THE PAYOUT — A Frederick County fisherman turned a 78.5-pound fish into a $1.3 million cash cow at the 30th annual White Marlin Open in Ocean City.
The payout - the largest in billfish tournament history - went to Doug Remsberg of Walkersville, who caught the white marlin aboard Fish Bonz. The prize topped the previous world record by $430,000.
Remsberg landed the marlin Friday 53 miles offshore in a fish-rich area known as Poor Man's Canyon. His catch on the final day of the five-day tournament pushed Vince Dougherty of King George, Va., to second place with a 71-pound white, good for a $171,833 check.
A total of 398 boats were entered in the tournament, a slight dip from last year. However, prize money this year was at an all-time high: $2.23 million. Checks were awarded yesterday at the Ocean City Convention Center.
By many accounts, it wasn't a particularly good week for fishing. The billfish were reported to be widely scattered, with little Gulf Stream current to bunch them up. On Tuesday, a nasty storm with high seas and heavy rains kept all but 43 boats at the docks.
Tournament president Jim Motsko reported that 99 white marlin were caught and released, and four fish were brought to the scale at Harbour Island Marina. Thirteen blue marlin were caught and released, and just two were brought in.
The winner of the blue marlin division was James Adams of Wake Forest, N.C., who caught a 485-pound fish aboard Reel Deal. He won $562,000.
The largest tuna was landed by Robert Ham of Strasburg, Pa., aboard Capt. Ike II. The 175.5-pound fish was worth $14,000. But the big check in the tuna division went to Lawrence Zeccola of Newark, Del., who entered the tournament in multiple skill levels, making his 162-pound fish worth $97,360. Zeccola was aboard Job Site.
Baltimore-area anglers did well. Bill Butler of Parkton won $4,500 for catching the largest shark Thursday at Baltimore Canyon. He landed the 162.5-pound mako aboard Fighting Chance.
The wahoo division was won by Jeff Howell of Baltimore, who landed a 69-pound fish aboard Reel Sensation on Thursday. He won $4,000.