(Aug. 15, 2014) Several white marlin were brought to the Harbour Island Marina, but after five days of fishing, only one met the White Marlin Open weight and length minimums of 70 pounds and 67 inches.
The Dream Time arrived to the 14th Street marina last Thursday evening with John Bayliss’ (Manns Harbour, N.C.) white marlin on board. As the numbers on the scale rose, WMO organizers, dock staff, spectators and especially the Dream Time crew, watched in anticipating. When it stopped at 78 pounds, everyone cheered.
At first, the marlin wouldn’t take the bait, but finally the fish went for it, Bayliss said.
“Thank God he picked it up. Came tight [and] that was that,” said Bayliss, who fought the fish for about a half hour. “We thought he was a pretty decent size fish so we were really careful about fighting him. It worked out, thank God.”
The fish was worth $1.29 million. One hundred seventy-two boats signed up for the Level E White Marlin Winner Take All added entry level calcutta, which cost $5,000 to enter. The total pot for Level E, which went to Dream Time, was $808,400.
Jim Motsko, co-director of the 41st annual WMO, said he was a little surprised only one white met all the qualifications.
“I thought it would be more than that,” he said. “It seemed like the majority were the same size, about 55-60 pounds. Seventy-eight pounds is not too shabby. I thought it would be heavier, at least 80 pounds, to win.”
Marlin conservation is emphasized every year. During the 2014 competition, 411 white marlin were released, while 12 were boated (97.16 percent). Six sailfish and one spearfish were also released.
It wasn’t until Day 4 when a blue marlin arrived to the scale that met the 105-inch, 500-pound tournament minimum.
The fish aboard Gratitude, boated by Sam Lancelotta of Ellicott City, measured 125 inches and weighed 738.5 pound.
The fish came up close to the boat and the bait was dropped back, he said. Lancelotta said it looked like the blue was going to grab the bait a few times. The third or fourth time it ended up hitting the bait, Lancelotta said, and he jumped into the fighting chair.
“It danced and danced. It was wonderful,” he said. “It was a good fight. It was a short fight.”
He battled the fish for about 35 minutes.
The team scored a $511,417 paycheck for the fish.
On the final day, Rhonda’s Osprey angler Lawrence Julio (Reisterstown) landed a 723.5-pound blue. The crew was presented a check for $105,539.
Robert Guarini of Glen Mills, Pa. took the third spot with a 564.5 pounder he caught aboard Generation last Thursday. He and his teammates were awarded $70,526.
“I think this is the first year two big blues were caught. We’ve never really had two big ones over 700 pounds,” Motsko said.
Four blues were boated and 30 were released (88.24 percent), according to www.whitemarlin-open.com.
All of the tuna on the leader board were brought to Harbour Island on Day 1. Nearly $558,000 was awarded in the tuna division.
Doug Mazzullo’s (Kent Island) 183.5-pound bigeye he caught last Monday aboard Constant Threat finished in first place. The payout for the fish was $2,000.
Because of participation in the added entry level calcuttas, the second-place tuna, Mike Kalajain’s (Indialantic, Fla.) 182 pounder he caught aboard Plane Simple, was worth $397,836.
Pez Machine anglers Greg Melara (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) and Mark Reitter (Wall Township) reeled in 180- and 178-pound tuna last Monday. They won a total of $96,094.
Robert Remo (Selbyville, Del.) landed a 170-pound tuna while fishing on Burn N Bills. The team earned a check for $62,040 (Small Boat Calcutta).
Motsko said many crews strictly fished for tuna this year.
“We had a lot more people tuna fishing then we’ve ever had,” he said. “It was the most we’ve paid out (when there were qualifying blue and white marlin).”
About $712,000 was awarded to anglers who caught the top tunas last year because there were no qualifying blue marlin. The Level F “Winner take all” pot for heaviest blue marlin–$212,910– went to the angler who landed the first place tuna in 2013.
There was a bit of a mix up in the dolphin division late in the week.
Eric Seigel (Aldic, Va.) was in the top position on the dolphin division leader board last Wednesday with the 38 pounder he caught aboard Trophy Hunter and held on to win. The fish was worth $15,656.
Bob Ambrose of Pasadena took over the second-place spot Thursday with the 34.5-pound dolphin he hooked on Evidently. The crew earned $14,156.
Classboro, N.J. resident Thomas Kerr’s 34.5 pounder landed on Day 5 earned him and his Off The Hook team $2,500.
Mitchell Hand (Cape May, N.J.) caught a 29.5-pound dolphin fishing on Judge last Tuesday and Joseph Yakim (Bel Air) landed a 25 pounder on Spring Mix II, Friday. Both fish were worth $11,656.
A total of $5,828 was awarded to Nati-Boht and Viking 62 crews for Jesse Laur’s (Mount Airy) and Lonni Rutt’s (Blue Anchor, N.J.) 21.5-pound dolphin, respectively. Both fish were hooked on Day 1.
Kenny Lord (Cambridge) reeled in a 66-pound wahoo while fishing on Iceman, last Tuesday. It was worth $33,640. A second wahoo came to the dock on Day 5. Snow Hill resident Paul Gentry nabbed a 43.5 pounder aboard Shadowfax. The team was presented with $32,640. Some of the money both crews received came from the Daily Meatfish Calcutta.
The only shark landed weighed 156 pounds. Spencer Watson (Cape Carteret, N.C.) caught the mako aboard Edge Ryder II, last Monday. The team pocketed $6,500.
Top three boats (releases):
Sea Toy: nine whites, two sailfish and one blue (945 points); Full Pull: 11 whites (770 points); Billfisher: 10 whites (700 points).
This was the second year the Sea Toy won the release division. The Sea Toy was also the top tournament boat overall.
“We’ve never had a team win two years in a row,” Motsko said.
Top three anglers:
Joseph Roberts (Love Boat), Larry McKinley (Sea Toy) and Kelli Roof (Game On). Each earned 455 points for releasing four white marlin and one blue apiece.
A total of 288 boats entered into the tournament and approximately $2.77 million was awarded to White Marlin Open winners.
Motsko said he was pleased with this year’s event, overall.
“We had more boats and more prize money. You have to call it a good tournament,” he said. “Overall, it was very good.”
Last year, 262 boats participated and $2.47 million was paid out to tournament winners.
Motsko was glad white and blue marlin qualified on Thursday because, he said, “I didn’t want everyone to say ‘nice tuna tournament.’”
“We didn’t want to see the heaviest tuna win the majority of the money,” he said. “The last two days a majority of the boats went fishing. You can’t catch fish if there’s no boats out there.”
Boats could fish three of the five tournament days. On Day 1, 263 boats headed offshore. Sixty-six went out Tuesday and 120 on Wednesday. Thursday, 145 boats fished and on Day 5, 270 went offshore.