50th White Marlin Open Closes With A $6.2 Million Bill - The Fisherman

50th White Marlin Open Closes With A $6.2 Million Bill

Of the 605 billfish caught during the five-day White Marlin Open in August, 602 were released by a field of 400 registered boats.  With over $7 million of the total $10.5 million purse reserved for billfish, it was remarkable that not one boat brought a non-contender to the scale before the closing day on the Friday of the event.

For the first four fishing days, tuna ruled the scales and the prize money.  That changed on the final day when the Floor Real out of Ocean City, MD made the 6 p.m. bridge and headed for the Harbour Island scales with a fish they knew would qualify.  It was the third billfish brought to the scales Friday.  The first was the Skirt Chaser out of Manteo, NC with a 67.5-pound white marlin that made the 70-inch minimum needed to weigh, but just missed the 70-pound minimum to qualify.  The No Limit out of Indian River, DE brought in a blue marlin that possibly lost a bit of length in the hours after being boated and missed the 114-inch minimum length by 2 inches and was not weighed.

The blue marlin from the Floor Real left no doubt when it was measured at 118 inches in the boat before electrifying the crowd while tipping the scales at 640.5 pounds.  Caught by John Ols from Laytonsville, MD, it proved to be the only qualifying billfish and won most of the money reserved for both white and blue marlin.  The $6.2 million awarded sets a new world record for the catch of a fish.

The crew of Floor Reel collects a record White Marlin Open check of $6,235,436. Photo courtesy of WMO.

The heaviest tuna of the event was a 265-pound bigeye caught off the Reel Tight out of Ocean City, MD by Brian Stewart from Shady Side, MD, who won $1,019,441.  The 247.5-pound bigeye caught by Chris Mentlik from Street, MD off the Fishlik out of Chincoteague, VA took second place and $366,662.  The Game Over out of Ocean City, MD took third and earned John Zimmerman from Boynton Beach, FL $169,929.

All spots in the wahoo division were covered with Shooting Star out of Indian River, DE taking first place and $4,700 with a 57-pounder caught by John Harris from Boyertown, PA.  Captain Deadly out of OC MD took second and $31,065 for angler Chad Jackson from Ft. Myers, FL.  The third-place wahoo was caught by Matthew Gessler from Chads Ford, PA of the Boy’s Toy out of Indian River DE.  His 46-pounder took $29,065.

The dolphin division was won by the Roncito out of Ocean City, MD. The 32-pounder won $32,065 for angler Andrew Spangenberger from New Freedom, PA.  The Aquila from Beach Haven, NJ weighed a 31-pound dolphin caught by Timothy Goodman from Palm Beach, FL taking second place and $82,520.00. In third with a 31-pound dolphin was OC’s Maverick winning $30,065 for Will McAteer from Kent Island MD.

The most prestigious categories are for billfish releases.  The top Anglers were Brian Demile off the Trash Man with 770 points followed by Bernard Linney off the High Yield with 700 points.  Dave McKendrick fishing on the Taylor Jean took third with 665 points. Top female angler was Holly McAlhany on Sweet Spot with 560 points, second place female angler was Kelly Weber on Max Bet with 420 points and the third place female angler was Jaclyn Tenuto on Sequel with 350 points.

Next year’s White Marlin Open is slated for August 5-9, 2024 with millions on the line again.  A list of all money winners for 2023 (total purse of $10,509,679) is listed below by boat.

Floor Reel                   $6,235,436

Ro Sham Bo               $1,782,403

Reel Tight                   $1,019,440

Fishlik                             $366,661

Game Over                    $169,928

Instigator                        $152,635

Reel OpporTunaTy          $88,406

Aquila                               $82,520

No Limit                            $69,153

Max Bet                            $60,965

Fin Planner                      $58,740

Bow Down                       $47,704

Skid Row                          $47,704

Trash Man                        $44,945

Full Service                      $35,778

Prime Hook                      $32,336

Roncito                             $32,065

Capt Deadly                     $31,065

Maverick                          $30,065

Boy’s Toy                         $29,065

Taylor Jean                      $28,925

Hey Buddy                       $25,365

Sea Fix                             $25,365

Covered Up                     $8,306

Shooting Star                   $4,700