(Aug. 17, 2018) A record $5.45 million was awarded to the winners of the 45th annual White Marlin Open, held Aug. 6-10, and about half of the purse was presented to the Weldor’s Ark crew for Pascual Jimenez’s 83-pound white marlin.
The Puerto Aventuras, Mexico angler landed the fish last Friday, the final day of the tournament. The marlin actually tied with Gregory Giron’s (Virginia Beach), who boated his 83 pounder aboard Under Dog, last Thursday.
However, according to the White Marlin Open rules, “in the event of a tie in the weight of a white marlin, the fish that is not gaffed will be considered the winner of the two.”
This rule was implemented years ago to prevent fish from being needlessly killed and to conserve the species, said Jim Motsko, White Marlin Open co-director and founder.
“Years ago we were told that more than one boat was gaffing fish, bringing them on the boat, measuring them and throwing them back [if they were too small],” he said. “This went on more than once. In an effort to make them think twice, we added that rule. It’s been in effect for awhile – about eight to 10 years. It’s a rule and we abide by our rules.”
Giron’s marlin was brought on board with the assistance of a gaff – a pole or stick with a hook on the end used to stab the fish and lift it into the boat.
The Weldor’s Ark crew did not use a gaff and was presented $2,584,260 – a new tournament record. The Under Dog team won $129,784.
“I feel sorry for the other team. I don’t blame them for gaffing it. It’s a big fish,” Motsko said. “What are the chances that there will be marlin weighing the same size? The chances are slim. It is rare. It’s only happened two times in 45 years.”
Two hundred eighteen boats registered for the Level E Winner Take All calcutta for white marlin, which cost $5,000 to enter. The pot totaled $981,000. One hundred thirty-eight crews registered for the Level WM (White Marlin Winner Take All) added entry-level calcutta, which cost $10,000 to enter. The purse for that calcutta was $1,242,000. Both pots went to the Weldor’s Ark team.
Bill Haugland of Coconut Grove, Florida, and his Lights Out teammates took home $85,804 for his 75-pound white marlin caught last Tuesday.
The only qualifying blue marlin tipped the scale at 881 pounds. Joe Rahman of Wanaque, New Jersey landed the blue marlin – the sixth largest in tournament history – while fishing on Auspicious, last Monday. The group received a check for $924,936.
Level F Blue Marlin Winner Take All added entry-level calcutta pot totaled $399,600 with 222 boats out of the 382 registered for the tournament entered into it.
Billfish species conservation is stressed each year. For 2018, 705 white marlins were released and 18 were boated (98 percent). Two blue marlins were boated and 56 were released (97 percent).
Twenty-two spearfish and five sailfish were released. None were boated.
More than $1.3 million was awarded in the tuna division this year – a new record. The prize money increased so much compared to 2017 because of the addition of the T4 added entry-level calcutta Heaviest Winner Take All for tuna.
“We get a lot of people fishing for tuna – I would say 30 to 40 percent,” Motsko said. “It’s not just a marlin tournament.”
Motsko knew the calcutta would be well received by teams, but it was better than expected. The cost to enter the calcutta was $3,000. A total of 141 registered for the T4 calcutta. The payout in just that entry-level alone was $380,700.
That money went to the Buckshot crew for Gary Sansburry’s (Hobe Sound, Florida) 75.5-pound tuna boated last Thursday. The team won a total of $904,851.
Blackstone, Massachusetts resident Charles Matattal reeled in a 73.5-pound tuna aboard Blinky IV last Wednesday, good for second place in the division. The team earned $135,421.
Brass Monkey angler Jake Pilkerton of Leonardtown, Maryland, hooked a 71-pound tuna last Monday. Because of participation in added entry-levels, including the Small Boat Heaviest Tuna Winner Take All calcutta, the crew was awarded $215,916.
Ken Doody of Selbyville, Delaware, picked up a 59.5-pound tuna while fishing on Game Over, last Friday. The team took home a check for $50,400.
In the dolphin division, Fin-Nominal came in first place with Louis Genello’s (Scranton, Pennsylvania) 50 pounder caught last Tuesday. The fish was worth $19,646.
The Rigged Up took second place with George Mess’ (Ocean City) 41-pound dolphin reeled in last Thursday. The group received $18,646.
Rob Overfield (Fawn Grove, Pennsylvania) caught a 36-pound dolphin last Monday aboard Moxie Boys and was awarded $16,646.
Norman Rockwell (Baldwin, Maryland) and his Sea Note teammates earned a check for $15,300 for his 23-pound dolphin boated last Wednesday.
The Bonnie Lynn crew also won $15,300 for Kevin Steinhice’s (Westminster, Maryland) 22 pounder landed last Friday.
Kevin Graybill’s (Morgantown, Pennsylvania) 63-pound wahoo was the largest of the tournament. He and his Over-Board teammates were presented $115,271 for the fish boated last Friday.
The crew received such a big payout because of participation in added entry-level calcuttas, including the Small Boat Big Fish (Heaviest White Marlin, Blue Marlin, Tuna, Dolphin, Wahoo or Shark) - Winner Take All.
The Desperado team finished in second place with Kenny Sexton’s (Manteo, North Carolina) 58-pound wahoo caught last Wednesday. They took home $1,846.
Canyon Hunter angler Charles Dawson (Partlow, Virginia) landed a 55-pound wahoo last Wednesday and got a check for $21,471.
Leo Cantillo (Clifton, New Jersey) hooked a 47-pound wahoo while fishing on The Right Place last Tuesday. The crew won $19,125.
The Instigator team also received $19,125 for Curtis Colgate’s (Virginia Beach) 43-pound wahoo caught last Thursday.
Top Three Boats (releases):
Viking 72: 10 white marlins and one blue marlin released, 875 points; Billfisher, 12 white marlins released, 840 points; Fin Planner, 11 white marlins released, 770 points.
Top Three Anglers:
Ron Kawaja (Fin Planner), eight white marlins released, 560 points; Joe Rahman (Auspicious), three white releases, one white boated and one blue marlin boated, 503 points; Greg Lentz (Trust Me Too), three whites, one blue and one spearfish released, 455 points.
A total of 382 boats registered for this year’s tournament.
Crews could 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 ventured out. On Wednesday, 129 boats headed offshore. Thursday, 213 fished, and on the final day last Friday, 335 boats went offshore.
Overall, Motsko thought the tournament was “excellent.”
“We had great weather and that was the key to us getting a few more smaller boats. Marlin fishing wasn’t fantastic, but it was pretty good,” he said. “We had the biggest single winner this year, a record payout, no major incidents. I’m very happy with it.”
The 2019 tournament is scheduled Aug. 5-9.