I arrived in Ocean City Sunday afternoon prepped for an all-out assault on the marlin and tuna. But I file this now from a local Starbucks Monday morning: The first day of fishing for the 40th Annual White Marlin Open has become a lay day for Team Contender. Teams can fish three of the tournament's five days — Aug. 5-9.
I had a slight inkling this might happen. The treetops swayed a bit more than expected as I drove into town. I hoped it was just a late-afternoon wind that would calm overnight. But the forecast for today had the seas heaping up to a good 4 to 6 feet. With calmer conditions expected the rest of the week, we decided to stay at the dock.
I met the rest of the team at Harbour Island Marina (the tournament site) about 5:30 p.m. Les Stewart Jr. and his father, from Contender Boats, and Tony Novelli, Contender’s Northeast sales manager, were offloading groceries and supplies and stowing tackle. Tony said a 300-pound tuna was caught over the weekend; a few white marlin have been reported in recent days.
Crowds of anglers and onlookers had gathered to await the captains’ meeting and shop the T-shirt, jewelry and art booths set up along the docks. The on-site bar was busy serving the area’s signature adult beverage, the Orange Crush.
At 7 p.m., the captains’ meeting started. A total of 262 boats registered, up from 253 last year. After listening to the official rules and regulations, the crowd dispersed. Our team met to look at conditions, and the decision was made. All kinds of strategy blend to create a tournament win. We hope this move puts us on better, more productive seas Tuesday.