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.
As impressive as the payouts were, equally remarkable was the huge number of marlin caught & released. By definition nobody saw them at the scales, but the release flags flew all week. The tournament record was 1,358 whites caught in 2016 but the anglers toped that by over 100 fish. The final count was 1,459 whites caught with 1,429 released with the top release boat, “Big Deal” out of Brielle, NJ breaking a 39-year-old record for most billfish releases by boat. The previous record was 26 white taken by the “Escapade” in 1980. In addition to the white marlin, the boats took 47 blue marlin with 46 released, and 13 sailfish were released as were the 2 spearfish caught. The total number of all billfish caught in the 46th Open was a staggering 1,521.
In the money divisions, basically, the big fish in most categories on Thursday held their spots after the last day of fishing. Ocean City, Maryland native Tommy Hinkle weighed a 79.5-pound white marlin on Thursday while fishing aboard the “Fish Whistle out of Indian River DE. The fish took 1st place and netted Tommy $1,504,720. Hinkle had also won the top white marlin in 2008 making Tommy the first angler in tournament history to win the top white marlin twice! The “Backlash” out of VA Beach, VA kept their $1,502,450 for the 73.5-pound white caught on Monday by angler Michael Wagner from La Plata, MD. “Chasing Tails” with angler Nate Walker, both from VA Beach, VA caught their 74-pound white on Monday and earned $135,000 (they were entered in fewer added entry levels than Backlash).
The 465.5-pound blue marlin caught on Tuesday by Craig Dickerson from Pasadena, MD aboard the “Haulin N Ballin” out of Ocean City, MD was the only qualifier in that division and Dickerson won $962,165 for his blue.
The “Crisdel” out of Ocean City, MD weighed in a 201-pound bigeye caught by Russell Garufi from Bishopville, MD on Monday and stayed in first the whole week to kept $935,915. The
“Seakeeper” from Wilmington, DE weighed a 150.5-pound Allison tuna on Friday. The angler was Andrew Semprevivo from Mystic Island, NJ who took 2nd place and won $135,432 for his efforts. Ocean City native Ronnie Fields weighed a 145.5-pound tuna off the “Mjolnir” out of Bay Point, FL on Tuesday and held on to win $128,675.
The 277.5-pound mako shark caught Monday by Greg Robinson aboard the “Polarizer” out of OC, MD was the only shark weighed and held onto $231,300 won from the “Big Fish” pool.
The “Give It Away” out of Jupiter FL took over 1st place in the wahoo division with a monster 91-pound fish caught by Anne Aramandia from New Braufels, TX who won $24,475. Other winners in the wahoo division were the “The Natural,” who won $23,475, “Keepin It Reel” who won $20,475 and the “Nighthawk” out of Brielle, NJ with angler Jay Monteverdi, also from Brielle who won $20,475.
The big winner in the dolphin division was the “Miss-Tress” out of Brielle, NJ with Randy Drozd also from Brielle. The “Miss-Tress” was in the small boat dolphin division and the 38-pound dolphin weighed on Friday won $74,900. The 1st place 41-pounder taken off the “Playmate” out of OC, MD won $20,380 while the 2nd place dolphin was caught off the Stewart, FL boat
“Irene”. Angler Frank Sinito form Jupiter, FL won just $3,000 as the boat was not entered in extra added skill levels.
In the Small Boat Division, it was Tommy Hinkle with the top white which helped his winnings grow to $1,504,720. The heavy fish was taken by the “Reeldiculous” angler Graham Ward who caught a 121-pound yellowfin good for $108,000.
Top Release Anglers
White Marlin Open Grand Champion
Ed Russo from Carlstadt, NJ
Fishing on “Big Deal” out of Brielle, NJ
1,190 points, 17 white marlin released
2nd Place Angler
Robert Wedeking from Princeton, NJ
Fishing on “Override” out of Brielle, NJ
910 points, 13 white marlin released
3rd Place Angler
Victor Roof, Jr.
Fishing on “Game On” out of Charleston, SC
875 points, 10 white marlin and 1 blue marlin released
4th Place Angler
Nicholas Rodriguez from Dover, DE
Fishing on “Par Five” out of Dover, DE
735 points, 8 white marlin and 1 blue marlin released
5th Place Angler
Dante Rodriguez from Egg Harbor, NJ
Fishing on “MJs” out of Cape May, NJ
735 points, 8 white marlin and 1 blue marlin released
Top Release Boats
1st Place Boat
“Big Deal” out of Brielle, NJ
1,960 points, 27 white marlin released*
2nd Place Boat
“Uno Mas” out of Ocean City, MD
1,785 points, 23 white marlin and 1 blue marlin released
3rd Place Boat
“Tar Heel” out of Wanchese, NC
1,750 points, 25 white marlin released
* Broke a 39-year-old Tournament Record for most release points by a boat. The previous record was 1,949 billfish pts. by the “Escapade “ in 1980 which consisted of 24 white marlin released and 2 boated. The “Big Deal” out of Brielle, NJ caught and released 27 white marlin to earn the WMO top release boat ever.
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!
It was a rainy day at the scale but the fish don’t care! There were several dolphin weighed, with HELLSEA bringing in the heaviest at 22 pounds which took the Daily Dolphin category and $16,000. A 54.5 pound wahoo caught aboard the Nighthawk III took the Daily Wahoo category and will make some delicious dinners. The big story of the day was the 121 pound tuna caught by Graham Ward on Reeldiculous. It is the new leader in the Small Boat Tuna category and took the Daily Tuna prize. It is currently worth $100,000. Check out all of the live action tomorrow streaming live on the MarlinCam!
DAY 1 –
Day 1 Leaderboard:
8/5/19, Chasin Tail, Nathan Walker, 74, $1,450,000.00
8/5/19, Reel Chaos, Brandon Dick-Giordano, 70, $1,500,000.00
8/5/19, Crisdel, Russell Garufi, 201, $940,000.00
8/5/19, Theresa Jean, Chuck Metz, 101, $88,000.00
8/5/19, BAR South, Rob Gothier, 77.5, $36,000.00
8/5/19, Eastbound, Billy Fox, 69, $66,000.00
8/5/19, Priceless, Sean Garry, 64.5, $98,000.00
8/5/19, Game Changer, Rob Howes, 35.5, $18,000.00
8/5/19, Ditchdigger Too, John Albanese III, 30.5, $1,500.00
8/5/19, Top Notch, Jim Kwortnik, 27, $1,000.00
8/5/19, Heatwave, Brett Clarence, 26.5, $75,000.00
8/5/19, The Natural, Kyle McLaughlin, 82, $18,000.00
8/5/19, Caneelin, Sarah Bohlman, 54.5, $2,000.00
8/5/19 Sweetums, Terry Dorris, 50.5, $1,500.00
8/5/19, Polarizer, Greg Robinson, 277.5, $225,000.00
Team Reel Steel, this year’s Bermuda Triple Crown winner, was dominating throughout the three Bermuda Triple Crown tournaments, scoring 6,600 points from 12 blue marlin and three white marlin releases during nine days of fishing. The 66-foot Hines Farley was consistent in raising fish during all three events.
Utilizing a team effort, Reel Steel won two of the three legs of the Bermuda Triple Crown, including the Bermuda Billfish Blast and Sea Horse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament. They finished second place in the team division of the Bermuda Big Game Classic. The team consisted of owner Mike Verzaleno, Captain Jason Parker, mate Drake Cropper, John Cantiverii, Charles Coats, Kayla Verzaleno and Marc Verzaleno.
Runner-up Team Flyer, an 86-foot Merritt, scored 6,000 points in the Bermuda Triple Crown from 12 blue marlin releases. Team Flyer won the 2019 Bermuda Big Game Classic and was neck and neck with Reel Steel going into the third leg of the Bermuda Triple Crown. The team consisted of owners Kevin and Teresa Jaffe, Captain Bryce Garvey, mate Mike Overton, mate Mike Tarmey, Greg Axton, Dylan Jaffe, Gotzon Otxoa and Mark Woodbury.
Third place went to Team Big Deal, a 75-foot Spencer, scoring 3,700 points from seven blue marlin and one white marlin release. Big Deal had two top-10 finishes in the Bermuda Triple Crown to jump ahead of Team Pescador with 3,600 points. Team Big Deal consisted of owner Ed Russo, Captain Brian Rabbit, mate Ben Zafir, mate Sergio Vargas, Matthew Russo, Bill Pembroke, Kim Pembroke and Mike Pembroke.
All three teams entered the new Bermuda Triple Crown Jackpot at the beginning of the series, so each team received a check for their performances.
- First Place, Reel Steel, $58,500
- Second Place, Flyer, $35,100
- Third Place, Big Deal, $23,400
This is the first time Team Reel Steel won the Bermuda Triple Crown, although it’s not their first time competing in the tournaments. Mike and Marc Verzaleno handled the angling duties, catching all the billfish for the team. The team picked up $293,760 in total winnings on their way to the Bermuda Triple Crown series win. For their series win, Reel Steel was awarded VanMark custom rings, King Sailfish Mounts trophy, Garmin Quatix watches, Bacardi Special Edition Rum, Costa sunglasses, Grundens boots, AFTCO Championship apparel, Soundview Millworks trophy, and Steve Goione limited-edition Bermuda Triple Crown print. The boat also received a Release Marine custom trophy, YETI cooler, AFTCO harness, AFTCO gaff, AFTCO belt, Lucas Oil products, Baitmasters of South Florida gift certificate, and custom Big T Lures.
The big fish of the season was caught during the Bermuda Big Game Classic on day three by angler Jason Friedman, aboard the boat Overproof, captained by Peter Rans. Back at the scales, the fish weighed 697 pounds. For their fish, the team won the Day-Three Largest Marlin Jackpot and Winner-Take-All Largest Marlin Jackpot. This is almost a repeat of 2018, when Freidman landed a 930-pound blue marlin on day three of the Bermuda Big Game Classic.
The other two top marlin weighed this year were by Blank Check and American Beauty. On day two of the Sea Horse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament, Blank Check, captained by Danny Hearn, landed a 666-pound blue marlin caught by angler Steven Walker. The blue marlin won Blank Check all three days of the Largest Marlin Jackpot and the Winner-Take-All Largest Marlin Jackpot. On day two of the Bermuda Big Game Classic, American Beauty, captained by Travis Rolan, landed a 616-pound blue marlin caught by angler Aaron Fenn. The blue marlin won American Beauty the day two Largest Marlin Jackpot for the tournament.
In total, 9 qualifying fish over the 500-pound minimum were landed during the 2019 Bermuda Triple Crown with one from the Bermuda Billfish Blast, seven from the Bermuda Big Game Classic, and one from the Sea Horse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament. None of the top three teams in the Bermuda Triple Crown weighed a marlin.
Many of the participants continued to support the Costa IGFA Great Marlin Race Pop-up Satellite Archival Tag (PSAT) program. Before the tournament season began, Costa Sunglasses and the IGFA fished aboard Team Fa-La-Me to target and tag blue marlin. A sponsored tag was also deployed by teams Reel Steel, Fa-La-Me and Waste Knot during the series.
The timing couldn’t be any better! As white marlin and blue marlin take up residence at the canyons off the mid-Atlantic coast, the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor is in the final stages of planning the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor Marlin Tournament. Hosted by Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey, this year marks the 53rd installment of this event making it one of the longest running billfish tournaments on the east coast. The Yacht Club of Stone Harbor has a rich history dating back to 1911 and this event is always popular with members, guests and tournament anglers alike each year. Various awards will be up for grabs including 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Boat, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Angler, Top Female Angler, Top Junior Angler (16 and under) as well as 1st and 2nd Heaviest Tuna and 1st and 2nd Heaviest Dolphin. 1st and 2nd Place Team Award will also be presented and teams will consist of up to four boats each that will be picked lottery-style at the Captain’s Meeting. The Warren Buckingham Memorial Trophy will be presented to the angler with the Most Outstanding Catch while the Walt Hendee Captain’s Award will be go to the 1st Place Boat captain.
As noted earlier the beautiful Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May will host the tournament and also serve as the event’s designated weigh station. Those needing dockage for the event should contact Paul Hoffman at 609-884-0199 to reserve a slip. The tournament gets underway on Thursday, July 25 with a Captain’s Meeting and Cocktail Party from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor located at 9001 Sunset Drive in Stone Harbor. Fishing days are Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27. Cocktails, music and dinner will be provided overlooking the infinity edge pool at Canyon Club Resort Marina after each fishing day. The Awards Banquet complete with cocktails, dinner and music is set for Sunday, July 28 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor.
All boats must sail and return through Cape May Inlet and may not pass the inlet’s sea buoy prior to 4 a.m. on each fishing day. Fishing hours are 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and daily catch reports with released billfish information as well as any tuna or dolphin to be weighed must be at Canyon Club Resort Marina by 9 p.m. on each fishing day. There is no limit to size of tackle, number of lines, teasers or anglers. There is no minimum weight for tuna or dolphin and all billfish including white marlin, blue marlin, sailfish and spearfish will earn 100 points per release. All point ties will be broken on time of catch. The 53rd Annual Marlin Tournament is a billfish release competition with all entrants considered good sportsmen and their fishing (catch) reports will be accepted in the sportsmanlike manner and honor in which the tournament is held.
Whether you’re new to big game tournament fishing or a seasoned veteran, the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor 53rd Annual Marlin Tournament is a great opportunity to connect with new friends or renew old ones. With a modest entry fee of $2000 which includes admission to all events for tournament participants, this family-oriented event is a low-keyed fun tournament you’re sure to enjoy. Come join us for a few days of friendly fishing competition, camaraderie, hospitality and fun!
For more information contact Jamie Diller at 609-827-0020 or Aaron Hoffman at 609-412-3778.
HAMILTON, Bermuda (July 19, 2019) – A fleet of 43 teams put on an exciting show at the weigh-ins during the Bermuda Big Game Classic from July 13 – 17, 2019. Three days of competitive tournament fishing produced high numbers of blue marlin qualifying catches, with seven fish brought to the scales surpassing 500 pounds. A total of 61 billfish were caught, including 55 blue and six white marlin.
After lines out on day three, Team Flyer totaled five blue marlin releases, scoring 2,500 points across three days of fishing to win the 2019 Bermuda Big Game Classic, with winnings totaling $122,700. Team Overproof also scored big, landing a 697-pound blue marlin on day three, winning the Day Three Largest Marlin and Winner-Take-All Largest Marlin jackpots for $129,900 in total winnings.
As the competition intensified each day, more and more 500-plus-pound blue marlin moved onto the fishing grounds. The scales at Barr’s Bay Park in Hamilton, Bermuda, were especially busy on day two of fishing. Day one recorded a 594-pound blue marlin (Auspicious); day two saw a 518-pounder (Sea Angel), 525-pounder (Sweetums), 550-pounder (Blank Check), and 616-pounder (American Beauty); and day three produced a 608-pounder (Hot Spot) and 697-pound blue marlin (Overproof). Blue marlin must weigh at least 500 pounds to be eligible for points at the Bermuda Big Game Classic.
Team Mjolnir, captained by Dave Harris, took control of the leaderboard on day one of the Bermuda Big Game Classic. The team released two blue marlin, for a total of 1,000 points, to earn the Day One Daily Billfish Release Jackpot based on time. Angler Jim Smith caught both blue marlin.
Teams Reel Steel, the winners of the 2019 Bermuda Billfish Blast, was close behind. Reel Steel, captained by Jason Parker, also released two blue marlin for a total of 1,000 points, but they caught their fish later in the day. Anglers Mike and Marc Verzaleno caught the two blues.
Angler Joe Rahman hooked a large blue marlin aboard his boat Auspicious, captained by Edward “Cookie” Murray, on day one of the Bermuda Big Game Classic. After he fought the fish to the boat, the team recognized they had a fish that was eligible to weigh. Back at the docks, their fish weighed 594 pounds, winning the Day One Largest Marlin Jackpot and putting them in the lead for the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot.
The top two release boats on day two were Flyer and Reel Captivating, with each team releasing two blue marlin for 1,000 points each. Reel Captivating, captained by Travis Ralph, utilized angler Wayne Jenkins to catch both fish. Flyer, captained by Bryce Garvey, won the Day Two Daily Billfish Release Jackpot based on time.
Four different teams caught a qualifying blue marlin on day two, including American Beauty, captained by Travis Rolan; Blank Check, captained by Danny Hearn; Sweetums, captained by James “Pete” Rae; and Sea Angel, captained by BC Angel. American Beauty’s Aaron Fenn caught a 616-pounder; Blank Check’sDan Doyle Sr. caught a 550-pounder, Sweetums’ Colton Resor caught a 525-pounder, and Sea Angel’s Austin Angel caught a 518-pounder. Team American Beauty’s fish won the Day Two Largest Marlin Jackpot and shot them into the lead for the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot.
After two days of fishing, Flyer and Reel Steel both had 1,500 points with three blue marlin releases. Close behind, American Beauty had 1,116 points, Blank Check totaled 1,050 points, and Sweetumsscored 1,025 points.
On the final day of the 2019 Bermuda Big Game Classic teams knew there were still plenty of large blue marlin patrolling the banks off Bermuda. They knew this because they had seen the big fish come into their spreads, even if the fish didn’t commit to their lures.
Four different teams scored 1,000 points on day three of fishing. Never Enough, captained by Albert Miller; Flyer; Hit N Run, captained by Dave Fields; and Big Deal, captained by Brian Rabbit, each released two blue marlin. Team Never Enough won the Day Three Daily Billfish Release Jackpot based on time.
Teams Hot Spot and Overproof, both local Bermuda teams, boated big blue marlin relatively early in the day. Each team decided to continue fishing for the rest of day three in search of more points. Back at the docks, Hot Spot, captained by Ricky Sousa Jr, weighed a 608-pound blue marlin. Andy Periera was the angler. Overproof’s blue marlin topped out at 697 pounds, caught by angler Jason Friedman. Overproof, captained by Peter Rans, won the Day Three Largest Marlin Jackpot and the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot. Last year, in 2018, Overproof caught a 930-pound blue marlin to win the Day Three Largest Marlin Jackpot and the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot.
FIRST PLACE TEAM
Team Flyer, captained by Bryce Garvey, scored 2,500 points to win First Place Team, Day Two Release Points Jackpot, First Place Overall Release Points Jackpot, the Marlin Magazine Manufacturers Cup for Merritt Boat & Engine Works, and an invitation to the Offshore World Championship. Mark Woodbury earned top angler for his 2,500 points. Total winnings were $122,700. Prizes and awards included VanMark custom winner pendants, YETI cooler, King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits, AFTCO gloves, Big T lure and Release Marine trophy. Team Flyer includes Captain Bryce Garvey, owners Kevin and Teresa Jaffe, Dylan Jaffe, Greg Axton, Gotzon Otxoa, Michael Tarmey, Mark Woodbury and Michael Overton.
OVERALL LARGEST MARLIN JACKPOT
Team Overproof, captained by Peter Rans, won the Day-Three Largest Marlin Jackpot and Winner-Take-All Largest Marlin Jackpot with their 697-pound blue marlin, caught by angler Jason Friedman. Total winnings were $129,900. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Overproof includes Captain Peter Rans, Leslie Rans, Leesa Friedman, Jason Friedman, Morgan Friedman, Brooks Rans, Martin Estes, Michael Batista and Morgan Outerbridge.
SECOND PLACE TEAM
Team Reel Steel, captained by Jason Parker, scored 2,000 points to win Second Place Team and Second Place Overall Release Points Jackpot. Total earnings were $54,960. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Reel Steel includes Captain Jason Parker, Mike Verzaleno, Marc Verzaleno, Kayla Verzaleno, Drake Cropper, Charles Coats and John Cantiveri.
THIRD PLACE TEAM
Team Waste Knot, captained by Mike Tickle, scored 1,700 points to win Third Place Team, Third Place Overall Release Points Jackpot and Top Junior Angler for Luke Fletcher. Total winnings were $32,340. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Waste Knot includes Captain Mike Tickle, Gary Fletcher, Rocky Hardison, Chase Pake, Luke Fletcher, and Thompson Brown.
DAY TWO LARGEST MARLIN JACKPOT
Team American Beauty, captained by Travis Rolan, scored a 616-pound blue marlin to win the Day Three Largest Marlin Jackpot, caught by Aaron Fenn. Total winnings include $24,600. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team American Beauty includes Captain Travis Rolan, Mike Posillico, Corey Hexter, Alan Davis, Roderick Haines, Kayla Milam, Jason Richard Peer and Daniel Strode.
DAY ONE LARGEST MARLIN JACKPOT
Team Auspicious, captained by Edward “Cookie” Murray, weighed a 594-pound blue marlin to win the Day One Largest Marlin Jackpot, caught by owner Joe Rahman. Total winnings include $24,600. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Auspicious includes Captain Edward “Cookie” Murray, John Copeland, Carl Copeland, David Soares, Kevin Stafford, Mark Brochu, John Given and Everett Petronio.
DAY ONE RELEASE POINTS JACKPOT
Team Mjolnir, captained by Dave Harris, won the Day One Release Points jackpot from two blue marlin catches by Jim Smith. Total winnings include $23,400. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Mjolnir includes Captain Dave Harris, owner and angler Jim Smith, Darrin Isaacs and Tim Smith.
DAY THREE BILLFISH RELEASE POINTS JACKPOT
Team Never Enough, captained by Albert Miller, won the Day Three Release Points jackpot from two blue marlin catches by Walter Shikany Jr. Total winnings include $23,400. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Never Enough includes Captain Albert Miller, owner and angler Walter Shikany Jr., Marc Hopper. Nick Favata, and Ian Poteat.
Angler Laura Russell, aboard Hit N Run, caught a 34-pound wahoo to win the largest gamefish. Total winnings were $6,450. Team Hit N Run includes Byron Russell, Laura Russell, Mike Walsh, Clark Beaty, Evan Jones, Stevie Ehrber, Barrett McMilliam and Greg Lulemon.
TOP LADY ANGLER
Elaine Jones, owner of Mama Who, won top lady angler with 1,000 points from two blue marlin releases. Team Mama Who includes Captain Wil Thornhill, Elaine Jones, Robert Davies, Charles Lewis, Joe West and Sales De La Bar.
More than 200 anglers competing on 38 teams experienced three days of record fishing, releasing 91 blue marlin, 17 white marlin and a spearfish.
HAMILTON, Bermuda (July 8, 2019) – An army of fishing talent experienced flat-calm conditions offshore Bermuda for the 2019 Bermuda Billfish Blast. A total of 248 anglers on 42 boats fished hard for three days, July 4-6, competing for marlin releases and coveted qualifying blue marlin to weigh in. Three days of fishing produced 38 blue marlin and 10 white marlin releases during the event, with most blues ranging in the 200- to 400-pound class. After lines out on day three, Team Reel Steel totaled two blue and two white marlin releases to win the 2019 Bermuda Billfish Blast.
As the competition intensified each day, no one team was able to pull away from the pack. In fact, no team that won a Daily Marlin Release Jackpot finished in the overall top three. The blue marlin bite increased each day but wasn’t as spectacular as 2018. Day one recorded 10 releases, day two saw 12 releases, and day three logged 16 blue marlin releases. Blue marlin releases were worth 500 points, garnering all the attention, while species such as white marlin and spearfish scored 200 points.
DAY ONE, JULY 4
Team Bree, captained by Kyle Liane, jumped out to an early lead on day one of the Bermuda Billfish Blast. The team released two blue marlin (1,000 points) by anglers Karl Minzenberg and Randy Ringhaver. The two blues were enough to win both levels of the Daily Marlin Release Jackpot and control the leaderboard.
Team Waste Knot, captained by Michael Tickle, was close behind with 700 points from one blue and one white marlin. Angler Scott Poole caught and released both fish. Teams Freyja, Legacy, Flyer, Big Deal, Blank Check, Reel Addiction and Auspicious all had great days too, recording one blue marlin release. The leaderboard was tight after day one.
DAY TWO, JULY 5
Team Stacked Up, captained by Snick Akers, got in on the action in a big way during day two. The newcomers to the Bermuda Triple Crown landed a blue marlin and white marlin for 700 points to win both levels of the Daily Marlin Release Jackpot. Angler Mike Engelman was in the chair for both fish. Team Reel Steel, captained by Jason Parker, was close behind, landing a blue marlin and a white marlin. Although Reel Steel and Stacked Up both caught the same number of fish, for the same amount of points, tournament rules dictate whichever team caught their fish earlier breaks the tiebreaker.
After two days of fishing, Bree held the lead with two blue marlin releases (1,000 points). Teams Flyer and Legacy also had two blue marlin releases (1,000 points). Team Stacked Up and Reel Steel were behind the top three places with 900 points each. Just one white marlin release was the difference between the top five teams after two days of fishing. Also, after two days of fishing, no team landed a marlin to weigh for the Largest Marlin jackpots.
DAY THREE, JULY 6
On day three, two teams that blanked the first two days stole the show.
Team Uno Mas, captained by Brooks Smith, landed two blue marlin and a white marlin for 1,200 points on day three. Anglers Jeremy Cabillo and Drew MacDowell each caught a blue, with MacDowell also releasing a white marlin. Uno Mas’ second blue marlin made the team think twice about boating the fish. A lengthy fight and oversize head had the blue marlin close to the 500-pound mark. For their three releases, Uno Mas won both levels of the Daily Marlin Release Jackpot. The points they scored on day three had them just 200 points behind the eventual winners
Team Sea Angel, captained by BC Angel, hooked one fish all tournament — but that fish was a game changer. On day three, angler Austin Angel came tight on a blue marlin and fought the fish for less than 2 hours. When they got the fish boat side, the team made the right call to gaff the fish and boat it. Back at the weigh-in docks, the fish weighed 509 pounds, just 9 pounds heavier than the 500-pound qualifying weight.
The Bermuda Billfish Blast offers optional winner-take-all Largest Marlin jackpots at two levels. The team that catches the largest blue marlin over 500 pounds wins the entire jackpot if they enter levels one and two. In the past, if the Largest Marlin Jackpot wasn’t won on July 4, the jackpot money was awarded to the top three boats in the Overall Billfish Release Jackpot. Tournament rules changed in 2019 allowing teams to weigh-in qualifying blue marlin on days two and three if no fish were weighed the prior day. For their catch on day three, Sea Angel won both levels of the winner-take-all Largest Marlin Jackpot.
Team Reel Steel, captained by Jason Parker, scored 1,400 points to win first-place team, totaling two blue marlin and two white marlin releases. The team of anglers consisted of Mike Verzaleno, Marc Verzaleno, Drake Cropper, Big Mike Verzaleno and Charles Coats. They also won the first-place Overall Release Points Jackpot. Total Winnings were $77,400 and an invitation to the 2020 Offshore World Championship. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Maui Jim sunglasses, VanMark Jewelry Designers marlin pendants, a Yeti cooler, Steve Goione prints, Release Marine custom trophy, Soundview Millwork trophies, Big-T lures and Bacardi spirits.
Team Sea Angel, captained by BC Angel, landed a 509-pound blue marlin to win both levels of the winner-take-all Largest Marlin Jackpot. The team of anglers consisted of Nolan Raunswinter, Randy Estes, Andrea Angel, Greg Angel, Austin Angel and Tyler Lindorf. Total Winnings were $100,800.
Team Waste Knot, captained by Michael Tickle, scored 1,200 points to win second-place team, totaling one white marlin and two blue marlin releases. The team also won second-place Overall Release Points Jackpot. Waste Knot anglers included Scott Poole, Ven Poole, Chelsea Poole, Scott Poole, Jr, Thompson Brown and Chase Dalce. Total winnings were $45,180. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures, Soundview Millworks trophies, Maui Jim sunglasses and Bacardi spirits.
Team Auspicious, captained by Edward “Cookie” Murray, scored 1,200 points to win the third-place team, totaling one white marlin and two blue marlin releases. The team also won third-place Overall Release Points Jackpot. Team Auspicious consisted of Kevin Stafford, David Soares, Carl Copeland, Joseph Rahman, Mark Brochu, John Copeland and John Given. Total winnings were $25,920. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures, Soundview Millworks trophies, Maui Jim sunglasses and Bacardi spirits.
Team Bree, captained by Kyle Liane, scored 1,000 points on day one from two blue marlin to win both levels of the Day One Marlin Release Jackpot. Team Bree consisted of Colin Murphy, Ian Fletcher, Randy Ringhaver, Royal Hendrix, Karl Minzenberg and Shelley Minzenberg. Total winnings were $33,600. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures, and Maui Jim sunglasses.
Team Stacked Up, captained by Snick Akers, scored 700 points on day two from one white marlin and one blue marlin to win both levels of the Day Two Marlin Release Jackpot. Team Stacked Up consisted of Scott Miller, James Nantz, John Seitzer, Mike Engelman, Heather Serriani, and Lisa Serirani. Total winnings were $33,600. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures, and Maui Jim sunglasses.
Team Uno Mas, captained by Brooks Smith, scored 1,200 points on day three from one white marlin and two blue marlin to win both levels of the Day Three Marlin Release Jackpot. Team Uno Mas consisted of Maria Smith, Sean Gallagher, Drew MacDowell, David Mothershed, Jeremy Cabillo and Jeremy Quinos. Total winnings were $33,600. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures, and Maui Jim sunglasses.
TOP ANGLER AND JUNIOR ANGLER
Angler Marc Verzaleno, of Team Reel Steel, scored 1,400 points to win the top junior and top angler of the 2019 Bermuda Billfish Blast. Verzaleno’s 1,400 points came from two blue marlin and two white marlin releases. His prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Soundview Millworks trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures and Maui Jim sunglasses.
TOP LADY ANGLER
Angler Laura Russell, of Team Hit N Run, scored 1,000 points from two blue marlin, to win the top lady angler of the 2019 Bermuda Triple Crown. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Soundview Millworks trophies, VanMark Jewelry Designers earrings, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures and Bacardi Spirits.
The 2019 Bermuda Billfish Blast tournament, presented by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, culminated in a highly popular awards banquet dinner in the Harbourview Ballroom at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel. More than 350 people were in attendance. The tournament awarded $350,000, plus trophies and prizes. For more information, visit www.bermudatriplecrown.com.