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The White Marlin Open: Many Boats Consider a Change in Strategy as the Final Day Approaches With No Marlin Weighed

It’s the proverbial “elephant in the room.” Or in this case “marlin in the room.” Where are all of the marlin on the scales this year?

The annual White Marlin Open is held the second full week in August for a reason. It’s the most opportune time in Ocean City to catch marlin as many anglers know. But many spectators and fans are asking, “Where are the marlin?”

Several Attempts but to No Avail

white marlin open fit it boat fishing
Fishermen from Fix It pose with a white marlin that was released during this year’s 2023 tournament. Photo Courtesy of Rich Deiker.

It’s not that there is a lack of marlin this year. It’s just that all of the marlin caught in this year’s tournament haven’t met the minimum size requirement. Measuring from the fork of the jaw to the fork of the tail, a white marlin must be 70” and a blue marlin must be 114″. As of Wednesday evening, 425 white marlin 33 blue marlin were reported caught and released.

They’re Out There

white marlin open ocmd
Angler Brian Eder with mate Sam Clark on the Desperado.

Brian Eder fished on the well-known Desperado out of Oregon Inlet, North Carolina. He and a group of 5 buddies have been fishing the open together for 5 years now. “The white marlin are out there. We went out the other morning and hooked up within the first 15 minutes.” As the anglers on Desperado hooked two marlins simultaneously, the boys went into game mode. Each guy has a designated “job,” whether it’s to reel in the other lines, or pull up the dredges. Others grab cameras and cellphones for documentation of the excitement of the moment. However Eder told me that other tournaments such as The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament out of North Carolina requires boats to video their catches as part of the rules.

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Angler Jared Albert and mate Wes Parker on a white marlin release on the Desperado.

Eder along with Captain Gray Blount, mates Sam Clark and Wes Parker, and angler Taylor Fields came up with 2 mahi, 1 tuna, 3 white marlin released and 1 blue marlin release so far this week. They had an opportunity to land two more, but the it just wasn’t in the cards at the time.

Game Plans for Friday

A white marlin nears the boat but ends up not making the length.

The anglers on Desperado planned to get together to decide on what they wanted to target on Friday. Being this late in the tournament and still no bill fish on the leader board, the anglers had a tough decision to make. Do they go after that elusive white marlin that may or may not make length or do they target tuna and try to shake up the leaderboard with a massive tuna catch?

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All In Fishing releases a white marlin in 2023.

Other boats had some similar experiences to Desperado. Captain Dave Midgett of All In Fishing commented that Monday was very slow which they then decided to switch it up a bit and try to target marlin. They went 0/1 on white marlin and released a blue. The blue marlin was between 110-112 inches, just short of qualifying length. “We were running a mixed spread for tuna, white marlin and blue marlin.” They fished all the way over in the Washington canyon like many others. Tomorrow’s plan is to stick strictly to marlin fishing and shoot for the big money.

white marlin open ocmd
The crew of Sea Devil head out on Monday for the first day of the 2023 White Marlin Open. Brad, Adam, Mike, David, Jonah

In the smaller boat category, the Sea Devil hasn’t had any bites all week long. However it’s not for a lack of trying. Their 31’ Jersey Cape chose to fish Monday and Wednesday, where they called the wind “sporty.” Their plan for tomorrow is to get out to the Washington Canyon. The team on the Sea Devil is made up of several members of the Tangier Classic, a 3 day fishing tournament open to the entire Chesapeake Bay! The 5 year old tournament is catch and photograph based where anglers load photos onto an app as opposed to bringing them to a scale. Vice president, Brad Taylor and secretary Adam Corry told us that The White Marlin Open has been a proud tournament partner of the Tangier Classic.

The Finish Line

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Fly those flags high on the way back in anglers!

Whatever the master plan is for the last chance to get on the leaderboard, the lack of marlin at the scales is definitely not due to a lack of trying. To all captains, mates, an anglers- good luck and tight lines.

Katie Ruskey
Katie Ruskeyhttp://kruskeyauthor.com
Katie Ruskey is a local author, splitting her time between Baltimore and Ocean City. Her debut fiction novel, Marlin Week, was released in August 2022 based on three captains that fish in the infamous White Marlin Open. Her first children's book, The A B Seas of Ocean City, Maryland takes young readers on a tour of OC. For more information on how to purchase her books, visit her website www.kruskeyauthor.com or follow her on IG/FB at Katherine Ruskey Author.

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