The 42nd Annual White Marlin Open drew 308 boats from up and down the East Coast to fish for a record purse of nearly $4,000,000. After a dramatic week, the anglers landing the top two white marlins had each earned over $1,000,000 for their teams.
The top fish of the tournament was the 94-pound white marlin caught by Cheryl McLeskey from Virginia Beach, VA. McLeskey’s white was notable for several reasons: it was the 3rd largest white marlin caught in the tournament’s 42-year history and it’s the first time a woman has taken top white marlin honors. The fish earned McLeskey and the Backlash, also out of Virginia Beach, VA, $1,176,113.
Each day of the Open brings plenty of chances to win, right up to the final minutes. That was the case last year for the Lights Out, visiting from Ocean Reef, FL. The boat made the 6 o’clock bridge on Friday and cruised to the Harbour Island scales with a 79-pound white marlin caught by Bill Haugland from Coral Gables, FL. Haugland took 2nd place and was awarded $1,006,247.
The Open offers flexible schedules – you only need to fish one of the three fishing days to be eligible for prizes – and allows for anglers with smaller budgets as well as those with deeper pockets. There is no limit on boat size. Anglers can choose their fishing days and enter the level that best matches their skills.
Not an experienced angler? Not to worry. The Open offers opportunities for anglers of all levels of experience to enter and win! For example, in 2003, Doug Remsberg took home $1.3 million for the 78.5-lb. billfish he caught – his first ever! If you’re new to fishing, it’s crucial to hook up with an experienced captain and crew, so start your charter boat search early.
Even if you’re not on one of the competing boats, the Open provides quite a show. Weigh-ins are held each evening of the tournament from 4-9:15pm at Harbour Island Marina, 14th St. & the Bay. Weigh-ins are open to the public and free of charge. It’s a great place to bring the whole family to watch beautiful boats, view the day’s catch, and join in on the excitement. If you go, here’s a parking tip: there is no parking available at Harbour Island. The Presbyterian Church on 14th St., just a block away, offers parking for a small donation. Parking is also available at the Convention Center with access to the free express trolley to Harbour Island. Park for free there and catch a bus to the weigh-ins.
Ocean City’s 43rd Annual White Marlin Open is scheduled for Aug. 8-12, 2016. For more information, write White Marlin Open, P.O. Box 737, Ocean City, MD 21843, or call 410-289-9229. You can also visit their website at www.whitemarlinopen.com.