Last-day hero­ics lead to a huge vic­tory for a home­town fa­vorite


The White Mar­lin Open, a gi­ant among tour­na­ments, at­tracted 353 teams and of­fered a to­tal cash prize purse of $4.97 mil­lion in this year’s 44th an­nual event, held Au­gust 7-11, 2017, in Ocean City, Mary­land. A fore­cast for rough seas the first two days meant that most of the fleet took their manda­tory lay days early in the week, yield­ing some late hero­ics for sev­eral par­tic­i­pants.

Mike Don­ahue’s 86-pound white mar­lin on Grif­fin held the lead for sev­eral days, which had the team eye­ing a pos­si­ble $2-mil­lion-plus wind­fall. How­ever, when

Wire Nut pulled into the Har­bor Is­land weigh sta­tion in the tour­na­ment’s clos­ing hours, they put an end to those dreams.

Wire Nut’s Glen Frost weighed an im­pres­sive 95.5-pound white mar­lin, which led to a throaty roar of ap­proval from the hundreds of spec­ta­tors. Frost, an at­tor­ney from Stevensville, Mary­land, says: “We thought it was a blue mar­lin at first, and it was ab­so­lutely un­be­liev­able when we got [the fish] into the boat. We had a feel­ing that it might be the first-place white. The length wasn’t that good, but the girth was just out of this world.” The mar­lin was the third-largest in the tour­na­ment’s 44-year his­tory and earned the Wire Nut team an in­cred­i­ble pay­out of $1,654,800 in cash.

Don­ahue’s white mar­lin held on for sec­ond place, and thanks to the team’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the op­tional jack­pots, they walked away with a check for $1,525,960. Joe An­drews on M.R. Ducks had the third place white mar­lin at 79.5 pounds, win­ning $164,673.

In the tour­na­ment’s re­lease divi­sion, Rob Goth­ier Jr.’s BAR South team fin­ished in first place with 735 points from their eight white mar­lin and one blue mar­lin re­leases. Fen­der Ben­der was sec­ond with 700 points and 10 white mar­lin re­leases, while Wel­dor’s Ark was third with 665 points from seven whites and a blue mar­lin, all re­leased. There were no qual­i­fy­ing blue mar­lin landed dur­ing this year’s tour­na­ment.

The game-fish stand­ings were also im­pres­sive. The event’s top tuna

went to Joe Sadler on In­tents with his 68.5-pound yel­lowfin. Thanks to their jack­pot par­tic­i­pa­tion, the team earned a tour­na­ment-record $866,553 for their ef­forts. Capt. Rhett Bai­ley said it was their first bite of the tour­na­ment and that they nearly didn’t weigh the fish be­cause they were fo­cused on the bill­fish divi­sion. James Boyn­ton on Blue Run­ner was sec­ond with a 67-pound tuna, worth $90,380.

In the dol­phin divi­sion, which re­mained open un­til the fi­nal day of fish­ing, An­drew Co­hen from Silly Money made a splash with his 23-pounder, worth $74,841, an­other tour­na­ment-record pay­out for the cat­e­gory. Gary Ca­puano’s Day One-lead­ing wa­hoo on Hog Wild led through­out the tour­na­ment to win $27,841.

BILL-LESS BLUE TOPS IN BILOXI Fierce com­pe­ti­tion also yields a new state-record swordfish

Thanks in part to a beau­ti­ful weather fore­cast, the 2017 Mis­sis­sippi Gulf Coast Bill­fish Clas­sic hosted a record fleet of 120 teams, fish­ing out of Biloxi, Mis­sis­sippi, for a tour­na­ment record of more than $2 mil­lion in to­tal prize money. A bonus for the team break­ing the cur­rent Mis­sis­sippi state record by land­ing the event’s largest swordfish also helped boost par­tic­i­pa­tion.

De­spite the fish los­ing its bill in the bat­tle, Capt. Rus­sell Craft and the team on Aries, a 76-foot Vik­ing, landed a blue mar­lin large enough to win this year’s tour­na­ment; their 668.7-pounder was worth $397,925 in prize money. The team fish­ing aboard the 68-foot G&S Mol­lie cashed an even larger check, win­ning sec­ond place as well as top re­lease team. Mol­lie’s 654.5-pound blue tal­lied just over $403,000 in win­nings.

Born2Run, a 72-foot Vik­ing, was third with a 563.92-pound blue mar­lin, good for $242,940. Com­pe­ti­tion in the swordfish divi­sion was es­pe­cially fierce thanks to a bonus of $325,000 and a new Nis­san Ti­tan truck for the largest fish break­ing the cur­rent Mis­sis­sippi state record. In the end, that prize went to Pay Dirt, with a 242.5-pound swordfish.

White Mar­lin Open tour­na­ment di­rec­tor Jim Mot­sko (left) presents the Wire Nut team with a seven-fig­ure check dur­ing the awards cer­e­mony.

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