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.
The 46th White Marlin Open can be considered the most successful tournament yet for a number of reasons: 404 boats fishing for a World Record $6,186,870 in prize money is a good start. The red hot billfishing set a tournament record for the number of billfish caught and released. The prize money paid included two anglers that each won over $1,500,000, a blue marlin won $962,165, a tuna that took $935,915, a dolphin that won $74,900, and a shark that won $231,300. [Read more…]
Middle Canyons Hot and Cape May is Ideal Location!
You could run out of adjectives describing the current billfish bite along the canyons off the mid-Atlantic coast but safe to say “it doesn’t get much better then this!” A combination of cobalt blue water, abundant schools of forage species and ideal weather have produced incredible action with white marlin and blue marlin for those making the run offshore. And, with the 2019 MidAtlantic tournament just days away, this world-class bite couldn’t happen at a better time! That’s right! We’re just a few days away from sportfishing’s “Main Event” on the tournament calendar and preparation for this year’s event has reached a feverish pace. Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey put the Mid in MidAtlantic and, as always, will be “home base” for the tournament which is set for its annual run the week of August 18-23. At Canyon Club Resort Marina participants are right smack in the middle of the action enjoying the best access to the fish whether running north to the Hudson Canyon or south to the Norfolk Canyon as well as every canyon in between! In fact, during the recent White Marlin Open, Ed Russo garnered the Top Angler award for the tournament among a field of over 2000 anglers and 400 boats with 17 white marlin released and his boat, Big Deal, won the prestigious Top Boat award for 28 white marlin released during three days of fishing including 15 in one day while sailing from Canyon Club Resort Marina for the event!
Tournament entries have been flowing in at a steady pace and while Canyon Club Resort Marina is filling up, some slips are still available for vessels of various sizes. Join the tournament fleet at Canyon Club Resort Marina along with many of the MidAtlantic’s previous winners who sail from Cape May each year. Besides a world class marina that offers all the amenities to pamper tournament participants, family, crew and friends during the best week on the tournament calendar, you’ll also be at the tournament’s epicenter with access to the “Big Top” tent which includes the “Sponsors Midway” where you’ll find the latest in gear and services offered by MidAtlantic exhibiting sponsors. For dockage information and slip reservations give Paul Hoffman a call at 609-884-0199.
The tournament’s base entry fee of $3000 includes all dockside social activities for up to six people. Proceeds from ten optional calcuttas with fees ranging from $1000 to $6000 provide the prize money for the tournament. Last year well over $3 million was paid out and the MidAtlantic continues to be, boat-for-boat, the richest big gamefishing tournament in the world. The event’s prize structure provides numerous big payouts each year and last year eight winners walked off the awards podium with checks greater than six figures while eight others won $25,000 or more!
Participants will select three days to fish during the week of August 19-23 with cash prizes awarded in various ways for white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, dolphin and wahoo weighed as well as billfish released. Minimum weights are 65 pounds for white marlin, 400 pounds for blue marlin and 50 pounds for tuna (big eye, yellowfin or true albacore) to win cash. All boats must fish within 125 miles of the Cape May Sea Buoy regardless of sailing port.
The MidAtlantic gets underway on Sunday, August 18 when late registration, calcutta entries and a cocktail reception will take place from 1 – 4:30 p.m. at Canyon Club Resort Marina and the event’s only satellite venue, Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland. For your convenience registration can also be completed online prior to the tournament at www.themidatlantic.com. You’ll also find complete rules, schedule, calcutta information, points and prize breakdowns and a link to purchase 2019 tournament apparel. For additional tournament information contact Tournament Director Aaron Hoffman at 609-884-0177. Be sure to follow the action via the South Jersey Tournaments App which can be downloaded for free on any IOS or Android device from the Apple App and Google Play stores. Additionally, follow the tournament on Facebook at The MidAtlantic Tournament; on Twitter; @midatl and on Instagram; @themidatlantictournament.
It’s the 2019 MidAtlantic! It’s only a few days away and it’s gonna be another dandy! Come join the fun and perhaps you’ll have the opportunity to join the winners on the podium and be in a photo with a big check!
46tTH ANNUAL WHITE MARLIN OPEN – This is the BIGGEST one yet! There’s a total of 404 boats entered and over $6.1 MILLION in prize money.
World’s Largest & Richest Billfish Tournament
DAY 4 –
Scales just opened up and there’s a new front runner! Fish Whistle with a 79.5 white marlin caught by angler Tom Hinkle. Worth approx 1.4m Let’s see what comes in next!
New Small Boat Tuna Leader!
UPDATED: High Court Confirms White Marlin Open Decision, Ruling ‘No Reversible Error’ Found
As seen in The Dispatch by Shawn Soper
OCEAN CITY — After nearly two years with $2.8 million prize money hanging in limbo, a federal appeals court on Wednesday essentially ruled in favor of the White Marlin Open and the winners in several other categories who stand to gain from the redistribution plan.
Last June, a U.S. District Court judge sided with the White Marlin Open (WMO) and the other named plaintiffs in a federal interpleader case against the supposed winner of the glamorous white marlin division in 2016. During that tournament, angler Phil Heasley and the Kalliannasa out of Naples, Fla. caught the only qualifying white marlin, a 76.5-pounder, and was symbolically awarded a tournament-record $2.8 million.
However, concerns over tournament rule infractions regarding the time of catch and subsequent deceptive polygraph examinations by Heasley and the Kallianassa crew landed the case first in Worcester County Circuit Court and later in U.S. District Court. Last June, after 10 months of legal wrangling and an eight-day trial, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Bennett ruled Heasley and the Kallianassa crew should be disqualified because of the confirmed rules violations and failed polygraph exams and the $2.8 million top prize should be distributed to the other cash winners.
Heasley and the Kallianassa crew then appealed the U.S. District Court ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals Fourth District seeking to overturn the lower court’s ruling and award the $2.8 million in prize money to them in the 2016 event. However, the U.S. Court of Special Appeals on Wednesday issued a ruling in favor of the WMO and the other named plaintiffs, essentially ending the appeal at that level and bringing closure to the long-standing legal battle.
“We have reviewed the record and find no reversible error,” the opinion reads. “Accordingly, we affirm for the reasons stated by the district court. We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before this court and argument would not aid the decisional process. In accordance with the decision of this court, the judgement of the district court is affirmed.”
White Marlin Open officials on Wednesday praised the appeals court’s ruling and expressed pleasure in being able to move on from the protracted legal battle and gain some closure moving forward.
“We have remained confident in Judge Bennett’s ruling regarding the 2016 White Marlin Open tournament results and we are glad that his decision was upheld,” said WMO officials in a statement. “We’re excited to put the 2016 tournament behind us and are looking forward to our 45th annual tournament this year which will be held Aug. 6th through Aug. 10th. This year’s event will be one for the record books, as we’re expecting our biggest payout to date of more than $5 million to this year’s winners.”
Heasley’s appeal focused on two key areas of the district court’s ruling including the assumption the Kallianassa put fishing lines in the water prior to the official 8:30 a.m. start time. Another area of focus in the appeal asserts the court made its ruling largely on the post-tournament polygraph tests, which are generally not admissible in federal court because they are often unreliable.
In terms of the timing of the catch, the district court opinion was clear the evidence, largely in the form of data collected from the Kallianassa’s sophisticated computer and GPS equipment illustrated the boat could not have had it lines in the water after 8:30 a.m. per tournament rules and have fought and boated the 76-pound-plus white marlin by 8:58 a.m., or a difference of about 28 minutes.
Heasley and the Kallianassa crew contended the vessel’s onboard computers and GPS systems and even pictures of the winning fish taken with the captain’s cell phone clearly illustrate the marlin was caught within the time constraints spelled out in the rules. The defendants alleged the Kallianassa’s computer systems show the boat did not leave the dock until 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 9 and traveled at cruising speed from 4:40 a.m. to at least 8:04 a.m. when it reached the fishing grounds 80 miles offshore. The onboard computers track “waypoints,” or plots on a chart, that appear to show the Kallianassa began maneuvering consistent with fighting a fish at 8:50 a.m. and the maneuvering stopped at 8:58 a.m. when the winning white marlin was allegedly boated. The captain’s cell phone pictures of the winning white were taken at 9:05 a.m.
Heasley’s appeal also went into great detail about the judge’s reliance on the post-tournament polygraph exams. Per tournament rules, any angler who catches a fish earning more than $50,000 in prize money is subjected to polygraph examinations.
In this case, Heasley and the Kallianassa crew were reportedly deceptive on their answers during the initial polygraph exams and subsequent exams, but the appeal asserted the entire process was flawed. For example, it was pointed out the polygraph exams used were different than those spelled out in the tournament rules, one lie-detector administrator admitted he was not familiar with WMO or International Game Fish Association (IGFA) rules and asked questions so broad that they did not even apply to catching a winning fish.
Nonetheless, the U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday essentially ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and upheld the district court’s ruling in the case. As a result, the 2016 WMO prize money totaling $2.8 million will now likely be distributed to the winners in several other categories.
Following the district court’s ruling last summer, the WMO and the winners in all of the other 2016 tournament categories submitted a final status report outlining the division of the attorney fees and other expenses involved in litigating the case and the proposed distribution of the $2.8 million in prize money. Essentially, the other plaintiffs, or the winners in other categories, agreed to pay $340,000 of the WMO’s cost to litigate the case, with the lion’s share paid by the plaintiffs who stand to gain the most from the trial outcome.
For example, the first-place tuna, a 236-pounder caught by angler Richard Kosztyu aboard the Hubris, has essentially agreed to pay a $287,000 contribution to the WMO’s legal fees associated with the case. However, Kosztyu and the Hubris stand to gain the most from the redistribution of the prize money. The Hubris already received $767,000 for the first-place tuna, but with the anticipated $2.025 million more in redistributed prize money, Kosztyu and the Hubris crew now stand to win roughly $2.8 million for the first-place tuna.
Angler Jim Conway on the Get Reel, who caught the first-place blue marlin, a 790-pounder, already received $259,000 in prize money and is expected to receive $233,000 more, bringing its total for the first-place blue marlin to $492,000.
Angler Mark Hutchinson on the Magic Moment also contributed a significant amount to the legal fees associated with litigating the case at $17,447. However, the Magic Moment crew already received $132,000 for the second-place tuna, a 233-pounder, and is expected to receive $123,000 more, for a new total prize of $255,000.
The next biggest agreed-upon contributions to the legal fees among the remaining plaintiffs come from the two anglers and boats that tied for third-place in the tuna division. Angler Pat Horning and the Fish Whistle crew and angler David Arnold and the crew on the American Lady each tied for third in the tuna division with 71-pounders and each will contribute $5,859 to the legal fees under the final status report.
However, each stands to gain a significant amount of prize money from the final settlement. For example, the Fish Whistle was initially awarded $5,626 in prize money, but it will receive $41,330 more according to the status report, bringing its total to $46,956. The American Lady was awarded $52,126 initially, but with its additional $41,330, its total prize jumps to $93,456.
For the remaining eight place-winners in various categories, their contributions to the legal fees were very small by comparison at around $264 each, but their share of the redistributed prize money is equally small at $1,861 each, which does not significantly impact their total prize after redistribution.
The Dream Catcher, a 60’ Paul Mann, sank in 2006. The vessel was a near total loss. In most cases, the story would end here. Insert Captain Steven Pilipauskas and his search for a vessel project. A captain based in Maryland, Pilipauskas happened upon the old Dream Catcher for sale online. He purchased the hull in June 2013. At this point, the story transforms from one of tragedy to one of rebirth. It is the story of the Reel Tight.
Steve, together with his father, Steven Pilipauskas Sr. and friends Justin Havard and David Pearl, set about transforming the old hull into her former glory. “When we bought it, the boat needed everything. It had nothing; no wiring, no motors… nothing,” Pilipauskas describes. The boat had been completely underwater and none of the original equipment was salvageable.
The father and son Pilipauskas and a few friends did all the work themselves. These pictures provide visual evidence of the transformation. Soon the barebones hull was ready for action.
After months of labor on the hard, the boat was ready for action. The maiden voyage of the ship’s new life took place on Labor Day of 2015. As Pilipauskas points out, “The inside wasn’t done but we wanted fish.” Their first catch: a blue marlin.
After fishing the last six weeks of the season out of Ocean City, Maryland, the boat returned landward for additional work. “We did quite a bit of interior work—the salon, etc.—last winter. Weaver Boatworks helped with the headliner,” Pilipauskas describes.
Last month the Reel Tight came full circle. With Pilipauskas at the helm, the boat caught seven white marlin and a 64-pound yellowfin tuna in the White Marlin Open.
Today the Reel Tight is a private boat that runs a few charters. Her immediate future lies in Ocean City, Maryland though Pilipauskas hints of the possibility of a voyage south once the boat is complete. “We’ve got another year and a half or so before it’s completely finished.” When asked where he acquired the know-how to undertake such a daunting overhaul, his answer was immediate. “My dad is the brains of the operation when it comes to the construction and boat work aspects. I just handle the fishing…”
Final Results! Congrats to all the teams and crews.
Here is the final leaderboard.
Final Catch and Release Winners
ons WBOC 16 News 3.87 Million Dollars Prize Money for 2015
Day 1- 294 boats fishing today.
The 42nd annual White Marlin Open kicked off in Ocean City on Monday morning. The competition is said to be the largest bill fish tournament in the world.
This year, 306 sports fishing boats and more than 1,500 anglers from around the country have registered for the tournament and will vie for a combined total of more than $3 million in prize money. Anglers fish for white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, dolphin, mahi-mahi (dolphin fish), wahoo and shark. Cash prizes are also awarded for billfish releases.
Many anglers spent the weekend in Ocean City preparing for the event. One of those anglers, Jim Boner of Newtown Square, Pa., said the White Marlin Open is a regular event for him and for several reasons.
“The community of fishing, the great show they put on up at Sunset Marina, as well as the weigh-ins every day,” he said. “And sometimes we get to catch big fish or a lot of fish.”
The competition will end Aug 7 with weigh-ins every day from 4-9 p.m. at Harbour Island Marina, 14th Street and the bay.
For more information about the event, visit www.whitemarlinopen.com or call (410) 289-9229.
If the White Marlin Open Website is having technical difficulties visit WMO Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WhiteMarlinOpenTournament