- The 2021 White Marlin Open was the largest billfish tournament in history with 444 registered boats and $9,259,150 of prize money
- The White Marlin category has the biggest payout and is the most sought after category in the field but three categories paid 1st place over $1 million
- The winning White Marlin was the last marlin weighed of the tournament and was good for a $3,238,160.00 pay day
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The White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Maryland is the largest billfish fishing tournament in the world. Year after year, the tourney breaks its own records for prize money and boats entered. This year’s action came down to the last minute with dreams realized and shattered late in the evening on the last night of action.
This year’s winning White Marlin was weighed late into the night on Friday and the 85.5-pound White Marlin was worth a tournament winning $3,238,160 in prize money. The 775-pound Blue Marlin which won that category was worth a whopping $1,107,260 and the winning Yellowfin Tuna was worth $1,251,230.
Interestingly, the same crew won the Blue Marlin AND Yellowfin Tuna categories so they saw a huuuuuge payday this year. That crew was fishing aboard a boat named Seven out of Jupiter, Florida. Angler David Cash from Palm Beach Gardens caught the 755-pound Blue Marlin and fellow angler Lawrence Morejon caught the 137-pound Tuna (both on Seven).
It has been kind of a trend over the past few years, but the White Marlin fishing was a little slow. Not the fishing overall, just the numbers of qualifying White Marlin weighing over 70-pounds. That’s the minimum weight of a fish allowed to hit the scales.
2021 White Marlin Open Winners and Results
Angler Mike Atkinson had to be feeling both good and nervous all week. He weighed a tournament-leading 82.5-pound White Marlin on Monday, the first day of fishing. It wasn’t until Day 5 of fishing that any other qualifying fish came to the scales. Two boats weighed White Marlin, 70 and 70 pounds, but he was still in the lead with the 82.5-pounder. That fish was valued at over $5 million according to Delmarva Now.
On the last day of fishing, 402 of 444 registered boats were fishing. This meant the scales were pretty crowded. Technically, the tournament’s scales closed at 9:15 PM but they stayed open much later so long as the boat had called ahead to tell the tournament officials they were coming in to weigh a catch.
Butch Wright was onboard Sushi and had radioed ahead a qualifying White Marlin. They knew they had a big fish because it jumped hard right when they hooked up but didn’t know just how large it was until it hit the scales.
They hoisted the fish onto the scales at 9:38 PM and it weighed 85.5-pounds, three pounds heavier than the fish in 1st Place for the past 5 days. Butch Wright’s 85.5-pound White Marlin was worth an astounding 3,238,160.
I mentioned the crew onboard Seven earlier, fishing out of Jupiter, Florida. They absolutely killed it. That team weighed the heaviest overall fish of the tournament, a 775-pound Blue Marlin. And Seven won the Tuna category with a 137-pound Yellowfin. Those two fish were worth $1,107,260 and $1,251,230.
What’s wild is how far away those two fish were from the rest of the field. The winning White Marlin was only 3-pounds heavier than second place. But the winning Blue Marlin was 775-pounds and second place was 559.5-pounds. While the winning Tuna was 137-pounds to 102-pounds in second place. They completely blew the field away for a total payday of $2,358,490. Not bad for a fishing tournament!
For what it’s worth, the 82.5-pound White Marlin that got bumped to second place was still worth an insane amount of money. Virginia Beach angler Mike Atkinson onboard Fender Bender earned $1,980,910 for the second-place White Marlin. The third-place White Marlin (78.5-pounds) was worth $106,216.
White Marlin Open Winners: Best of the Rest
Angler Ormonde Mahoney fishing onboard El Azul won the Wahoo category with an 84-pound fish for $2,000 in that category. And angler Charles Dishman onboard Dropped Call won the Mahi-Mahi/Dolphin category with a $22,090 fish that weighed 34-pounds. The Go Fish boat swept the Shark category with a 132.5-pound shark and 131-pound shark, worth $4,500 and $3,500 respectively.
If you want to learn more, you can check out the\ White Marlin Open’s tournament page for details about each category and payouts.