The White Marlin Open (WMO) is a 48-year-old, deep-sea fishing tournament held annually in Ocean City, Maryland. It awards prize money for the biggest catches of white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, dolphin, and shark. The first tournament, held in 1974, drew 57 boats, 150 anglers, and paid a total of $20,000 in prize money with the top award being $5,000. Today it is known as the “World’s Largest Billfishing Tournament,” and has awarded more than $70 million since its conception and hosted more than 100,000 anglers aboard more than 14,000 registered boats. 

A New Jersey angler is now the second officially recognized state record holder for swordfish, which he caught in a tournament August 6 at Ocean City. Jake Bertonazzi broke the state’s nearly two-week-old record for the Atlantic Division with a 318.5-pound swordfish caught while participating in the White Marlin Open, roughly 60 miles offshore in Poor Man’s Canyon. Read more here.

This year, the event hosted 444 boats, over 3,000 contestants, and paid out over $9,259,150 in prize money, including the top individual award that totalled $3.2 million. 

On Monday, a whopping 421 boats headed offshore. On Tuesday, 420 fished. Wednesday was a slower day, with 36 crews going offshore. On Thursday, 51 teams went fishing. The release rate for whites is over 98%, as only five of the 326 were boated. Only one blue marlin was boated. All of the spearfish and sailfish were released.

The 2021 White Marlin will go down as one of the most dramatic finishes in the history of the tournament. A massive 82.5-pound white marlin, caught by Mike Atkinson off the “Fender Bender”, was the first fish weighed and held the winning spot—and $5 million—until the final hour of weigh-ins at Harbour Island Marina. 

Winning Fish

Local boat “Sushi” out of Ocean City, MD with angler Butch Wright from Arnold, MD pulled in with the catch that change everything— a white marlin that tipped the scales at 85.5 pounds, taking first place and $3,200,000 from the “Fender Bender,” who still walked away with $1.8 million.

“Thanks to everyone who’s helped us in so many ways over the last few decades to get to this awesome day,” said Capt. Charley. “It takes a team; and what an amazing group of fishermen and friends we have.”

For a full summary of the tournament and more information on the winners, along with the fish that were caught, click here. If you’re interested in fishing in next year's White Marlin Open, you can find more information on their website above. 

Come fishing In Maryland

Be sure to acquire your fishing license from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources before heading out.

You can purchase your Maryland License online, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for more information on seasons and regulations before heading out!

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