First White Marlin Caught

First White Marlin Caught
The crew on the Wrecker caught and released the first white marlin of the 2022 season. Submitted photo.

OCEAN CITY— The first official white marlin of the 2022 season was caught and released on Tuesday and will earn a combined $17,000 in combined prize money.

The crew on the Wrecker with Captain Bobby Layton at the helm caught and released the first white marlin of the season early Tuesday, a milestone watched closely in the White Marlin Capital of the World. The Wrecker was fishing in the Baltimore Canyon when the white marlin came up in the spread and took a skirted ballyhoo.

Angler Kevin Gibbs, whose family owns and operates the Dough Roller restaurant chain and who is also the current president of the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) was on the rod and the big white was caught and released quickly. The Wrecker will earn a combined $17,000 in prize money for reaching the milestone.

Each year, the Mayor and Council offers a $5,000 prize for the captain and crew that catches and releases the first official white marlin of the summer season. A few years back during budget deliberations, the town briefly considered eliminating the annual $5,000 prize, but quickly reinstated when after some outcry from the local fishing community.

In addition, the Wrecker will receive another $5,000 prize from the Ocean City Marlin Club for catching the first white marlin of the season for being a club member. Finally, the Wrecker crew will receive a $7,000 prize package from Fisherman’s United, bringing its total purse to around $17,000.

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During that brief time when the town considered pulling the annual prize, a coalition of local businesses including Atlantic Tackle, Sunset Marina, the Ocean City Fishing Center, the Bank of Ocean City, Bahia Marina, Coastal Fisherman and Hooked on OC, ponied up its own $7,000 prize package for the first white marlin of the season.

Historically, there was nothing significant about the date for the first white marlin of the season on Tuesday. Typically, the first white of the season is caught and released in a window of around five to six days in mid- to late June, and Tuesday’s June 7 date was right in that window.

Last year, the first white marlin of the season was caught and released on May 23, the earliest date ever recorded since records have been kept by the Ocean City Marlin Club. The latest ever, since records have been kept for 80-plus years since the first white marlin was caught off the coast of Ocean City in 1936 was July 20.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.