OCEAN CITY- Just about a month out, White Marlin Open officials this week announced a series of subtle changes aimed at making the 49th event even bigger and better if that is possible.
Last year, the White Marlin Open (WMO) attracted 444 boats competing for a world-record $9.2 million payout and the tournament lived up to its expectations. Last the format provided payouts including individual awards of $3.2 million, $1.9 million, $1.3 million and $1.1 million among many others.
Event organizers often say when one WMO is in the books, planning for the next one begins almost immediately. Little has changed since the 2021 event in terms of the format for the most part, although organizers have added a few wrinkles after listening to participating anglers for the 2020 tournament, set for August 8-12. While last year’s total purse was around $9.2 million, if recent trends hold up, the total purse in 2022 could exceed $10 million for the first time.
Again, there are a few new wrinkles for the 2022 event. For the first time this year, there will be no shark division. Because of new federal regulations on sharks, the category has been eliminated for 2022. Instead, a new swordfish category has been added for this year.
The swordfish category has been added to replace the shark division and is due, in part, to an increased interest in targeting swordfish. There will also be a winner-take-all added entry level for the 2022 WMO. There will also be an extra 30 minutes of fishing time each day during the tournament. Starting this year, lines and teasers can be put in the water starting at 8 a.m., a departure from the traditional 8:30 a.m. daily start time.
There will also be a new daily billfish points added entry level for smaller boats. At the request of some of the smaller boats under 40-feet, WMO organizers this year are adding a daily billfish points category to reward smaller boats for catches and releases of billfish.
Another new wrinkle this year is Marlin Fest, a satellite WMO viewing festival borne out of COVID, will return, but will be on the beach at the Inlet this year instead of the town’s park at 3rd Street. The daily weigh-ins will be live-streamed on the beach at the festival, which will also include entertainment, food and drink, and a variety of vendors.