(Aug. 9, 2019) After three days of weigh-ins of the 46th annual White Marlin Open, as of the close of the Harbour Island Marina scale Wednesday night, a 74-pound white marlin was in first place.
Nathan Walker caught the billfish aboard Chasin Tail on Monday, the first day of the Open. It is currently worth $1,450,000.
The second-place fish, Michael Wagner’s 73.5-pound marlin, was landed on Tuesday aboard the Backlash. The estimated payout is $1,500,000.
Cricket angler William Blakemore reeled in a 71-pound white marlin on Tuesday. The crew has the potential to receive $89,000.
The only blue marlin brought to the scale as of Wednesday night was Craig Dickerson’s 465.5-pounder, caught aboard Haulin N Ballin on Tuesday. That fish could bring in $740,000.
Russell Garufi’s 201-pound tuna held the top spot in the division after three days of weigh-ins. The fish he hooked on Monday could earn Garufi and his Crisdel teammates $940,000.
Mjoinir angler Ronnie Fields landed a 145.5-pound tuna on Tuesday. It is estimated to be worth $130,000.
Mike DiPascali boated a 135-pound tuna on Tuesday, while fishing on The Right Place. The team could receive a check for $36,000.
Graham Ward reeled in a 121-pound tuna aboard Reeldiculous on Wednesday. The team could take home $100,000.
An 82-pound wahoo led the division on Wednesday night. Kyle McLaughlin reeled in the fish aboard The Natural on Monday.
Keepin It Reel angler Sam Folland boated a 61.5-pound wahoo on Tuesday.
Both teams’ wahoos are estimated to be worth $18,000.
Sarah Bohlman’s 54.5-pound wahoo landed on Monday aboard Caneelin could earn the angler and her teammates $2,000.
Jay Monteverdi caught a 54.5-pound wahoo on Wednesday aboard Night Hawk III. That fish could bring in $16,000.
Game Changer’s Rob Howes had the largest dolphin of the tournament after three days. He reeled in the 35.5-pound fish on Monday. The group could win $18,000.
The Viking 72 was in second place with Ryan Higgins’ 33-pound dolphin nabbed on Tuesday. The team could receive $16,000.
John Albanese III picked up a 30.5-pound dolphin aboard the Ditchdigger Too on Monday. The fish is estimated to be worth $1,500.
Robbie Thrift and his Right Hook teammates could pocket $75,000 for the 28.5-pounder he hooked on Tuesday.
Hellsea angler Don Smiley caught a 22-pound dolphin on Wednesday. Its estimated value is $16,000.
The only shark brought to the scale as of Wednesday night was Greg Robinson’s 277.5-pound mako reeled in aboard Polarizer on Monday. The team could take home $225,000.
Some of the lower-placing fish in each division have the potential to win more prize money than the larger ones ahead of them because of participation in the added entry-level calcuttas.
A total of 404 boats are participating in this year’s tournament, which has a record payout of $6.1 million. In 2018, 382 boats were registered with a then-record payout of $5.45 million.
“I’m very happy about it. I didn’t know if we would get 382 or hit 400, but it all worked out,” Jim Motsko, co-director and founder of the White Marlin Open, said on Thursday morning. “Everything is going smoothly so far. We got our goals – we hit 400 boats and over $6 million in prize money.”
It is the third-highest turnout in tournament history. The largest participation was 449 boat in 2005, followed by 428 entries in 2006.
The record payout can be attributed to the additional boats in the tournament this year as well as the two new added entry-level calcuttas – Level SBD, winner-take-all small boat (under 40 feet length overall) for dolphin, and big fish (BF) for all size boats, winner takes all for the heaviest overall white marlin, blue marlin, swordfish, tuna, dolphin, wahoo or shark – boosting the prize money total.
“It’s exciting. With the couple new added levels and the increase in boats it was able to get us up there,” Motsko said.
Motsko also said if the trend continues they could beat the Open record of white marlin releases. The record of 1,358 was set in 2016. In just the first two days of the 2019 Open, over 900 have been released.
Depending on where crews are fishing, some have been releasing five to 10 per day, while others have picked up 15-20, Motsko said.
“Years ago we changed the minimum weight [to qualify] so it shows you can have a multi-million dollar tournament and release a majority of the fish and still pay out a lot of money,” he said.
Crews can fish three of five days. A total of 389 boats went offshore on Monday. On Tuesday, 335 boats venture out. On Wednesday, 120 boats headed offshore.
Thursday, 103 crews fished.
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.