(Aug. 1, 2014) Thousands of fishing enthusiasts and spectators are expected to stop by Harbour Island Marina on 14th Street for the daily weigh-ins of the 41st annual White Marlin Open, scheduled Aug. 4-8.
The crowd of spectators gathering for the weigh-ins, held from 4-9:15 p.m. daily, has grown since the tournament’s inception, according to Jim Motsko, founder of the White Marlin Open, as several thousand visitors pack into the area surrounding the bayside marina’s docks to get a front-row view of the fish as they are brought to the scale.
Motsko suggests spectators arrive early to get a clear view of the action at the scale. Some people show up hours before to secure their place in front of the scale, while the rest of the diehard fish enthusiasts are there by 4 p.m., when the weigh-ins begin.
“There’s tons of excitement,” Motsko said. “Most people have never seen fish that big before.”
If the weather is ideal, Motsko expects a large number of boats to go out fishing on Monday, Day 1 of the competition.
There is no cost to attend the weigh-ins, but visitors are reminded parking is prohibited at Harbour Island. Parking is available on side streets, or for a small donation, in the Presbyterian Church lot on 14th Street. There will also be an express shuttle service offered from the Ocean City convention center on 40th Street to the corner of 14th Street and Jacqueline Avenue. The shuttle will run about every 20 minutes from 3-11 p.m.
Parking is free at the convention center. Spectators may take the Ocean City bus to the scale as well. Both the shuttle and bus cost $3 for a ride-all-day pass.
Motsko estimates about 5,000 people or more, depending on the weather, come and go from the Harbour Island dock area each day to watch the weigh-ins, but the excitement begins even before anglers put their lines in the water.
Hundreds of spectators wake up early, especially on Day 1, to catch the fleet of boats leaving each morning from the Ocean City inlet. Watching the boats depart for the fishing spots has become increasingly popular, as people line up along the jetty bright and early just to catch a glimpse. Boats may leave as early as 4 a.m. this year.
“Every year it keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Motsko said.
The most activity through the inlet, Motsko said, is between 5 and 6:30 a.m., depending on where the fish are and how far captains plan to travel offshore.
Another spot to see the vessels head out for the day is downtown at Sunset Park on South Division Street or the bayside boardwalk near Third Street.
Live streaming video of the weigh-ins will be available online again this year at www.whitemarlinopen.com. Daily activity and updates will also be posted.