they didn’t leave it on the deck too long and let it start losing weight.
He said the big white was iced down well and they didn’t start heading in immediately and fished until lines out at 3:30 p.m. He said the Sea Wolf’s white marlin was 70 inches when they measured it out at sea but officially came in at 71 inches at the dock. The 80 pounder on the board from Monday night measured out at 75 inches.
“When we took it off the boat, I thought to myself this is bigger than I thought,” he said. “It had a really thick girth, all the way down to the tail.”
When the Sea Wolf’s big white was hoisted at the scale, it topped out at 82 pounds, big enough to unseat the 80-pounder that had set the bar high on Monday night. Roskovich and the Sea Wolf crew still had to wait out the tournament to see if the big white would hold. He said he isn’t particularly superstitious and watched the action unfold during the tournament for the next three days before learning the Sea Wolf’s 82-pounder would hold up for first place.
“Every day, I checked the scales and the reports,” he said. “We were a little lucky how it played out. The weather got a little sketchy at the end of the week and fewer boats were out on the tournament’s last day than normally would be.”
In the end, Roskovich and the Sea Wolf team, with Captain Donnie White at the helm and other locals on board including the M.R. Ducks crew, held on for first place in the white marlin division and took home $1,017,127 in prize money. The Lucky Duck II and Art Boykin of Berlin, which weighed the 80 pounder on Monday, held on for second in the division and earned $162,604 in prize money. The Fish On took third in the white marlin division and earned $680,387 in prize money because of added entry levels.
In the blue marlin division, it was another local boat Billfisher with Captain Jon Duffie and angler Billy Gerlach taking first with a new state record 1,135-pound beast and earning a tournament-high $1,167,762 in prize money. The Wolverine was second with a 958-pound beast of its own and earned $198,716, while the Goin In Deep finished third with a 681-pounder worth $412,237.
The tuna division was dominated by the Pipe Dreamer with a pair of big-eyes that took first- and second-place. The first-place tuna weighed 235 pounds, while the second was 227 pounds. Combined, the two big-eyes earned the Pipe Dreamer over $1 million in prize money. The Right Place finished third in the division with a 188-pounder and earned $244,566 in prize money.
In the dolphin division, it was the Amarula Sun taking first with a 45-pounder worth $98,441. The Taylor Jean was second with a 36-pounder worth $36,707, while the Picasso Moon was third with a 33-pounder worth $16,826.
In the wahoo division, it was the Just One More taking first with a 58-pounder worth $63,614. The Amarula Sun was second with a 57-pounder worth $68,614, while the Reel Moore was third with a 50-pounder worth $3,055.