WMO tuna 2022

As of Wednesday evening, Jason Hersh’s (Maple Glen, Pennsylvania) 247.5-pound big eye led the tuna division of the 49th annual White Marlin Open tournament. The Southern C’s angler and his teammates have the potential to win $1.2 million or more. After three days of fishing, as of Thursday morning no qualifying white or blue marlin had been caught.

(Aug. 12, 2022) After three days of fishing, as of Thursday morning, no qualifying white or blue marlin had been caught during the 49th annual White Marlin Open tournament.

Jim Motsko, founder and co-director of the Open, said boat captains have been reporting that marlin fishing is slow.

“Only one in 10 boats have caught a marlin [white or blue],” he said. “[As of Wednesday night] 76 white marlin have been released with only one boated, and 35 blue marlin, with none boated.

“The water isn’t conducive for them right now, but it could switch,” he continued. “In a 100-mile radius [tournament fishing distance limit from the Ocean City inlet sea buoy] there’s been no hot spots for them.”

There have been a few years with either no white or no blue marlin qualifiers. There has never been an Open when neither a qualifying blue or white marlin were caught.

On Monday, 292 out of the Open’s 408 boats headed offshore. Thirty-two white marlin and 19 blues were released.

Twenty-eight tuna were boated and numerous were weighed at Harbour Island Marina on 14th Street, bayside.

Only 15 boats went out on Tuesday and none reported catching fish.

On Wednesday, 279 boats fished. Forty-four white marlin were released and only one was boated that met the tournament’s 70-inch length minimum. The fish weighed 65 pounds – five pounds short of the tournament minimum.

“We’re hoping for a qualifier. We had one close [Wednesday],” Motsko said.

The minimum length for blue marlin is 114 inches. There is no minimum weight.

Sixteen blue marlin were released on Wednesday.

If no qualifying white or blue marlin are caught that prize money will go into the tuna division.

As of the close of scale Wednesday evening, Jason Hersh’s (Maple Glen, Pennsylvania) 247.5-pound big eye led the tuna division. The Southern C’s angler and his teammates have the potential to win $1.2 million or more if the spot holds and no qualify white or blue marlin are weighed.

“If there’s no white or blue [qualifier] the money defaults to the heaviest tuna,” Motsko said. “I just hope one comes in. I would also like to see a blue marlin and swordfish.”

Big Stick angler Anderson Bowen of Suwanee, Georgia, was in second place with a 246.5-pound tuna. The fish was estimated to be worth $100,000.

Dante Soriente (Beach Haven, New Jersey), who was fishing on the boat MJ’s, was in third place after three days of fishing with a 230-pound big eye. The possible payout is $40,000.

The top wahoo was a 71 pounder, caught by Chris Thompson of Mount Airy, Maryland, aboard Jenny Poo. The fish is potentially worth $20,000.

A 51.5-pound wahoo was in second place as of Thursday morning, caught by Patrick Brown of Miami aboard Irish Twin. The fish could bring in $18,000.

Vernon Merritt, Jr. of Chincoteague, Virginia, landed a 29-pound dolphin and held first place in the division as of Wednesday night aboard 10-4 Joker. The possibly payout for the fish is $91,000.

JEB angler Vince Piccinini of Lutherville, Maryland, hooked a 28-pound dolphin and was in second place. The crew could win $20,000 if it remains in second place.

Keeley Megarity of Houston, Texas, was in third place as of Thursday morning with a 26.5-pound dolphin caught aboard C-Student. It was estimated to be worth $3,000.

Swordfish is a new category for the tournament this year. As of Wednesday night, none had been boated.

Teams can fish three of the five tournament days. A total of 352 boats headed offshore on Thursday. About 300 boats are eligible to fish on Friday.

“I expect more fish to be caught on Friday because the wind is shifting directions. It can’t get any worse for marlin fishing,” Motsko said Thursday morning.

Catch the final weigh-ins live at Harbour Island Marina on 14th Street from 4-9:15 p.m.

In addition, Marlin Fest is taking place on the beach at the inlet from 1-9 p.m. The weigh-ins will be broadcast live on a jumbo screen and numerous food, beverage and retail vendors will be on hand. There are also events for children, live music from 1-3:30 p.m. daily, corn hole and other activities.

“Marlin Fest has been fantastic,” Motsko said. “There’s been lots of good crowds and the scenery has been perfect.”

The weigh-ins will be streamed live on www.whitemarlinopen.com. Daily activity and updates will also be posted on the website and Facebook.

The first White Marlin Open took place in 1974 with 57 boats registered and a guaranteed $20,000 in prize money.

This year, 408 boats are entered and the total prize money to be awarded is about $8.6 million, down a bit from 2021 when 444 boats participated and more than $9.2 million was distributed among the winners.

“I was hoping we’d do better than last year [as far as participation] but then reality set in. With fuel costs, the war, inflation … the turnout was better than I expected,” Motsko said. “So far, it’s been going smoothly. The weather’s not perfect, but it hasn’t been terribly windy. There’s been no bad days.”

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