World Record Fishing Tournament Payout of $4.5 Million

By Scott Lenox

World Record Fishing Tournament Payout of $4.5 Million

Check out our tour of Atlantic Tackle in West Ocean City!

I just returned from the awards banquet for the 49th Annual White Marlin Open and it was an awesome experience.  Andy Motsko announced all of the winners ending with what is the largest payout for a fishing tournament in history.  It’s really cool that a local family  and business in Duffie Boatworks was the big winner in the WMO this year as they will be supporting the local fishing community for many years to come.  On Friday, Billfisher pulled into the scales at Harbour Island and weighed a 77.5 pound white marlin that won first place in the white marlin category and all of the white marlin winner-take-all calcuttas.  The final tally was a whopping $4,536,926 which is a world record payout for a fishing tournament.  Pretty awesome that it happened right here in our backyard!  Congratulations to all of the winners and to the Motsko family for running another incredible tournament.  I’m proud to be a part of it!

Braden Fisher threw his own cast net, caught his own mullet and then used them to land this nice 23″, 4 pound flounder.  Braden was fishing the east channel on the OCD out of the West OC based Albatross Fishing Fleet captained by Bruce Bostic.

Captain Marc Spagnola of Dusk to Dawn Bowfishing had another nice day on the water putting his shooters on some good ray action.

Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star saw some big sea bass over his rail today.

Weatherman dropped today’s forecast out substantially. Barely 15 from the NE is what it looked like. 

Oh funny man. 

Ha Ha Ha..

Well, we were there & ground it out. 

Day began with the smallest mahi I’ve ever seen in a school. Perhaps over a hundred swimming around, they were tiny but voracious. We kept a few for bait, a few better ones for a sandwich, and put a bunch back. Come upon several more schools and even saw a few decent ones we couldn’t persuade to chew. 

Sea bass will sometimes bite the bottom off a boat when it’s rough. Not today. Wasn’t a bust, not by a long shot – just had to work at em. Crazy Horse custom rods’ proprietor, David, boxed out – landed his 15 keepers. (Builds some sweet sticks – promise! I had a heavy sea bass rod built, but Courtney caught a bluefin on it and I haven’t seen it since!) Robert boated the largest/heaviest sea bass & Bob was our guest reef builder. My crew (one at a time and on my orders) jigged enough cbass to pay the rent and have some left to fry – even for me. A couple fellows didn’t seem to have medicated which resulted in an extremely low catch for them. 

Come afternoon the bite improved every moment as wind and seas laid down. By the time I pulled anchor to head for home is was dern near calm. Wasn’t long before sea conditions were perfect.

We’ve got a high-tech buoy off OC reading all manner of instrumentation, including wind and sea height. It’s slam in the way on a common course offshore, you have to watch out for it. If real pretty water sneaks way inshore you can even catch a mahi under it. It’s owned by our new ocean partners; errr, whatever wind company currently has the MD lease. I’ve heard enough of their high promises and gone to dozens of meetings. They’re gonna do this and that and Wow, won’t that be awesome – then the lease changes hands and you start over. Whatever. You’d as soon stop an Amtrak train at full speed. 

Those wind guys with the fancy buoy, they hold wind speed and wave height as proprietary. 

Nope. Won’t share real time weather data. It’s a secret. 

Now, NOAA had a buoy not 10 miles north of the modern top secret buoy. It was (is) seaward of the DE Bay SE sea lanes buoy. It worked fine for ages when marine weather forecasts and reports were only found on VHF radio. We used to listen intently for the buoy report. Boats up and down the dock would have it blaring. Just about time your attention wavered a moment, the report would be read and gone, then you’d have to listen 10 more minutes though a new cycle. 

That buoy started giving NOAA trouble; gosh, 15 years ago? More? Capt. Greg Hall even took a repair crew out for free on his “Titan America” in the mid 2000s. After multiple new instrument sets – none of which ever worked very long – it remains offline. Firmly in the age of data on demand, dot-guv has an F minus for real time wind while our marine partners in ocean and global environmental health & wind power have their secrets. 

Perhaps an oversight? ..or, “Hey fishermen, meet your new neighbors.” 

As the Melians noted some thousands of years ago concerning tribute to Athens, “The strong do what they can while the weak suffer what they must.” 

In 2013, 14, & 15 wind surveys ran the sea bass out of over 500 square miles of bottom. NOAA kept their mouths shut while BOEM called me a liar. “Surveys have no affect on fish. None.”

Here’s a direct comparison between the exact same reefs from 2004 & 2015 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=46ahNqo8geE

Are things getting better? 

We lost almost three weeks of high volume sea bass sales in December because NOAA’s recreational catch estimates, which show VA’s private boats jogging along, catching 15 to 20,000 sea bass in Nov/Dec most years through 2020 (that’s really high, nonsense actually, but at least consistent) then – BOOM!! Greedy Overfishing Scoundrels! – VA’s cbass in Nov/Dec 21 shot to 240,000 fish – or 500,000 lbs.. 

Up an order of magnitude while VA Party/Charter reported under 4,000 fish for the same period. 

And THAT’s the data used to make regulation. VA’s Private Boats “overfished” so our whole region went up a half an inch and lost almost three weeks of season. 

Would that regulators had a better idea what was actually happening.. 

Oh, miracle of miracles – when a survey boat was outfitted with brand new gear in the final 2021 surveys, that boat didn’t bother sea bass and flounder at all. 

Gosh. 

Almost as if they knew exactly what frequencies to remove. 

But my work? 

All baloney. 

Always is with the feds. 

Always. 

Cheers 

Monty

New Back Deck Fishing Report is up on our YouTube!!

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