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White Marlin Open Journal, Day 3
by Chris Woodward
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Chris Woodward
A happy crowd jams the waterfront at Harbour Island to view the weigh-in for the White Marlin Open on Wednesday. Only two days of fishing remain!

Today, Team Contender targeted white marlin rather than tuna. This is, after all, the White Marlin Open we are fishing. We pulled ballyhoo along the edge of the Wilmington Canyon. We had three hits. Never saw the fish. Even the radio was quiet today.

The morning started wet. As soon as the rain stopped, the wind picked up and blew a chilly 15 knots with temperatures in the 60s. From the looks of the marina when we left, a good number of boats took a lay day. We were ready for a change of fortune.

We took on fuel and ran out the inlet at about 7. We missed the lines-in call at 8:30 by about 30 minutes, but we made the 87-mile run at a 40 mph clip. The nearshore seas quickly became a snotty 3 to 5 feet, but the Contender 39 ST skimmed over the crests. We passed a 30-plus-foot walkaround slogging through the seas about 20 miles out.

We started a troll near some commercial high flyers (markers for pots or traps). Our mate, Capt. Mike Sisto, saw a flash of silver slash at a bait. Angler Tony Novelli dropped that bait back, but the fish apparently wasn't hungry enough for a second pass.

Our buddy boat, the Rock Doc, jumped off four white marlin. They just couldn't get a hook to stay in the fish. That's common with whites, Sisto says.

As the morning wore on, we had another fish crash a long bait, a heavy-duty Moldcraft soft-plastic that Mike had put back for a stray blue marlin. And with only 30 minutes left before lines out, another fish slammed the port, long rigger bait, completely scaling the ballyhoo.

Throughout the day, we traced the contour lines in 500 to 800 feet of water. We pulled eight baits, two dredges and two daisy chains. The commotion we created should have rung the dinner bell. The buffet was out, but nobody came.

Only one bigeye had been weighed in once we got back to the dock. That 240-pounder is currently the second-place fish.

So what will we do tomorrow… well, we will be discussing that at dinner tonight. Stay tuned and send us your good vibes, prayers and wishes.