printed 08/02/2019

The big money comes to town next week with the White Marlin Open, an event that draws some of the best and some of the wealthiest anglers in the world.

As is evidenced by the story elsewhere in this week’s paper on Bayliss Boatworks and the three multi-million-dollar custom boats it will bring to the tournament, this kind of fishing is not a sport for the under-funded.

This is even though the amount spent on chasing the prize has less to do with determining the winners than pure luck and being in the right place at the right time.

What is just as notable as the wealth of this event, however, is how conservation-minded it has been since its advent in 1974. Outside the tournament, those were the days when catching a white marlin at any time in the season often meant bringing it back to the docks just to prove the angler’s success.

This was even though the person who caught the fish had no use for it once the show-and-tell had ended. The White Marlin Open didn’t want any part of that and from its outset big-time anglers fought more for release points than they did prize money.

In recent years, however, more and more anglers everywhere have come to understand that these billfish, both white and blue marlin, as well as spearfish, are a limited resource that must be protected if they want to continue to pursue this sport.

The proof of that concern is shown in the catch totals, which last year saw 705 white marlin releases out of 723 caught. Of the 58 blue marlin caught in the tournament last year, all but two were released. Twenty-seven other gamefish were returned to the ocean as well.

To people who follow or go fishing off the coast and out in the canyons, those are some admirable numbers. For those just here for the spectacle, well, they can admire some of the best sportfishing boats money can buy.

We’re all in on both counts.

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