The 2020 White Marlin Open wrapped up on Sunday and with 433 registered boats in the 47th annual event, this year set a record for the most tournament money ever awarded in fishing. In total, $6.7 MILLION was paid out to fishermen with a fishing world-record of $1.6 million awarded to a single crew.
This year’s top fish was hauled in by the “Canyon Blues” fishing team out of Ocean City, Maryland. Angler Brandon Golueke from Chester, Maryland caught the 97-pound White Marlin aboard ‘Canyon Blues’ on Saturday and going into Sunday I think a lot of the boats knew it was over.
A 97-pound White Marlin was going to be really hard to beat. Interestingly, the ‘Canyon Blues’ team took home $1.5 million for that fish while angler Taylor Fields onboard Drillin & Billin won $1.6 million for their second-place 77-pound White Marlin because they’d entered more categories (we’ll get to that below). Here’s that 97-pound fish:
The Restless Lady 2 fishing team won $900,000 for their 114.5-pound Tuna. The Backlash fishing crew from Hatteras, North Carolina caught a tournament-record 73.5-pound Mahi Mahi which was worth $20,000. And angler Kyle Gagliardi caught a tournament record 273.5-pound Swordfish which was worth $375,000 under the ‘Big Fish’ category.
Here’s the rundown from the tournament’s press release with individual category results below:
“The top prize of over $1.6 million went to the “Canyon Blues” out of Ocean City, MD for the huge 97-pound white marlin caught by Brandon Golueke from Chester, MD on Saturday. That fish stands as the 3rd largest white marlin weighed in the 47-year White Marlin Open history. The “Drillin & Billin” out of Hatteras, NC weighed a 77-pound white marlin caught Friday by Taylor Fields from Baltimore, MD. That fish was good for second place and an estimated $1.6 million in prize money. Rounding out the white marlin division was the “Crisdel” out of Islamorada, FL with a 77-pound white on Saturday good for 3rd place. The fish was taken by Frank Criscola from Bedminster, NJ.
The tuna division produced the 3rd million-dollar winner. The rules state that if no blue marlin is caught, that prize money goes to white marlin winners. The lack of a qualifying blue marlin had an impact on the above white marlin by adding over $500,000 to their winnings. But the biggest benefactor of the vacant blue marlin division turned out to be Ocean City’s “Restless Lady.” Already winning $900,000 for the 114.5-pound bluefin tuna brought in on Monday, the $417,000 in the blue marlin winner-take-all division defaulted to the biggest tuna entered in that level which was the “Restless Lady.” The OC boat added that extra money to bring the winnings to over $1,300,000 for angler Travis Ort from York, PA. Rounding out the tuna division were the “Sentient” out of Slaughter Creek, MD with a 121-pounder worth $85,000.00, the “The “Blue Runner” from Manasquan, NJ that took $150,000, and the “Swords Fish” from Indian River, DE that held on to win $76,000 for their 92-pound tuna.
The 2020 event saw two WMO record catches. A 47-year-old tournament record 73.5-pound dolphin was caught Friday by Matt Wagner off the “Backlash,” and was worth $20,000. The second record catch was a 273.5-pound swordfish landed by Kyle Gagliardi from Vineland, NJ. Gagliardi is a professional bass fisherman who took a busman’s holiday to land the saltwater billfish. Fishing off the “Jersey Boy” Gagliardi took $375,000 in the tournament Big Fish category.”
Here’s a rundown of the major categories:
- Canyon Blues, 97 pounds, $1,600,000
- Drillin & Billin, 77 pounds, $1,600,000
- Crisdel, 77 pounds, $90,000
- Sentient, 121 pounds, $85,000
- Restless Lady 2, 114.5 pounds, $900,000
- Blue Runner, 106 pounds, $150,000
- Swords Fish, 92 pounds, $76,000
- Magic Moment, 60.5 pounds, $20,000
- Tail Chaser, 57 pounds, $17,000
- Miss Stella, 45.5 pounds, $2,000
- Backlash, 73.5 pounds, $20,000
- Jenny Poo, 58.5 pounds, $20,000
- Seacurity, 54 pounds, $20,000
- Jersey Boy, Swordfish, 273.5 pounds, $375,000
Here’s a look at that 273-pound swordfish:
Overall, Wave Paver 77 was the Top Boat with 1,155 points followed by Mama C with 1,054 points and Full Pull in 3rd with 875 points. Angler Harris Huddle was the top-ranked fisherman with 665 points followed by Anne Aramendia, James Davis, and Mike Fernandez all with 560 points.
If you aren’t familiar with the format of fishing tournaments, oftentimes there are a TON of categories that payout like the biggest White Marlin, Blue Marlin, Sharks, Tuna, etc. It pays to enter all of the categories because fishing crews never know what they are going to catch out there, and likewise, this REALLY juices the overall prize pool.
There was major drama three years ago when the winners were accused of cheating and took their case in front of a judge, a case that dragged out for pretty much an entire year. I guess it’s worth mentioning that the ‘winner’ is forced to take a polygraph/lie detector test to ensure that they followed all the rules as in there was only one angler fighting the fish, the fish was caught within the allotted timeframe, etc.
For complete tournament results and payouts, you can head on over to the White Marlin Open’s website where they have everything posted.