It’s called by many “the biggest billfish tournament in the world.”
It’s also known as the fishing event with the most prize money.
But it seems that someone forgot to tell the billfish – at least, the bigger ones.
The 50th annual White Marlin Open out of Ocean City, Md., has entered its third of five days of angling and plenty of white marlin have been released by the 400-team event that features a total payout of $1.5 million.
While 220 whites and 16 blues have been caught, none have been big enough to bring to the weigh-in station for a shot at the money. No swordfish are on the leaderboard, either.
That leaves Blue Bell, Pa., angler Robert Wagner as the current big winner. His 199-pound bigeye tuna caught o the Ocean City-based Instigator the only guy looking at a big paycheck. His fish is currently worth $1 million.
John Harris of Boyertown, Pa., leads the wahoo division with a 57-pounder caught on the Shooting Star out of Indian River, Del. His fish is worth only $2,000 since the team didn’t enter all categories.
Harley Smegar of St. Augustine, Fla., leads the dolphin division with 21-pounder caught on the New Smyrna Beach, Fla.,-based Hey Buddy. His fish is worth $32,000.
The tournament, founded by the Motsko family, has been a mainstay in the later summer tournament scene. Director Jim Motsko was unavailable for contact as of Wednesday morning.
To qualify for weigh-ins, anglers much have a white marlin weighing at least 70 pounds and measuring at least 70 inches. There are no weight minimums for blue marlin or swordfish, but blues must be at least 114 inches and swords must be 60 inches.
Tuna have a minimum weight of 50 pounds, while dolphin are 20 and wahoo 40.
Teams are allowed to fish three out of the five days, but no more.
The final day of action is Friday, with an awards banquet on Saturday.
Several Virginia and North Carolina vessels have been successful in winning the open, which attracts teams from all up and down the East Coast.