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OCEAN CITY, Md. – A big saltwater fish can lose weight quickly after it’s caught, no matter how much care is given to prevent that. So when Paul Coen landed a big white marlin aboard “Wee Wun IV” Friday around noon, Capt. John Devenny made the decision to end the day early and head back to Island Harbor Marina.
When the scales opened at 4 p.m. on the final day of the 38th annual White Marlin Open, the “Wee Wun IV” had been waiting there for an hour. That decision paid off to the tune of $289,063.
Coen’s white marlin weighed 88.5 pounds, which held up when the scales closed at 9:15 p.m. as the first-place fish in the featured category. It edged the 86.5-pounder caught Tuesday by Brian Kline aboard “Tighten Up.”
The winning white marlin hit a mackerel bait at 11:38 Friday. With heavy tackle, including 130-pound test line, Coen was able to land the fish in 20 minutes.
“If it was on lighter tackle, we wouldn’t have got it because he did some running,” said Coen, who is from Wilmington, Del., and was fishing his first White Marlin Open. “He jumped around a little bit.”
Kline, who is from Laytonsville, Md., wasn’t completely heartbroken after being topped on the final day. Because “Wee Wun IV” hadn’t entered the Class E category in the Calcutta betting system, Kline’s second-place showing still netted him more money than Coen’s first-place fish - $758,828.
John Schmitz, who is from Westminster, Md., aboard “Sea Note” finished third and won $126,377 in the white marlin category with a 79.5-pounder caught Thursday.
“We missed a lot of fish (Thursday),” Devenny said. “We were so happy to catch this one. Today it was like a lake out there. You couldn’t ask for better marlin conditions. It was just beautiful.”
The 47-year-old boat captain from Wilmington, Del., has competed in the White Marlin Open for the past “eight or nine years.”
“I won some money one other time for a first-place shark,” Devenny said.
Although the fishing conditions were good, the White Marlin Open leaderboard did very little changing on the final day. John Schindler of Severna Park, Md., aboard “Restless Lady” took first place in the only blue marlin entry with his 699.5-pounder caught Thursday, which was worth $379,677.
Chip Caruso of Colts Neck, N.J., aboard “Pipe Dreamer” remained in first place in the tuna category with a 279-pound bigeye that was caught Tuesday and paid $312,990.
Gordon McNamara of Baltimore, Md., aboard “Ranger” stayed in first place in the dolphin category with a 41.5-pounder caught Wednesday, which paid $2,000. Donald Schline of Baltimore, Md., aboard “Reel Estate” was the big money winner in that category with a 38.9-pounder caught Monday, which paid $11,930 due to Calcutta entries.
William Bayne of Arlington, Va., aboard “Reel Desire” won the wahoo category with a 71-pounder caught Tuesday, which paid $26,325. And Matt Cusamano of Stone Harbor, N.J., aboard “Canyon Lady” remained the only qualifying entry in the shark category with a 107.5-pound mako, which paid $6,500.
Before final tallies were made, the WMO retained its usual high release rate of fish, as there were 689 white marlin caught and released in the five-day tournament while only 18 were brought to the scales. In the blue marlin category, 39 were caught and released and only one was brought to the scales.