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Sports Outdoors and Recreation

'The Super Bowl of big fish tournaments'

One might not associate ocean fishing with 100-pound fish, sponsorships and millions in cash prizes. But for fishing boat captain Ted Deppe, that's what it is.

The 52-year-old from Crownsville, along with two crewmates and five anglers, spend much of their free time competing in ocean fishing competitions, and have been very successful — so much so that Deppe's team was recently offered a sponsorship from Under Armour, which pays for its gear.

At this week's White Marlin Open in Ocean City, the world's largest billfish tournament, his team will compete in the event for the 28th consecutive time and try to win for the second year in a row. In 2013, the team caught an 83-pound white marlin to earn first place and $1.2 million in prize money.

For these guys, there are no playoffs or standings to determine how you stack up. The White Marlin Open, which runs Monday through Friday and attracts 400 teams, is for all the marbles.

“It's really like the U.S. Open or the Super Bowl of big-fish tournaments, so obviously it was a really big deal to us, just like this year's will be,” said Deppe, who finished third in 2010.

A victory this year would make Deppe the first person to win the tournament more than once.

Winning isn't easy. Deppe and his teammates had to spend an estimated $30,000 for gear and the right to compete for top prizes.

Deppe's team will leave the docks at 4 a.m. and drive his boat as far as it takes to catch a good fish, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles south toward Virginia.

While Deppe won last year for his white marlin, there are several other categories for different fish, including blue marlin and wahoo, which he came in third for last year. The variety is something Deppe says he relishes about ocean fishing.

“You'll be having a boring day, nothing's biting. Then suddenly, a 500-pound blue marlin is on the hook — it's really exciting,” he said.

Most people who go to the White Marlin Open are professional anglers, but that doesn't mean they don't have fun.

“We're all just really good buddies,” Deppe said. “We became good friends with our anglers, and that just lets us have a fun time and work together as a team as well.”

Every fish that gets turned in at the White Marlin Open is cut up and donated to homeless shelters.

Some might say luck plays a big part in catching fish, but lately Deppe has made his own, and he says he can continue his success.

“Listen, when you've got guys spending like this, you can't be indifferent, you have to be confident,” Deppe said. “And, hey, you can't argue with my results.”

lkrauss@baltsun.com

twitter.com/LouisKraussSun

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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