White Marlin Open August 8-12, 2016
329 Boats- Payout Over $4.4 Million
When the 2016 White Marlin Open ended at 9:15 Friday, August 12, there were some new WMO Tournament Records that blended together to create true milestones in 43-year-old the history of the event. The first (and arguably the most meaningful) record broken during the 2016 event took a backseat to the dazing amount of total prize money awarded and the staggering size of individual winnings. But it was the number of marlin caught and released that set a new standard for the WMO and served as a confirmation of Ocean City’s place at the center of Atlantic white marlin fishing. The success achieved by our 2016 WMO anglers reinforced Ocean City’s long held title as “The White Marlin Capital of the World.”
Over the 5 days, the 329 registered boats caught a record 1,412 total billfish. Of that total, 1,358 were white marlin, surpassing the previous a WMO Tournament record of 1,104 set in 2002. The results also confirmed the commitment to conservation demonstrated by the saltwater recreational angling community. The biggest prize money goes to white marlin, and this year there was over $2,700,00 up for grabs in that division. You would think anglers would bring in anything that came close to qualifying to grad some big bucks. Not this class of fisherman. Of the 1,358 that were caught, 1,334 were released.
While most boats experienced very good billfishing, the captains of a few boats found extraordinary conditions. The “Bullwinkle” out of Dover, DE found the fish each day and won the coveted 2016 WMO Top Boat Award with a 3-day total of 1890 points. That represented 27 white marlin releases spread between 5 anglers. Close behind at 1750 points was the “Krazy Salts” out of Palm Beach, FL. Team “Krazy Salts” amassed their points with 5 anglers releasing 25 whites. With 23 white marlin releases, the “Billfisher” also from Palm Beach, earned 1610 points good for 3rd Top Boat. Each of the top 3 boats were also registered in the 102 boat field in the Release Level, splitting the $95,000 purse as follows: “Bullwinkle” – $52,250, “Krazy Salts” – $28,500 and the “Billfisher” took $14,250.
The White Marlin Open’s most prestigious award doesn’t pay prize money, but it represents angling excellence. The WMO Angler of the Year is presented to the individual who caught and released the most billfish in a field of more than 2,500. The top 4 anglers are presented with the WMO Master Angler Ring which may be the most coveted bling in the billfishing community. This year’s recipient is Marc Verzaleno from Mountain Lakes, NJ who released 11 white and 1 blue marlin while fishing aboard the “Reel Steel” good for 945 points. Marc was followed closely by Kelli Roof who accumulated 735 points with 8 whites and 1 blue marlin released while fishing on the “Game On.” Third place was taken by Bob Mormile from Wallingford, PA on “Lizanne” with 10 white marlin releases
OK, enough about releases., just show us the money. There is a lot of money to be won in all divisions, but the bulk of the prize money is awarded for billfish and the really big money goes to the biggest white marlin. The White Marlin Open was the first tournament to award one million dollars for catching a fish including a WMO Tournament Record $1,500,000. Last summer the White Marlin Open awarded $3.9 million dollars which include two separate million dollar winners. This summer, there was a record 4.4 million dollars up for grabs with at least one guaranteed million-dollar prize winner. Because the WM Level started with $1,134,000 it looked as if it were possible the big winner would top our previous record payout of$1,500,000. But to win $2,818,660 wasn’t in the cards.
Somehow, the “Kallianassa” found a better deck. All the stars had to be aligned for Phil Heasley and the “Kallianassa” (both from Naples, FL), to win over 2.3 plus million for catching a marlin. First, they would need to enter all of the white marlin divisions including the $5000 and $10,000 winner take all levels. They could control that part and invested almost $30,000 in their get rich quick scheme. Next, they would have to catch a qualifying white marlin, which they had much less control over and but succeeded by Tuesday. Third, they would have to be the ONLY qualifying white marlin which they had absolutely no control over. They covered their part and fate did the rest. No other white marlin qualified so “Kallianassa” took first, second, and third place money for every white marlin category which equaled more than $2,400,000. But fate had one more surprise. There was one more pool (Level D), that held $460,000 to be divided equally between white marlin and blue marlin winners in Level D. The “Get Reel” wasn’t entered in the Level D division but the “Kallianassa” was. So in addition to the ice cream, syrup and whipped cream, the “Kallianassa” gets the $460,000 cherry on top.
Another record set in in this year’s event was the 236.5-pound bigeye tuna caught by Rich Kosztyu from Hamilton, NJ aboard the Forked River, NJ based “Hubris.” They had already won $400,000 for their top Tuna. What they didn’t count on was money coming from the Level F that was a winner take all division for blue marlin and had $361,000 in the pot. The “Get Reel’s” blue marlin was not entered in that category and the rules say that if no blue marlin qualifies, that money goes to the winning tuna. That happened to be the “Hubris” and the boats total winnings for the top tuna ended up to be a WMO Tournament Record tuna payout of $767,091.
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Texas Legends Billfish Tournament
August 10-14, 2016 Postponed Due To Weather- will fish 17-21, 2016
Results Coming Soon