White Marlin Open Journal, Day 1

Wind whips up unwelcome weather in Ocean City, Maryland.
WMO captains meeting

WMO captains meeting

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 had met the rest of the team at Harbour Island Marina (the tournament site) about 5:30 p.m. Sunday. 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.

Les Stewart Jr. finishes prepping the boat, which arrived in Ocean City Sunday morning. The Contender’s vibrant Guy Harvey wrap got loads of attention from dock walkers. Chris Woodward
Tackle always gets the royal treatment during a tournament. Chris Woodward
Crowds browsed the booths set up at the docks for the White Marlin Open and visited friends, some of which they haven’t seen since last year. Chris Woodward
Many of the boats that fish the White Marlin Open are large sport-fishing vessels. Our Contender 39 ST will have a decided speed advantage. Chris Woodward
Vendors displayed lots of T-shirts, some jewelry and artwork at the booths on the docks. With a live band playing, we enjoyed a festive party atmosphere to kick off the event. Chris Woodward
A wooden marlin sculpture held a price tag of $7,000. Chris Woodward
Winners’ names from last year adorn the White Marlin Open leaderboard at the captains’ meeting. The lucky top boat took home $1.4 million — a great return on the $1,200 entry fee. Chris Woodward
A tournament official reads the rules and regulations for the White Marlin Open during the captains’ meeting, in the shadow of the official weigh-in gantry. Chris Woodward