Skip to main content

Day 1: Ocean City's White Marlin Open

Crowds flock to see fishing boats launch and watch weigh-in

Day 1: Ocean City's White Marlin Open
Day 1: Ocean City's White Marlin Open

For a photo gallery from the Open's first day, click here.

OCEAN CITY, Md. – There wasn’t a hint of daylight at five a.m. Monday, but the Ocean City Inlet was lined with spectators. They gathered to watch a parade of fishing boats leave the Harbor Island Marina headed for the blue water off the Maryland coast.

And there was barely a hint of a parking place near the marina Monday at 4 p.m. when a crowd of 4,000 to 5,000 gathered for the Day One weigh-in of the White Marlin Open.

Saltwater tournament fishing, on the surface, wouldn’t seem to be a spectator sport. But when you come to what is billed as the “World’s Largest Billfish Tournament,” you quickly realize that this sport draws a crowd.


Even the anglers seem to have a sense of how to please a crowd. When Capt. Jeremy Shandrowski steered his boat to the scales at 5:40 p.m. Monday, as the first boat to appear there, he already had the spectators’ attention. The first fish on the scales created an ebb in the enthusiasm, as the yellowfin tuna weighed only 45 pounds, five pounds less than the minimum to qualify for prize money here.


But instantly there was a new buzz among the spectators as several men struggled to lift a second tuna from Shandrowski’s boat, “Playmate.” When a large bigeye tuna pegged the electronic scales at 241 pounds, it was like the first touchdown had been scored in the Super Bowl.

“That’s a heckuva way to start,” said White Marlin Open founder and director Jim Motsko.

“That’s what we were hoping to do,” said Shandrowski, who is from Bel-Air, Md. “We didn’t want to weigh-in that big one first.”

Everything about Ocean City draws a crowd. This mid-Atlantic coastal city of 8,000 grows to a population of over 300,000 during the summer as vacationers flock to the beach and the famous boardwalk here.


Ocean City’s fishing is no different, as you might expect from a place that bills itself as the “White Marlin Capital of the World.” This marks the 38th year of the White Marlin Open, a five-day tournament that concludes Friday. Entrants are allowed to fish for the three days of their choosing. In addition to white marlin and tuna, the competition categories include blue marlin, dolphin, shark and wahoo.

“We’re the only tournament in the world that’s had 1,000-pound blue marlin weighed-in the last two years in a row,” Motsko said. “We had fabulous fishing last year. You could go all over the world, and it didn’t matter where you went, people knew we had really good fishing in Ocean City.”

And people know there’s some really good prize money paid to the top anglers in this event. With 237 boats entered this year, and most of them paying the $15,000-plus “across-the-board” entry fee in all the competition categories, that 241-pound tuna caught Monday is potentially worth over $300,000.


Dale Christensen of Hanover, Pa., caught the fish. It’s his first year to be a part of this event.

“I’m a little tired,” said a smiling Christensen. “But I’ll recover.”

Shandowski, 31, first fished the White Marlin Open when he was 16 years old. He competed again last year. This year he captained a group of friends, including Christensen.

“We’re not done yet,” vowed Shandowski, who predicted another eventful weigh-in on his remaining two fishing days this week.

One hundred forty-five of the 237 entrants picked Monday to start. Shawn Hann of Warfordsburg, Pa., was glad his boat, Marli, was one of those. With Capt. Mark Hoos, Hann landed a 58-pound wahoo, a long, sleek sportfish known for its 50-mile per hour line-peeling runs.

“It was the most intense fight of my entire life,” Hann said. “My arms were burning, my legs were burning. It took 20 minutes to land it, but it felt like two hours. Everything is just a blur.”

No white marlin, blue marlin or sharks were weighed-in Monday. But that’s just three more reasons why Harbor Island Marina will draw a crowd the rest of the week.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Rapala OG Slim 6

Rapala OG Slim 6

The 2019 Bassmaster Classic champ Ott Defoe sits down with In-Fisherman Associate Publisher Todd Ceisner, to talk about Rapala's new OG Slim 6 crankbait. The OG Slim 6 will feature a flat-sided, balsa body, and will dive around 6 feet. Featuring a circuit board lip, the OG Slim 6 deflects off of cover better than traditional plastic lips. Offered in 14 colors and available in tackle stores Fall 2020. MSRP $10.99.

New from Old Town: Sportsman Autopilot 136 and Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman

New from Old Town: Sportsman Autopilot 136 and Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman

Brand ambassador Ryan Lilly highlights the features of the Old Town AutoPilot 136 motorized kayak and the Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman canoe.

Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler & Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kits

Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler & Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kits

New products from ICAST 2020 included the Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler and Deluxe Anchor Trolley kits. Bill Bragman highlights the features of each kit.

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

In this ICAST Fishing Gear Guide video, Mark Mills with Daiwa and Florida Sportsman's Jeff Weakley talk off-shore fishing gear.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing.4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing.

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing.Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers Striper & Hybrid

3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

As wintertime takes hold, power plant lake bass fishing heats up for anglers that focus on a lake's optimal water temperatures.For Wintertime Power Plant Bass Lakes, Water Temperature is Key Stories

For Wintertime Power Plant Bass Lakes, Water Temperature is Key

Lynn Burkhead, OSG Senior Digital Editor

As wintertime takes hold, power plant lake bass fishing heats up for anglers that focus on a...

Major League Fishing (MLF), a made-for-television bass fishing competition featuring the country's top professional anglers, celebrates its 5-year anniversary this summer with news it has become the No. 1 fishing show in the nation.Major League Fishing Celebrates 5-Year Anniversary with Top Rating Stories

Major League Fishing Celebrates 5-Year Anniversary with Top Rating

MLF Communications

Major League Fishing (MLF), a made-for-television bass fishing competition featuring the...

Actions speak louder than words when sharing the passion for hunting, fishing and the outdoors.Outdoors Perspective: The Power of Paying Forward Stories

Outdoors Perspective: The Power of Paying Forward

Keith Sutton - November 12, 2018

Actions speak louder than words when sharing the passion for hunting, fishing and the outdoors.

Editor's Note: Our popular Camera Corner features reader photos and stories from successfulPamela's Story: A Memorable Fly Fishing Encounter Stories

Pamela's Story: A Memorable Fly Fishing Encounter

April 28, 2017

Editor's Note: Our popular Camera Corner features reader photos and stories from successful

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now