(Aug. 1, 2014) Monday, Aug. 4, is the first day of the 41st annual White Marlin Open, one of the largest billfish tournaments in the world. Fishing will continue through Friday, Aug. 8.
Each year, a couple thousand anglers participate in the fishing event, 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 approximately 65 percent of the boats return annually to compete, according to Jim Motsko, co-director and founder of the tournament. About half of the time they are with new crews.
Last year, more than 2,000 anglers on 262 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 $2.47 million.
Motsko said organizers are anticipating an increase in participation this year and an estimated payout of more than $2.5 million.
“We’re hoping for more boats than last year and I think we’ll be able to do that,” said Motsko, who noted that pre-registration is slightly up compared to 2013. “I’d like to hit 300 boats, or more, but I’ll take a couple more than last year. The last two years entrance has gone up.”
Most anglers wait until the final days to register so they can keep an eye on the forecast.
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. Approximately 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. Daily activity and updates will also be posted. For more information, visit www.whitemarlinopen.com or call 410-289-9229.
White Marlin Open by numbers:
57: Number of boats that participated in the first WMO in 1974
262: Number of boats entered in 40th annual WMO in 2013
$15,000: Amount of money awarded to Vince Sorenson of New Jersey during the first WMO for his 68.5-pound white marlin
$1.2 million: Amount awarded last year to Tommy Jones of Severna Park, Md. for reeling in an 83-pound white marlin aboard OdinSpear.
3: Boats tied for second place with 77-pound white marlin in 2013. First time in WMO history. Each received $102,498.13.
$2.47 million: Prize money payout to 2013 WMO winners
$1,250: Cost of base entry fee (This fee makes boats eligible for $50,000 in prize money)
$15,950: Amount (not including base entry fee) to enter into all 16 added entry levels/calcuttas (boats 37 feet in length and larger), $17,950 for boats 36 feet (length overall and under) to enter into all 18 added entry levels/calcuttas.
99 pounds: Tournament record for a white marlin (1980)
95.43 percent: White marlin release rate in the 2013 WMO *376 released, 18 boated
97.67 percent: Blue marlin release rate in the 2013 WMO *42 released, 1 boated