Day 1 of the 2023 50th anniversary of the million-dollar White Marlin Open brought excitement and hope for captains, anglers, and spectators alike. Out of 400 boats registered, 378 boats braved the windy Atlantic and got ahead of the rain, lightening, and tornado warning that came in later in the evening hours. The first boat to arrive at the scales flying a flag was a tuna weighing in a 52 pounds from Phenom 37. As the evening continued, several boats made it back to the Ocean City Buoy. Unfortunately they came in empty handed. But by the end of the evening, it was reported that 92 white marlins were caught and released.
However day 1 did not disappoint the tuna category! Did you know that several species of tuna can qualify for the WMO ? Here’s the low down on what kind of tuna qualify for the White Marlin Open.
Yellow Fin Tuna
Yellow fin tuna gets their name from the brightly colored yellow dorsal and anal fins. Their bodies are a bit more slender than other tuna species. And the color of their bellies change from a yellow color to a silver. They also have a yellow stripe down the middle of their sides.
Big Eye Tuna
Like the name indicates, the big eye tuna has eyes much larger than other tuna species. The color on the top part is a darker blue and the underside and belly are white. The fins are a deep yellow color, much like the yellow fin, however the color is less bright and predominant.
The largest of the tuna species, this fish can get up to 2,000 pounds. They have a darker blue color on the top of the bodies and white underbellies. Their torpedo shaped bodies are more rounded in the middle compared to other tuna. The dorsal fin is a reddish brown color and they have short pectoral fins.
A Million Dollar Tuna
The minimum weight requirement for tuna in the tournament is 50 pounds. The largest tuna to ever be weighed in the White Marlin Open was 245.5 pounds caught on the Southern C’s out of Ocean City. By the end of the evening, 29 tuna were boated. The heaviest weighed in at a whopping 199 pounds making it worth $1 million! It was boated on the Instigator by Rob Wagner of Blue Bell, PA. In second place there’s a tuna weighting in at 118 pounds off of Bow Down from Shark River, New Jersey. The fish was boated by Angelo Ponte. And the current 3rd place tuna weighed in 64.5 pounds on Skid Row, a local boat, out of Ocean City, Maryland. And that fish was boated by Phil Houck.
We wish good luck to the 22 boats that went out and braved the winds that are reported to get up to 30 miles per hour today. Fingers crossed that the first white marlin of the 2023 White Marlin Open comes in soon!
For more information on the species of fish that come into the White Marlin Open, visit the NOAA Fishing Website.