(Aug. 10, 2018) After three days of weigh-ins of the 45th annual White Marlin Open, as of the close of the Harbour Island Marina scale Wednesday night, only one qualifying white marlin was on leaderboard.

Bill Haugland landed a 75-pound white marlin while fishing on the Lights Out (Ocean Reef, Florida) on Tuesday. With no other qualifying white marlins boated, the fish was estimated to be worth $2.6 million.

Although it’s a decent size, Jim Motsko, co-director and founder of the White Marlin Open, thinks it could be topped with so many crews fishing Thursday and Friday.

“The odds are it’s going to be beat,” he said. “I think we could have one or more weigh more than that.”

As of Wednesday night, only one qualifying blue marlin had been weighed. Joe Rahman hooked an 881-pound blue marlin aboard the Auspicious (Palm Beach, Florida) on Monday. The estimated payout for the fish is $700,000.

“I can’t see anyone beating that now,” Motsko said. “The odds are slim.”

While teams are searching for big white and blue marlins, conservation of the species was also stressed.

According to the White Marlin Open website, of the 325 white marlins hooked, only eight have been boated (98 percent release rate). Just one blue marlin of the 30 caught has been boated (97 percent). All 16 of the spearfish landed have been released.

“That’s about a 98.5 percent release ratio,” Motsko said. “It shows you can run a big tournament and have a lot of releases.”

A 73.5-pound tuna leads the division. Charles Matattal caught the fish aboard Blinky IV (Point Lookout, New York) on Wednesday. The group could win an estimated $520,000.

In second place after three days of weigh-ins was Jake Pilkerton’s 71-pound tuna. He reeled in the fish on Monday aboard Brass Monkey (Leonardtown, Maryland). That fish could bring in $578,000.

Dialed In (Spring Lake, New Jersey) angler Davis Rose landed a 69-pound tuna on Monday. The crew has the potential to receive $34,000.

Rob Howes’ 62-pound tuna he caught on the Game Changer (Ocean City) on Tuesday could earn him and his teammates $91,000.

Motsko said he knew the new T4 added entry-level calcutta Heaviest Winner Take All for tuna would be well received by teams. It was better than expected. The cost to enter the calcutta was $3,000. For the crew that catches the heaviest tuna and is entered into that calcutta the payout in just that entry-level alone is about $383,000.

“It seems like we get a lot of boats that like to tuna fish. Last year people were asking, ‘is that all [the calcuttas] you have for tuna?’” Motsko said. “I would say we have about 30 to 40 percent fishing for tuna.”

Louis Genello’s 50-pound dolphin held the top spot in the division as of Thursday morning. He reeled in the fish on Tuesday aboard Fin-Nominal (Indian River, Delaware).

In second place was Rob Overfield’s 36-pound mahi he hooked aboard Moxie Boys (Ocean City) on Monday. Both dolphins are estimated to be worth $17,000 each.

Halcyon (Ocean City) angler Al Aus’ 30-pound dolphin boated on Monday was in third place midweek. Its estimated value is $1,000.

Norman Rockwell (Sea Note, Oregon Inlet, North Carolina) picked up a 23-pound dolphin on Wednesday. The crew has the potential to win $15,000.

Kenny Sexton’s (Desperado, Virginia Beach) 58-pound wahoo led the division as of Wednesday night. The team could take home $2,000.

Both the second- and third-place wahoo had an estimated payout of $17,000 each midweek.

Charles Dawson (Canyon Hunter, Indian River, Delaware) landed his 55 pounder on Wednesday. Leo Cantillo (The Right Place, Ocean City) was in the third-place spot with his 47-pound wahoo caught on Tuesday.

A total of 382 boats are participating in this year’s tournament, which has a record payout of $5.45 million. In 2017, 353 boats were registered with a payout of $4.97 million.

Crews can fish three of five days. A total of 319 boats went offshore on Monday. More than half took a lay day on Tuesday as 150 venture out. On Wednesday, 129 boats headed offshore.

When asked Thursday morning how the tournament was going so far, Motsko said, “excellent.”

“We’re fortunate to have good weather,” he added. “We have more boats than last year and a larger payout, which is great.”

Thursday, 213 fished.

“Most boat will be fishing Thursday and Friday,” he said.

The final day of fishing is today, Friday. Weigh-ins, which are free and open to the public, are from 4-9:15 p.m. at Harbour Island Marina on 14th Street, bayside.

For more information about the tournament or to watch the weigh-ins streaming live, visit www.whitemarlinopen.com.

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