The 43rd Annual White Marlin Open came to an end on Sunday, Aug. 14, with the closing ceremonies for the five-day bill-fishing tournament in Ocean City, Md., seeing winners from up and down the East Coast.
The big winner was Phil Heasley and the crew on the Kallianassa, from Naples, Fla., who reeled in a 76.5-pound white marlin and check for a cool $2.8 million as a result.
While the catch won Heasley the grand prize, it weighed in as the second-smallest winning white since 2000, and smallest since 2012.
As for blue marlin, however, Jim Conway and the crew on the Get Reel pulled in the largest blue in the last five years, weighing in at a staggering 790 pounds, good for a $258,995 check.
The tournament also saw the largest tuna caught in the past three years, with Rich Kosztyu of the Hubris, out of Forked River, N.J., landing a 236.5-pounder for a $767,091 prize.
Edgewater, Md.’s Richmond Hammond aboard the Two Timing Connie netted the $24,862.50 prize for the tournament’s largest wahoo, with a 79-pounder caught on the second day on the water — the largest wahoo caught this year, by 25 pounds.
As for the sharks, J.D. Messler and the MJ’s, out of New Jersey, boated a 260.5-pound hammerhead for first-place, and Hunter Pusey and the crew of the Rumor Has It, from Chincoteague Island, Va., snagged a 223-pound mako.
While this year’s tournament included Captain “Wild Bill” Wichrowski from Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” it also saw plenty of local anglers as well.
Bethany Beach’s the Sea Flame and Josh Sharp took the grand prize in the dolphin category, bringing in a 39-pounder at the final hour on Friday, Aug. 12, and edging out two 36-pound dolphins caught earlier in the week.
The crew from the Rock Doc featured area anglers Tyler, Matthew and Tim Tribbitt, Jerry Mieklejohn, Cory Lednum and Ryan Savage, who reeled in several catches, including a 25.5-pound dolphin while fishing with Captain Bob Wiggins out of Charleston, S.C.
Overall, this year’s WMO set a new record, with 1,366 white marlin caught and released.