Most all Texas crews have been focused on yard work or hunting, but there has been an incredible yellowfin tuna bite for the fishermen that have found the time to venture out. After the numerous storms that came ashore in the Gulf this fall, we experienced an abundance of green/freshwater that covered a large portion of the fishing grounds off the Texas coast and lingered for a couple months. Fortunately, there were a few spar rigs and drill ships farther offshore that produced plenty of large yellowfin through the end of the year.
January 16, 2021—Check out the gallery of some of the finest sportfishing teams returning to Palm Beach inlet. Most of the vessels are competing in the Operation Sailfish tournament. Scroll to the bottom for a new video showcasing the incredible speed of these modern-day machines as they return from the competition.
OCEAN CITY, MARYLAND – May 27, 2020 — The White Marlin Open, an offshore billfish tournament held in Ocean City, today announces plans for its upcoming 47th annual tournament to be held August 3 through August 7. The tournament will follow local and state guidelines for crowd size, which have yet to be determined.
Awarding more than $77 million in prizes to date, The White Marlin Open expects to give out more than $6.5 million to this year’s tournament winners, topping not only the record $6.1 million payout from 2019 but also almost every other professional sports payout in the world. Prizes are awarded for catches of white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, dolphin, and shark, as well as most release points by boat and daily catches of wahoo, tuna wand dolphin.
“We are excited to announce that the White Marlin Open will go on this year. A record boat turnout is expected, as people are ready for sports to return and anglers are anxious to get back out on the water, especially as fuel prices are drastically lower than last year,” said Jim Motsko, Founder of the White Marlin Open tournament.
“The main impact we’ll see due to state and local guidelines for social distancing is around spectators viewing the weigh-ins, however nothing about the fishing experience will be altered,” added Tournament Directors. “Our goal is to share the tournament experience as best we can–especially the weigh-ins–in the safest manner possible so that families can continue to enjoy Tournament Week here in Ocean City.”
The 2020 White Marlin Open will feature a new category, Level Pay Day:
The total purse will be divided by five days. Each day’s purse will be split evenly among those winning first, second or third place white marlin, blue marlin and tuna that day. If there are no winners for a particular day, the un-won prize money will be split evenly among the purses of the other days.
Boats can save $350 on the basic entry fee by registering before June 1. Participating boats can depart from anywhere within the 100 nautical mile limit fishing boundary. As a result, boats do not have to leave from the Ocean City Inlet to participate and can depart from as north as Barnegat, NJ and Cape May Inlet, all the way south to Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center. Additionally, smaller boats may compete against the whole fleet or enter categories limited to boats under 40 feet.
The White Marlin Open 2020 tournament is presented by Pure Lure. Sponsors include Rick Bogert Marine Art, Park Place Jewelers, Pelagic, Maryland Live Casino, Bank of Ocean City, Okiaya Chesapeake Urology, Boston Scientific, Under Armour, HUK, Yacht World, South Jersey Yacht Sales, Miller Lite, Mid Shore Electronics, Clarion, Viking, Ocean Ready, Garmin, Sunset Marina, Jarrett Bay, Chesapeake Whalertowne,
Travelers Insurance, Christi Insurance, WB Diesel/Johnson & Towers, Big Game Fishing Journal, Fish Unlimited, Bevanda, Bayliss Boatworks, Spencer Yacht Brokerage/Spencer Yacht Sales, Fin & Field, Atlantic Tackle, Phillips Seafood Restaurants, Phillips Beach Plaza Hotel, Harborside Bar & Grill, Baitmasters of South Florida Cummins Power Systems, Seacrets, and Bad Monkey.
About White Marlin Open
The White Marlin Open is a 47-year-old offshore fishing tournament held annually in Ocean City, Maryland. The tournament awards prize money for catches of white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, dolphin, and shark. Long known as “World’s Largest Billfishing Tournament,” the White Marlin Open (WMO) has awarded over $77 million dollars since 1974 to the lucky winners among more than 105,000 anglers aboard over 14,000 registered boats. Along the way, the WMO became the largest billfish tournament and holds the world record for prize money payouts for any type of fishing tournament. To learn more, please visit https://whitemarlinopen.com.
Do you have any comments or questions for us? We’d love to hear from you.
During a two-day fishing trip out of Port Aransas, Texas, the Quantified team —Wills Scott group out of Beaumont, Texas — reeled in a massive haul. All were standup except the swordfish. This was the first trip on Quantified. Justin Drummond was captain with mate DA Hughes III.
During a two-day fishing trip out of Port Aransas, Texas, the Quantified team —Wills Scott group out of Beaumont, Texas — reeled in a massive haul. All were standup except the swordfish. This was the first trip on Quantified. Justin Drummond was captain with mate DA Hughes III. 3 blues one over 500 lbs. 150 lb. swordfish 1 sail 2 blue fin one 500 lbs. one estimated at rouhgly 750 lbs. Pile of yellowfin 2 wahoo 1 mahi
By Elliott Stark
Captain Marty Lewis and his wife Katie own and operate Main Attraction Charters out of Key Colony Beach, Florida. With five working charter boats, the Lewises are no stranger to the waters of the Lower Keys. It was this experience and familiarity that led to a hunch that turned into what may have been the best day of sailfishing in the history of the Florida Keys. On Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, Captain Marty Lewis and the crew of the Main One, a 49’ Cape Fear, released a Keys’ record 70 sails.
Here’s how it happened.
“I took my wife and daughter out tuna fishing on Saturday off of Marathon. It was a slick calm day but I could see that the Gulf Stream was running in close. I knew that the next day might be a good day to go sailfishing but it was Easter Sunday. I asked my wife if I could go and she gave me hall pass to go fishing,” Lewis explains with a bit of a laugh.
Upon returning to the dock after fishing Lewis’ mate, Digger Rodamer, sent out a group text to round up a crew for the following day. The next day, Digger, Shelby Bentley, Aaron “Nautical” Sutcliffe, Steve Fitzgerald and Joe Marino joined Marty to head offshore. Loaded up with 800 or 1,000 live pilchards the crew departed the dock at Key Colony Beach Marina at 7:00.
They started fishing about 25 miles west of Marathon. Captain Marty found what he was looking for—the spot where the Gulf Stream tucked in—off of the American Shoal near Big Pine Key. “Every fish we caught was tailing. We cast live pilchards to them. There was no kite fishing or trolling. We probably saw 100 fish on the day, but we couldn’t get to all of them. Almost all of those that we cast a bait to ate—only two or three turned away. There was no pressure on them, we only saw two or three other boats out,” Lewis describes.
Lewis and company caught their first fish at 10:00. Forty minutes later the tally was up to six. “We had a steady stream of groups of fish passing through most of the day. There were two rallies when we’d have a guy hooked up on the bow and a guy fighting one at the stern and then we’d hook others. One time we had a guy fighting a fish for an hour. We must have caught eight or ten fish while he was fighting his.”
By 3:15 pm the tally eclipsed 40. By 5:00 the total was 60 and the crew realized they had a shot a breaking the Keys’ record of 65 sailfish releases in a day. Lewis kept a running tally with his wife Katie over text message. The final text came through at 6:35—“70 and done.”
It was a record breaking day for the veteran charter captain and a group of his buddies. Captain Marty spent the day in the tower directing his guys where to cast as sailfish tailed into range. The fish were caught on Mustad ultra point 6/0 circle hooks using 30 and 40 pound leader. All of the fish were caught slinging live pilchards to tailers on Penn spinning outfits.
News of the epic day brought led 30 or 40 boats to fish the area the next day. While Capt. Marty decided to take Monday off (after all he wasn’t going to catch 70 again) the bite continued for the next couple of days. Monday produced 46 releases followed by 30 on Tuesday. The hot streak produced an incredible 146 sails over three consecutive days for Main Attraction Sportfishing Charters.
To book a day with Marty and the Main Attraction Charters, visit them at: www.mainattraction.org or give them a call at: 305.289.0071
Krazy Salts — Capt. Keith Greenberg
By Elliott Stark
In a very direct sense, the pending new Texas state record bluefin tuna was a victim of the coronavirus.
Whether or not fish can actually catch this disease, who the hell knows, but the trip that resulted in greasing the biggest bluefin in the history of the Lone Star State was the result of being cooped up in the house awaiting the virus to run its course. Captain Robert Nichols, who runs the Rock Mama, a 55’ Hatteras based out of Galveston, Texas was gracious enough to tell us all about this fish of a lifetime.
Boat owner, and the man who reeled in the fish, Daniel Miers asked Nichols if he could round up a crew to take advantage of the weather window that presented the opportunity to get offshore and out of the house for a while. On the boat were Miers, his son Jacob, Capt. Robert Nichols and his two brothers Derek and Scotty. “We left out of Freeport Tuesday evening and slowboated about 100 miles to the Nansen Rig,” Nichols says.
“I talked to Capt. Troy Day. He had caught two blue marlin the day before but was heading home. Captain John Cochrane killed a bluefin that went 599 at Nansen too, so we were pretty excited. We planned to live bait for blue marlin.”
After getting a bit of sleep, the crew filled their tuna tubes at 4:30 am in the lights of the rig. “We put the baits out at 6:45. At about 7:00 there was an explosion. It’s hard to describe, but it looked like a 400 or 500-pound cannonball blew up in the water. There was a drill ship out at Nansen and we hooked the fish off of the bow of the drill ship.”
“We backed down a total of seven miles during the fight. When we were about four miles away from the rig, the tuna took a big run. The next thing you know, I looked down off the port side of the boat and there was a school of giant bluefin swimming and jumping around the surface of the water. We were surrounded by big tuna. I think the fish tried to join up with the school even though it was hooked.”
“My boss, Daniel Miers, hooked the fish and fought in the chair the whole time. We fought the fish for about six hours and 40 minutes. It was a pretty incredible feat. I think the whole time he might have had a few bites of kolache (a really great type of breakfast pastry) and three or four bottles of water—and that’s it. He hooked the fish himself.”
“My brothers, Derek and Scotty Nichols (who are also captains themselves) gaffed the fish. We gaffed it the first time we got him on the leader. We caught the fish on an 80 wide with 200-pound leader. The leader was light because we were fishing for blue marlin…”
“Ryan Doxey had to swim over from another boat to help us get the fish in the boat. We used the anchor windlass to help get the fish on board. We couldn’t have done it with just manpower. I removed the anchor and the chain and ran the anchor line around the boat and tied to the fish. As they were pulling, they yell up and I’d put it in gear.”
The fish weighed 820 pounds. It was 114 inches long with a girth of 80 inches.
“We got it on board but it was too big to keep fishing so we headed home even though the fishing was lights out.”
Nichols, Miers and company weighed the fish at Galveston’s Pelican Rest Marina.
Congratulations from InTheBite on the fish of a lifetime. The previous Texas state record bluefin mark was set in the 1980s.
Check out our gallery of more recent tuna catches:
Any comments or questions please feel free to ask us. Thanks in advance from InTheBite staff