Waste Knot Wins the 15th Annual VBBT with a 683-Pound Blue Marlin, Five White Marlin Releases
The 15th annual Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament wrapped up Saturday night and closed the chapter on a historic event. A record 80 boats competed this year for a new benchmark $620,000 in prize money. For the first time, two blue marlin were weighed and one of them made a huge difference for the Manteo, North Carolina team, Waste Knot. Angler Ed Groce boated a 683-pound blue and combined with five white marlin releases, gave the team the top score (1,033 points) and the top payout, $282,000.
2018 MidAtlantic Comes to a Close in Record Setting Fashion!
The 2018 MidAtlantic, the 27th edition of sportfishing’s “Main Event,” came to an exciting close last night for the 157 participating boats and crews with award ceremonies featuring lavish buffet dinners and record cash payouts for numerous winners celebrated at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland. The week saw numerous records set once again including a cash purse of well over $3.36 million up for grabs, record single payouts for the top winners in the white marlin and tuna categories and a record number of blue marlin (55) caught and well over 750 white marlin released!
The final day of the 2018 MidAtlantic dawned sunny and clear with a light breeze and full moon in the sky. Once again, a bit of tournament history was set as for the first time in the event’s 27-year history the entire fleet of 157 boats was eligible to fish on the final day. Day Five saw several changes on the leaderboard on what has traditionally been called Moving Day at the MidAtlantic. This event was the first billfish tournament to use the phrase in reference to the major shake-ups which occur on the leaderboard and this year would be no different. Sea conditions improved dramatically from the previous day and the billfish bite continued its scorching pace.
The most significant changes occurred in the white marlin category when Captain Doug Ortlip backed Sean O’Donnell’s Cape May-based Got Game to the scales at Canyon Club in Cape May and weighed a 78-pounder for angler O’Donnell to jump to the top of the leaderboard. O’Donnell and crew later in the evening accepted the winner’s check of $905,408 in Cape May, a record payout for white marlin! Got Game’s 78-pounder pushed Thomas Colquhoun’s Special Situation from Ocean City, Maryland and Justin Branning’s 3’s Enough from Wall, New Jersey, leaders from Day One of the tournament, into a tie for second place as each had weighed white marlin of 73-pounds. 3’s Enough received $293,712 while Special Situation netted $134,006. Worthy of note is the difference in payouts reflects the level of side bets, known as Calcuttas, each participant enters. Another significant change to the leaderboard on Day Five occurred when Captain Paul Robertson weighed a 69-pound white marlin for angler Joey Hurley from their Dayton, Maryland-based FFMD and moved into a tie for third place with Leonard Tallo’s Gusto from Islamorada, Florida. For their efforts Gusto received $169,466 while FFMD netted $141,376.
Draggin’ Up wins the 2018 Texas Billfish Classic!
The 3rd Annual Texas Billfish Billfish Classic (TBC), for the third year in a row, saw growth in participation and a substantial increase in prize money. The TBC fleet released eight Blue Marlin, one White Marlin and six Sailfish while weighing one Blue Marlin. The TBC is one of the fastest growing billfish tournaments in Texas and the only event to allow participants to leave at noon on Thursday and begin fishing right away the same day.
Draggin’ Up, a 74′ Viking from Houston, TX was the only boat to weigh a Blue Marlin on Saturday to claim top honors in the Blue Marlin division. Angler Sam Rasberry 119.5 inch Blue Marlin topped the scales at 514 pounds. “We were having a slow first day with no bites so decided to make a move for second day. We got the bite shortly after 9am,” said Draggin’ Up Captain Kevin Deerman. “We definitely knew the fish was a keeper after second set of jumps and got the gaffs ready. Great tournament and worked out for us betting heavy in the Blue Marlin kill pots!”
In the Catch and Release Division, Bimini Babe a 74’ Viking, took home top honors with three Blue Marlin Releases and one Sailfish, while Tico Time, a 65’ Hatteras released one Blue Marlin and two sailfish finishing in second place. Over-Ride, a 64’ Titan finished in third place releasing one Blue Marlin and edging out High Noon on time. The Bimini Babe Team were also crowned Champions of the Billfish Classic Cup. This new event was developed to reward competitive teams fishing in both the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and the Texas Billfish Classic. Owner Babe Appling, Captain Robert Jones and Team left with an extra $10,000 and custom art to commemorate the big win!
The Tuna category was won by Clark Miller aboard Smoker II with a 93 pound Yellowfin. No stranger to the podium, Kurt Pantle on $ea Dollar$ came in second at 90 pounds followed by Lee Bull on the REHAB at 50 pounds. A nice summer Wahoo raised the bar pretty high as Jasen Gast and the REHAB crew pulled up his 51 pound fish, barely topping the second place fish brought in by Tiger Neal on the Smoker II. Brian Wood, Draggin’ Up, came in third at 29 pounds. The Dolphin category was taken with the only qualifying fish at 23 pounds by Chris Gavlick aboard the REHAB.
The Top Lady Angler was Emma Griffith on Over-Ride and the Top Junior Angler Award was presented to Ethan Middleton on the Change Order.
Official 2019 Texas Billfish Classic Results
1st- 514.0 lbs. Draggin’ Up – Angler Sam Rasberry
Catch and Release
1st – 2,000 pts – Bimini Babe – Captain Robert Jones
2nd – 1,000 pts – Tico Time – Captain Mike Hester
3rd – 600 pts – Over-Ride – Captain Jacob Dawson
1st – 93 lbs – Smoker II – Clark Miller
2nd – 90 lbs – $ea Dollar$ – Kurt Pantle
3rd – 50 lbs – REHAB – Lee Bull
1st – 51 lbs – REHAB – Jasen Gast
2nd – 47 lbs – Smoker II – Tiger Neal
3rd – 29 lbs – Draggin’ Up – Brian Wood
1st – 23 lbs – REHAB – Chris Gavlick
Top Lady Angler
Emma Griffith on the Over-Ride
Top Junior Angler
Ethan Middleton on the Change Order
Two world records were set during the 2018 event. The $2.58 million-dollar payout was the most ever awarded for the catch of a billfish, and the $5.45 million-dollar purse was the most ever paid in any fishing tournament.
The Blue Marlin Category and the $924,936 purse was safely held all week by Joe Rahman from Wanaque, NJ as his 881-pound monster caught Monday aboard the Auspicious out of Palm Beach, FL was never challenged as it was the only qualifying blue marlin weighed the week.
The Tuna Division edged closer to anointing the first million-dollar tuna as Gary Sansburry from Hobe Sound, FL won $904,851 while fishing off the Buckshot out of Ocean City, MD. The 75.5-pound tuna was the biggest of a close group that split up the rest of the tuna purse of $1,300,000. The Blinky IV out of Freeport, MA was second with a 73.5-pound tuna weighed by angler Charles Matattal from Blackstone, Massachusetts good for $135,421. The Brass Monkey and Jake Pilkerton all from Leonardtown, MD did well with the 71-pound tuna caught on the first fishing day. It took the 3rd place tuna money and the top small boat tuna money good for a total of $215,916.
The Wahoo Division also saw a big winner come in today when Kevin Graybill of Morgantown, PA weighed a 63-pounder while fishing aboard the Over Board out of Ocean City, MD. The wahoo took 1st place money and, parleyed with winning the Small Boat Big Fish category gave Graybill a total of $115,271. The other wahoo money went to the Desperado from Virginia Beach, VA with $1,846, and the Canyon Hunter from Indian River, DE with $21,471.
Dolphin provided action all week with the top winners: Fin-Nominal from Indian River, DE – $19,464, Rigged Up from Manteo, NC – $18,646, the Moxie Boys from Ocean City, MD $16,646, the Sea Note out of Oregon Inlet, NC and the local Bonnie Lynn each took $15,300.
When most think of the White Marlin Open, they think of the excitement at the scales, the million-dollar winners, and energy of the crowds at the “World’s Largest & Richest Billfishing Tournament.” While that show plays out on the Big Stage at Harbour Island, the true test of man, machine and crew takes place out of the spotlight or the streaming lenses. The best anglers and crew aren’t necessarily measured by the money won or by the largest fish caught but buy the skills needed to catch and release the most fish.
This division is won by skill and teamwork and the sheer love of the sport. The exceptional white marlin fishing found off Ocean City, Md provides a great venue to compete against some of the best saltwater sports fisherman in the world.
The great fishing during the 2018 event created intense competition for the release divisions and the abundance of blue marlin tilted the advantage for those lucky enough to add blue marlin release points to their totals.
The Top Boats in the Release division were also the Top Release Boats for 2018 WMO.
The Viking 72 out of New Gretna, NJ topped all comers with 10 white marlin and 1 blue marlin released good for 875 points. The Billfisher was second with 12 released white marlin for 840 points. The Fin Planner from Oregon Inlet, NC had 11 white marlin releases good for 770 points. Uno Mas from Ft Lauderdale, Fl and Special Station from Palm Beach, FL each had 8 white marlin and 1 blue marlin release for 735 points.
The individual Top Angler awards are based on billfish points accumulated over the 5-day event. The Top Individual Anglers in the 2018 White Marlin Open are:
Ron Kawaja on the Fin Planner with 8 white marlin releases for 560 points. 2nd was Joe Rahman from Wanaque, NJ, 3 white marlin release and a 881-pound blue marlin boated for a total of 503 points while fishing aboard Auspicious out of Palm Beach, FL. Greg Lentz aboard the Trust Me Too had 3 whites, a blue marlin and a spearfish release for 455 points and Lawrence Julio fishing aboard Ocean City’s Rhonda’s Osprey also earned 455 points with 3 whites, a blue and a spearfish release.
*How does the prize money awarded in the White Marlin Open stack up against top individual awards paid in other major sporting events? The comparisons show that the White Marlin Open payouts do very well as they top almost every other professional sport in the world.
The individual award of $2.58 million dollars paid to Pascual Jimenez for his winning 83-pound white marlin was more money than was paid the winner of the 2018 Master’s Golf Championship, ($1.98 million), the 2018 U.S. Open Golf Championship, ($2.16 million) or any other major golf championship in history.*
The 2018 Kentucky Derby paid future Triple Crown Winner “Justify” $1.24 million for winning this year’s Derby. 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods presented 2018 winner Jordan Lee the top of $300,000 for winning their top event. The few events that do pay more than the WMO top prize are Wimbledon and U.S. Open Tennis that are paying $2.96 million to the single’s men’s and women’s champion.
Full Leaderboard Results: www.whitemarlinopen.com
Owner: Ben Heilker
Captain: Ray Dunn
Top Captain Award: Captain Ray Dunn
Top Mate Award: Mathew Grimes
Load & Go
Owner: Tom Herrlich
Captain: Monte Love
Owner: George McMahon
Captain: Ray Peterson
Wayne Timmermann Memorial Top Angler Award: Andy Lack (Mechanical Man)
Top Female Angler: Julie Coulter (Deez Nautz)
Top Junior Angler: Mack Watson (Fool’s Gold)
Owner: Ben Heilker
Captain: Ray Peterson
Load & Go
Owner: Tom Herrlich
Captain: Monte Love
Owner: Centurion, LLC
Captain: James Rae
615 lb Blue Marlin
Angler: George McMahon
478.5 lb Blue Marlin
Angler: Trevor Lott
472 lb Blue Marlin
Angler: Taylor Savage
147.5 lb Tuna
Angler: David Denbow
107 lb Tuna
Angler: Josh Jones
102 lb Tuna
Angler: John Pasentine
The Hatteras Village Offshore Open, Orange Beach Billfish Classic, and Production vs. Custom Shootout are all InTheBite Sanctioned Tournaments that finished up this past weekend (May 15-20). Here is a look at the final results.. Congratulations to all the winners!
Winner Capt. Bull Tolson on Sea Toy: 1st Place – Levels I, II & IV and total of 800 pts.
Winners: Captain Jason Buck and Angler Katie Gonsoulin on the Done Deal with a 740.6lb Blue Marlin.
Production Vs. Custom Shootout-
Winner Capt. Ricky Spikes of Free Spool, a 62′ Viking – With 6 Blue Marlin and total of 2400 pts.
Congratulations Capt. Kevin Dunn and the Ragin Cajun crew, winners of the 2018 Viking Key West Challenge.
Leg three featured 43 boats. For the third leg, the Gunsmoke (3800 points) out dueled the Geaux Fly (3700), catching the winning sailfish with 20 minutes of fishing remaining. The Geaux Fly’s second place finish was highlighted by a grandslam on day two– a black, two blues and a pair of sails. The Jaruco, the new 90′ Jarrett Bay, rounded out the top three with 2800 points.
Leg three also decided the Triple Crown winner for 2018. With all said and done, it was Tarheel (10,600 points) with Captain John Bayliss taking home top honors. The Agitator and Capt. Jon Duffie, 2016 and 2017 series champions, fell a sail and a marlin short of a third straight crown, with 10,100 points. Geaux Fly wins third place honors in the series with 10,000 even.
InTheBite congratulates the winners. Please enjoy the following photos and videos from the 2018 Triple Crown.