(June 7, 2019) When the groups aboard the boats Uncle Keith and Hot Rod went offshore fishing last weekend, neither was looking for the first Ocean City white marlin of the season, but both just happened to stumble upon them.

Dave Nolan trailered the Uncle Keith, a 27-foot Tolman Jumbo Skiff he built in his garage in 2011 and keeps at his home in Cecil County, Maryland, to Ocean City for a double-overnight trip last Friday.

He debated tuna fishing, but since the mahi bite is hot, Nolan said they opted to go for the latter.

Nolan, along with Phil Ingram, Jake Galioto and Gary S. (who asked to not have his last name published), headed offshore around 11:30 p.m. from Fisherman’s Marina in West Ocean City last Friday.

Nolan said the crew started fishing around 5 a.m. on Saturday.

They picked up two good-size mahi, Nolan said, before the action started.

They came across a big bait ball between the Washington and Baltimore canyons in 73-degree water with a bunch of birds around it, and just like that, two lines went off. The group had two white marlin bites.

“It was pretty neat,” Nolan said. “It was within about 15 seconds of each other.”

It was around 10:15-10:20 a.m. and after about six or seven minutes, Nolan said, that Galioto’s fish broke off. Gary S. fought the other marlin for about 10 minutes before it was at the boat, Nolan said.

They measured the fish, took some photos and released it.

Nolan said it measured about 66-67 inches from the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. He estimated it to weigh about 65 pounds.

“It seemed pretty fat,” he said. “It looked pretty healthy.”

They spotted a third white marlin, but it didn’t bite.

Nolan said they had no clue it was the first white marlin out of Ocean City this season.

“I figured someone had already claimed it,” he said.

They fished the rest of the day Saturday and caught two more mahi, Nolan said. Three they caught ranged from 15-20 pounds, while the other was about 10 pounds, he added.

During their trip, they also released two hammerhead sharks and caught some sea bass, tilefish and mackerel.

After sending out some text messages, Nolan said the crew discovered they had released the first white marlin of the season.

“We were thrilled. There’s so many good fishermen in Ocean City. We were just lucky. In the right place at the right time,” he said. “We usually tuna fish. We never try to fish for marlin on purpose. It’s usually a by-catch.”

In his 30 years of fishing, Nolan said he has released five white marlins and one blue marlin.

The crew will receive a total of $11,000. One check for $5,000 will come from the Town of Ocean City and a check for $6,000 will be presented by the Fishermen United of Ocean City, which is made up of the Bank of Ocean City, Bahia Marina, Coastal Fisherman, Sunset Marina, Ocean City Fishing Center and Atlantic Tackle.

The Ocean City Marlin Club also offers a $5,000 prize to the club member who catches the first white marlin of the season, which was still available because the Uncle Keith had none on board.

It wasn’t long though until that award was claimed.

On Sunday, Steve Selander decided to take his new, custom 33-foot boat, Hot Rod, offshore to catch some bluefin tuna. Joining him was his son-in-law, Riley McCabe.

“It was kind of a shakedown trip to get the boat out,” he said.

They left around 6 a.m. from the Ocean City Fishing Center in West Ocean City.

While fishing for tuna in the Hot Dog area offshore in 64.5-degree water, a white marlin took their bait.

“It’s unusual to catch a marlin in 64.5-degree water. We were surprised,” he said. “That’s cold water for a white.”

It took Selander about 15-20 minutes to get the billfish to the boat. They took a few quick pictures, then released it around 9:10 a.m.

“It was a nice-size white marlin,” he said. “It was a nice fish.”

He estimated it to weigh about 70-75 pounds.

They released a few skipjack tunas during their trip but headed back to shore early.

“We were done around 11:30 [a.m.]. We made a short day of it,” he said. “The marlin was definitely a bonus for us.”

Selander said he had an idea it was the first white marlin for the club.

“We were just going out for fun. No pressure,” he said. “It was all good. I’m happy. The boat ran well. It was a good day overall.”

Selander, who has been fishing out of Ocean City for more than 25 years, said he has caught and released hundreds of marlin.

The Berlin resident ran a charter boat for about 20 years. He sold that bigger boat and bought the 33-footer a few months ago “to have something to fish on for fun.”

As a Marlin Club member, he will receive the organization’s $5,000 prize.

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