(May 17, 2019) Anglers who catch their first-ever white marlin in the White Marlin Capital of the World will soon get certificates in the mail commemorating the achievement.
Scott Lenox, who operates the Fish in OC information services business, handed out demonstration certificates to Tourism Commission members on Monday during an overview of his activities, along with a budget request that netted him $15,000.
According to Lenox, the organization started five years ago with help from the commission and the town’s tourism department.
He said Fish in OC, which provides fishing photos and reports from the resort area, has used its website and social media to share information to thousands of local fishermen each year. He said the Facebook page has grown from 12,000 likes in 2016 to more than 24,000 this year, while the website last year had more than 320,000 visits.
Five years ago, Lenox said he asked for $15,000. Instead, the commission granted him $10,000 and use of some city assets as an “in kind” match to reach $15,000.
Today, he said the organization is self-sufficient.
“I didn’t want to come to you and just say, ‘Hey, I just want a raise.’ I wanted to show some added value,” Lenox said, referring to the certificates.
“I saw these in the chamber when I was there for a meeting, and the town doesn’t do it anymore,” he continued. “There’s no certificate or anything sent out to people who catch their first white marlin … and I thought in the White Marlin Capital of the World, it would be a pretty cool thing for the City Council and mayor’s office to send something out to people.”
Rather than have the city keep track of such things, Lenox offered to take care of the task himself.
He worked with Councilman John Gehrig’s D3Corp to build a web-based submission platform for local captains or the anglers to enter information on where and how each marlin is caught, along with what its vital statistics are, “so people would get something like this in the mail,” Lenox said.
Lenox added he wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but one local captain told him 98 people caught their first white marlins on his boat last year.
Councilwoman Mary Knight moved to approve the proposal, which was voted through unanimously, but with Gehrig abstaining.
“You’ve more than proven yourself,” Knight said, adding Lenox was “kind of a timid little guy” when he first came before the commission. “You were so quiet!” she said.
Tourism Director Donna Abbott agreed it was a great idea.
“Scott’s wonderful to work with,” she said, adding the city tried doing such a thing previously, but found many in the fishing industry were not terribly responsive.
“Scott’s got his involvement with the fishing industry,” she said. “It just makes sense to me and that’s a segment of our community that we need to keep promoting.”
Also during the meeting, commission members unanimously approved a new advertising rate schedule for the White Marlin Open’s live stream video program.
Lenox said he helped start a website, WhiteMarlinCam.com, several years ago when the annual event’s website crashed during the middle of the tournament.
By 2016, he said, the site was bringing in 220,000 views by live streaming the event. After an off year in 2017, when White Marlin Open organizers also broadcast the weigh-ins on Facebook Live, the site rebounded and brought in 309,000 views last year.
Today, the live feed includes a lead-in program to the weigh-ins, with sponsor segments and the sponsor’s logos remaining on the screen during each day of the White Marlin Open.
Lenox said last year each day allowed for one sponsor for a $3,000 fee. This year, he suggested allowing two sponsors per day at $3,000 each, or exclusive rights for one day for $5,000.
He said many local bars restaurants in town stream the feed, while it’s also become popular regionally, drawing views from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia.
“If you haven’t seen it, you should make it a point to watch it. People share it like crazy on social media too,” Gehrig said.
Knight agreed, adding several times last year she watched the feed when the weather became too oppressive to wait by the scales for several hours.
“I just sit there with my vodka gimlet and enjoy,” she said, moving to approve the new rate schedule.
The vote in favor was unanimous.