The 2012 White Marlin Open featured huge tuna, a Maryland State record shark, and a white marlin that earned top honors and $1,429,000 in prize money.
253 boats, from Florida to New England, registered to compete for over $2,300,000 in prize money for catches of white & blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, dolphin and shark. Ocean City, MD lived up to its title of “The White Marlin Capital of the World,” as 960 whites were caught during the 39th annual event with all but 8 released back into the ocean.
Monday’s 20 knot winds kept all but 10 boats at the dock, but 243 boats fished Tuesday, and the huge crowds gathered at the official scale at Harbour Island saw some very big fish weighed. “Amarula Sun,” an 82 foot Viking out of Tarpon Springs, FL started things off with a 66.5 Lb. wahoo that grabbed 1st place, but not for long. Jay Yeager fishing aboard the “A-Lure” out of Annapolis, MD weighed a 202 Lb. big eye tuna good for first place and a brief hold on over $200,000. The “Canyon Runner” from Point Pleasant, NJ changed the standings with two big fish. They first weighed a 70.5 pound wahoo caught by Jamie Greer from Dayton, OH that took first place and held on to win $28,756. Their second fish was a 236 pound big eye tuna, caught by Dave Dunton from Milford, OH that claimed 1st place, and a chance for over $300,000 if it held through Friday.
On Wednesday, 239 boats went fishing and returned with some game changers. The “Tra Sea Ann” out of Brielle, NJ weighed a 229 pound big eye tuna overtaking the “A-Lure” for 2nd place and for a short time was worth over $50,000. Craig Dengler of York, PA weighed a 126.5 shark, (a favorite with the kids). But it was William Woody from Pasadena, MD that landed a 72 pound white marlin, (2 pounds above the tournament minimum) while fishing aboard Ocean City’s “Blew Bayou” that electrified the crowd and held claim to $900,000 – if it held up through Friday. Then came the “Right Hook” out of Heathsville, VA with Yorktown, VA angler Norman Pullium to weigh a 238 pound big eye tuna that jumped over the “Canyon Runner’s” tuna by two pounds. When it was all over, Pullium’s tuna won $324,500, Dunton’s tuna took 2nd and $253,825, while “Tra Sea Ann’s” 229 big eye netted 3rd and $24,750.
Friday’s forecast was not favorable, so 243 boats used Thursday as their last fishing day. The blue marlin category still had no minimum 500 pound qualifier and no claim on the $546,000 winnings in that division. It’s not as if blue marlin are rare off Maryland’s coast. In 2008 a 935.5 pound blue won the WMO, and the 2009 saw the first Grander (a 1000 pounder) when a 1062 pound blue was weighed. That was followed by a 1010.5 pound blue weighed in 2010. So Thursday began with no minimum blue marlin and only 1 qualifying white. If William Woody’s 72 pound white could stay alone in the white category, and no blue was weighed above 500 pounds, he stood to gain another $500,000 from the vacant slots. There were leaderboard changes on Thursday. “Let It Ride” out of Monmouth Beach, NJ weighed the top dolphin at 33 pounds, Scott Cusick from Jackson, NJ aboard the “Milling Around,” out of Atlantic Highlands, NJ weighed a 266.5 scalloped hammerhead good for 1st and a MD State Record. The “Sniper” raced up from VA Beach just in time to weigh a 42.5 pound wahoo netting $26,750 and the “Fish Whistle,” out of Ocean City, MD weighed a 58.5 tuna caught by Stephen Schwing from Catonsville, MD. While not a huge tuna, the “Fish Whistle,” was entered in the 36′ and under category and the tuna netted the boat $55,460.
But still no blue, or other qualifying whites. The “Blew Bayou” had one more day to sweat it out. The 26 boats that were eligible to fish on Friday did no damage, and when the scales officially closed at 9:15 PM, the team from the “Blew Bayou” stood on the mountain top. Their 72 pound white marlin took top cash award of $1,429,000 which was the same as the prize money paid to the winner of the 2012 US Open Golf Championship, The British Open and The Masters. It exceeded the purse to the owners of the winning horse of 2012 Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. Nice payday for catching a fish!
The Trophy Hunter took home top honors as the winning boat with 1855 total billfish points. They released 24 white marlin and 1 blue marlin over their 3 days of fishing. Kenneth Brown was named Captain of the Year and Stephen Belto and Isael Medina were Mates of the Year.
WMO 2011 – Video Recap