Two 81-pound whites take top honors, one worth $756K more
It was only the second time in the 35-year history of the White Marlin Open that there was a first-place tie in the coveted white marlin division.
Monday, Aug. 4, the first fishing day of the annual tournament, Tommy Hinkle brought an 81-pound white marlin he caught aboard the Fish Whistle, to the Harbour Island Marina scale. It was large enough to have won 12 of the previous 16 tournaments. Hinkle, who recently moved from Baltimore to West Ocean City, is an assistant football coach at Stephen Decatur High School, where he will begin teaching math next month.
Hinkle had to sweat it out all week to see if his fish would hold its top spot.
On Thursday, Aug. 7, Brad Burgess of Baltimore, fishing aboard the Canyon Runner, weighed an 80.5-pound white, not heavy enough to knock Hinkle out of first place.
On the final fishing day of the Open last Friday, Roger Mooney of Timonium, Md., and the Hatterascal crew watched as the numbers on the scale fluctuated and finally rested on 81-pounds. His white marlin was tied for the No. 1 spot.
The only other time in tournament history that a tie had occurred was in 1989, when Al Bednarik and Dennis Neus both caught 69-pounders.
Hinkle and the Fish Whistle anglers received a check for $956,275, while Mooney and the Hatterascal group took home $199,575.
The lesser prize for Mooney happened because the Fish Whistle was entered in more of the added entry money Calcuttas, including the Level E, Heaviest White Marlin Winner Takes All. Hatterascal was only entered into Levels A-D for white marlin.
Burgess and his Canyon Runner boat mates won $69,465 for his 80.5-pound white.
“The winning fish were within a half-pound of each other. For it to be that close, that’s unusual,” said tournament founder and co-director Jim Motsko.
For the second consecutive year, the top three whites weighed more than 80 pounds. Last year was the first time in 30 WMOs that had happened.
Blue marlin mammoth takes the division
No one was going to touch, or even come close to the 935.5-pound blue marlin Robert Lockwood of South Amboy, N.J., hooked Tuesday, Aug. 5, while fishing on the Last Run.
The boat pulled up to the 14th Street marina with the tip of the fish’s tail hanging out the stern. It took about 15 minutes and several tries to get the big marlin off the boat and hooked to the scale.
The marlin’s length was 13 feet, 1 inch, and was the second largest blue marlin to be weighed in tournament history. It was only 6.5 pounds shy of the Open and state record, 942 pounds, which was set in 1989 by Dr. Jim Daniel. Lockwood and his fishing buddies pocketed $499,853.
“I’ve never seen a fish that big,” Motsko said. “It got a lot of excitement going. It’s unusual to catch a fish that size.”
A 534-pound blue marlin, small compared to the 935.5-pound mammoth, was brought to the dock by Ronald Marquette of York, Pa., on Friday, Aug. 8. He nabbed the marlin while aboard the local boat Press Time. The fish was worth $136,681.
Top tuna take thousands
All three of the top tuna were caught late in the week. The winning fish, a 172-pounder, was hooked Thursday, Aug. 7. Jimmy Hahn, of Secane, Pa., and the Miss Andrea anglers were awarded $181,720. Both the second- and third-place tuna came to the marina on Friday, Aug. 8. Brian Bohn of Hanover, Pa., aboard the Warrior, boated a 150.5-pounder, while Kelly Voss of Smyrna, Del., reeled in a 110-pound tuna aboard Ocean Dan-Sar. The tunas were worth $66,008 and $27,803, respectively.
Dolphin anglers gain Calcutta prizes
With the new Level M daily meat fish Calcutta added this year, more anglers received money and larger payouts in the dolphin and wahoo divisions.
“The meat fish daily Calcutta was very successful,” Motsko said. “It gave more anglers a chance to win money.”
Like the tuna, the first-, second- and third-place dolphins were also landed late in the week.
Ocean City’s Stephen Lewis scored a 67-pounder on Thursday, Aug. 8, while fishing on M.R. Ducks. The dolphin was the second largest in Open history, just 4 pounds smaller than Jeff Rice’s record set in 1986. It was only 8 ounces shy of the state record. Lewis won $12,930 for the fish.
The 57.5-pound dolphin Andrew Confortini of Colts Neck, N.J., reeled in that Friday aboard Pipe Dreamer was large enough to put him in second place. It became the fourth-largest in tournament history. The Pipe Dreamer anglers left with $11,930.
Both were awarded money for having the largest catches last Thursday and Friday, respectively, in the daily meat fish Calcutta.
Mark Christopher of Shamong, N.J., took third with his 52.5-pound dolphin. The Liquidity angler received $2,000 for the fish he nabbed on the final day of the tournament.
It was the first time in tournament history the top three dolphin, which Motsko said are the fastest growing species in the ocean, weighed more than 50 pounds.
Other money winners in the dolphin division because of the daily meat fish Calcutta were: Dave Bowman (Rio Grande, N.J.), 42.5 pounds, aboard Kokomo (Wednesday, Aug. 6); Larry McKinley (Islamorada, Fla.), 41.5 pounds, fishing on Sea Toy (Tuesday, Aug. 5); Jim Holmes (Pinehurst, N.C.), 33.5 pounds, on Sea Toy (Monday, Aug. 4). Each walked away with $8,930 in prize money.
Wahoo winners in the 40s
The No. 1 wahoo, hooked by Bob Hoste (Point Pleasant, N.J.) aboard Hatterascal last Friday weighed 47 pounds. He won $2,000. The second-place fish tipped the scale at 45 pounds. It was caught by Joe Maffei of Essington, Pa., on the Jezebel. The prize money awarded was $17,883 (includes daily meat fish/wahoo, Thursday, Aug. 7). Valerie Dunn’s (Grasonville, Md.) 44.5-pound wahoo she boated on D.A. Sea was worth $16,883 (daily meat fish/wahoo, Friday, Aug. 8).
The daily meat fish wahoo winner, Tuesday, Aug. 5, weighed 40.5 pounds, reeled in by George MacLean of Reading, Pa. (Fin Chaser). The crew was awarded $14,883. There were no qualifying wahoo brought to the scale Aug. 4 and 6, so daily meat fish Calcutta money rolled over from those days.
Sole shark nets big payoff
The only shark weighed in five days was a 110.5-pounder, boated by Donnie Scrivener of Huntingtown, Md. The Waterman angler’s shark earned him $6,500.
Judge rules the Release Classic
In the Release Classic, the Judge took first, releasing 10 white marlin for 700 points. In second was Pumpin’ Hard 58, with 630 points for releasing nine whites. With 490 release points, the Ohana Spencer 66 (five whites, a sailfish and spearfish), Victory Lap (seven whites), Viking 68 (seven whites) and Sea Wolf (five whites, a sailfish and spearfish) tied for third.
Top boats and anglers named
The top three boats in the White Marlin Open were the Judge (700 points), Shark Byte (665 points, seven white, one blue released) and Pumpin’ Hard 58 (630 points).
The top three Open anglers were Peter Cherasia (Shark Byte) with 595 points for seven releases (six white, one blue), Dwight Wolf (Sea Wolf) with six releases (five white, one spearfish) and 420 points, and Robert Lockwood (Last Run) with one white release and the 935.5-pound blue boated, for 381.83 points.
The white marlin release percentage for the tournament was 95.6 percent (349 released, 16 boated). For blue marlin, it was 88.5 percent (23 blues released, three boated). There were also 12 sailfish and three spearfish released.
Motsko said he thought the tournament went great overall, even though there were 96 fewer boats than in 2007.
“There was a lot of excitement and things went very smoothly,” he said.
A total of 300 boats were registered and more than $2.3 million in prize money was awarded to the winners. Thousands of spectators came out each day to watch the weigh-ins.