OCEAN CITY, Md.- The 2020 White Marlin Open wrapped up Sunday night with a new tournament record fish, three new millionaires and a world record tournament payout.
The 433 registered boats, facing the dual challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and Tropical Storm Isaias, hauled in fish that were collectively worth $6.7 million during the weeklong event; it represents the most tournament money ever awarded in fishing.
The top prize of over $1.6 million went to the “Canyon Blues” out of Ocean City, Md., for the huge 97-pound white marlin caught by Brandon Golueke from Chester, Md., on Saturday. That fish stands as the third largest white marlin weighed in the 47-year White Marlin Open history.
The “Drillin & Billin” out of Hatteras, N.C., weighed a 77-pound white marlin caught Friday by Taylor Fields from Baltimore. That fish was good for second place and an estimated $1.6 million in prize money.
Rounding out the white marlin division was the “Crisdel” out of Islamorada, Fla., with a 77-pound white on Saturday good for third place. The fish was taken by Frank Criscola from Bedminster, N.J.
The tuna division produced the third million-dollar winner. The rules state that if no blue marlin is caught, that prize money goes to white marlin winners. The lack of a qualifying blue marlin had an impact on the above white marlin by adding over $500,000 to their winnings. But the biggest benefactor of the vacant blue marlin division turned out to be Ocean City’s “Restless Lady.”
Already winning $900,000 for the 114.5-pound bluefin tuna brought in on Monday, the $417,000 in the blue marlin winner-take-all division defaulted to the biggest tuna entered in that level which was the “Restless Lady.” The OC boat added that extra money to bring the winnings to over $1.3 million for angler Travis Ort from York, Pa. Rounding out the tuna division were the “Sentient” out of Slaughter Creek, Md., with a 121-pounder worth $85,000, the “The “Blue Runner” from Manasquan, N.J., that took $150,000, and the “Swords Fish” from Indian River, DE that held on to win $76,000 for their 92-pound tuna.
The 2020 event saw two WMO record catches. A 47-year-old tournament record 73.5-pound dolphin was caught Friday by Matt Wagner off the “Backlash,” and was worth $20,000. The second record catch was a 273.5-pound swordfish landed by Kyle Gagliardi from Vineland, N.J. Gagliardi is a professional bass fisherman who took a busman’s holiday to land the saltwater billfish. Fishing off the “Jersey Boy” Gagliardi took $375,000 in the tournament Big Fish category.