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Annual White Marlin Open kicks off Monday, runs through Fri.

(Aug. 2, 2013) Monday, Aug. 5, is the first day of the 40th annual White Marlin Open, one of the largest billfish tournaments in the world. Fishing will continue through Friday, Aug. 9.

Each year, hundreds of anglers participate in the fishing event, which has been named as one of Marlin Magazine’s 10 best billfish tournaments. The White Marlin Open has also been voted by readers of “In The Bite” magazine as the competition in which they would most like to participate.

The tournament is so popular that more than 65 percent of the boats return annually to compete, according to Jim Motsko, director and founder of the tournament. Some new boats have registered to participate this year.

Last year, more than 2,000 anglers on 253 boats headed offshore in search of white and blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, shark and dolphin. While the white marlin division is the most coveted, there are also large payouts in the blue marlin and tuna categories.

Overall prize money paid out to the winners last year was approximately $2.3 million.

Motsko said organizers are anticipating an increase in participation this year and an estimated payout of more than $2 million.

“I think we’ll see more fishermen this year. I think people’s attitudes are better about the economy and I think people have a little bit more money to spend,” Motsko said.

Compared to 2012, early registration was up by about five or six boats as of Monday, Motsko said. Most anglers wait until the final days to register so they can keep and eye of the forecast.

“Our goal is to hit 300 boats” he said.

Weigh-ins for the Open will take place each of the five fishing days, from 4-9:15 p.m., at Harbour Island Marina on 14th Street. Between 4,000 and 5,000 spectators of all ages — from small children to experienced anglers and mates — converge on the marina, hoping to catch a glimpse of the day’s catches. Spectators find the experience exciting because most of them have never seen such big fish before, Motsko said.

Spectators should arrive early to get a good view of the action at the scale. There is no cost to watch the weigh-ins and it is open to the public.

Food, beverages, jewelry and official White Marlin Open apparel will be sold during the weigh-ins at Harbour Island.

For those who can’t make it to 14th Street, live streaming video from the scale will be featured on www.whitemarlinopen.com again this year. Daily activity and updates will also be posted. For more information, visit to www.whitemarlinopen.com or call 410-289-9229.

The Blew Bayou docked on the third day of the 39th annual White Marlin Open last year, to weigh a white marlin. William Woody’s (Pasadena, Md./Ocean City) white weighed 72 pounds and was worth $1,429,092–the third-largest payout in tournament history.

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