Ocean City is renowned as the white marlin capital of the world. It was President Franklin Roosevelt who first awarded Ocean City that title after a prosperous day spent fishing at the Inlet in 1939, and the town has more than lived up to its designation in the decades since.
This past week, Ocean City celebrated the White Marlin Open, if not the largest, one of the largest open water billfish tournaments around. Thousands of spectators’ flocked to the inlet in the pre-dawn hours to cheer for the boats large and small as they head out to sea in search of gamefish worth their weight in gold. Thousands more gathered at Harbour Island to view the weigh-ins each afternoon during “Tournament Week” to cheer as fortunes change hands with the tip of a scale.
The town continues to celebrate the win of our local high school math teacher, who became the first repeat winner of the world’s largest billfish tournament with a 79 1/2-pound white marlin that was worth $1.5 million from a world-record purse of $6,186,870 in the 46th White Marlin Open.
As the name states, the White Marlin Open is open to all anglers. While the Open attracts some very skilled billfishermen, the format helps level the playing field and novice anglers have also won millions while fishing the tournament including last year’s top winner who caught his first ever white marlin and netted $1.6 million dollars for his catch. We have no age restrictions and young anglers have also fared well while fishing the Open including one teenager who won the top white award and one who took the top blue marlin money.
White Marlin Fun Facts
- The white marlin’s upper jaw, also known as its bill, is twice the size of its lower jaw. White marlins use their bills to stun fast-moving prey, which include small fish like mackerel and flying fish.
- White marlin are known to put up a fight when hooked, leaping into the air and waving their tail around.
- They have an average lifespan of 25-30 years.
- While they inhabit waters deeper than 100 m, the white marlin swims closer to the surface. When swimming they’re known to show off a technique called “tailing,” where the dorsal lobe of their caudal fin can be seen peaking above the surface of the water.
White Marlin in Ocean City
- White marlin fishing season in Ocean City typically begins in mid to late June. The earliest documented catch was May 25, and the latest documented catch was June 20. The season is over by early September.
- The Town of Ocean City awards a $5,000 prize to the fisherman who makes the first catch of the year, while the Ocean City Marlin Club and Fishermen United for Ocean City each award $5,000 prizes of their own. That’s how the crew of the Stalker took home around $15,000 this year for making the first catch of 2018.
- The largest white marlin catch of the WMO was a 99-pounder caught by Steve Bass in 1980. The largest white marlin ever caught on record was 181 pounds, caught off the coast of Brazil in 1979. The state record for Maryland is 135 pounds.
In addition to the exceedingly popular white marlin open, Ocean City offers a surplus of fishing tournaments for any and all groups.
Annual OCMC Memorial Day Blue Fish Tournament
Memorial Day | Ocean City Marlin Club | 410.213.1613
The Memorial Day Blue Fish Tournament is a recreational angling tournament To benefit the Catherine & Charles Kratz Memorial Foundation and Scholarship Fund. Accepted methods of recreational angling are allowed.
Annual Mid-Atlantic Mako Mania
June | Bahia Marina | 410.289.7438
The Mako Mania is a Mako shark tournament with added entry levels for bluefish and thresher shark. This tournament is traditionally the start of the tournament season in Ocean City. Mako mania was started in 1996 by Captain Steve Harman and continues to grow every year. The Mako Mania is unique in that boats of all sizes can compete with decent weather. Daily weigh-ins will be held at Bahia Marina from 3:30-7:30pm each fishing day. Stop by, have a beverage and something to eat at Fish Tales while watching the sharks come in to be weighed.
Annual Marlin Club Small Boat Tournament
June | Ocean City Marlin Club | 410.213.1613
The Annual Small Boat Tournament is open to all anglers and boats 34’ and under. LOA must be listed on the manufacturers specifications as 34 feet or less.
Annual Marlin Club Canyon Kick Off
July | Ocean City Marlin Club | 410.213.1613
The Annual Canyon Kickoff tournament is held in the beginning of July. This is a 2 of 3-day event. While it is open to all anglers, entry for the tournament is free to OCMC Boat Members. This is an offshore event with prizes for Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and Billfish Releases.
Annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament
July | Ocean City Fishing Center & Sunset Marina | 410.213.1121
The Annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament is the original tuna tournament and boats big cash prizes for heaviest single tuna, heaviest stringer, single largest dolphin, single largest wahoo, and more! Enjoy a weekend of fun and competition. Can’t fish but still want to be a part of the fun? Join everyone at the scales for weigh-ins or come on down to the docks and watch the excitement as the fish come in and get weighed. Tournament features live entertainment, delicious food, cold drinks, tight lines and good times.
Annual Kid’s Classic
July | Ocean City Marlin Club | 410.213.1613
The Annual Kids Classic is open to any angler 19 years of age and younger. There are categories for both inshore and offshore species. A highlight of this event is the Awards Party which features a carnival under the clubhouse including food, games and prizes. Every angler receives an award! A portion of the proceeds is donated to the Wish-A-Fish Foundation.
Annual Big Fish Classic
July | Talbot Street Pier | 410.213.0325
The Annual Big Fish Classic is returning tournament sport fishing in Ocean City Maryland to the Pier that started the tournament craze. Talbot Street Pier is the original pier that weighed some of the first fish in OC nearly 100 years ago and has been loading the docks with catches ever since.
Heels and Reels
August | Ocean City Marlin Club | 410.213.1613
The Annual OCMC Ladies Tournament, or the “Heels and Reels” as it has come to be known, is held in August every year. This is a 1 of 2 day event for lady anglers only. There are prizes for Billfish releases, largest Mahi Mahi, largest Tuna, and a top Junior Angler award is presented as well. This tournament benefits the OCMC Auxiliary Scholarship Fund.
Annual White Marlin Open
August | Harbour Island Marina & Sunset Marina | 410.289.9229
The White Marlin Open is considered the most successful tournament yet for a number of reasons: 404 boats fishing for a World Record $6,186,870 in prize money is a good start. The red hot billfishing set a tournament record for the number of billfish caught and released. The prize money paid included two anglers that each won over $1,500,000, a blue marlin won $962,165, a tuna that took $935,915, a dolphin that won $74,900, and a shark that won $231,300.
Annual Capt. Steve Harman Poor Girl’s Open
August | Bahia Marina | 410.289.7473
The Poor Girls Open is a ladies only billfish release tournament benefiting breast cancer research. There are also added entry levels for tuna and dolphin. This tournament was started by Capt. Steve Harman as a way for local waitresses and bartenders to have an affordable and fun competition while raising money for a very important cause. The tournament continues to grow with over 100 boats entering. Participation is not limited only to anglers as there are silent auctions, 50/50 tickets, T-shirts for sale, and other fun events helping to raise money for breast cancer research. In the past 3 years alone, the Poor Girls Open has raised over $100,000 that was donated to the American Cancer Society.
August | Sunset Marina | 410.213.9600
Since its inception, The MidAtlantic has continually set the standard for big game fishing tournaments in terms of prize money, hospitality, and conservation. The annually held MidAtlantic Tournament is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that create memories to last a lifetime for all participants. Which is why each August, boat owners, captains and crews come together from all over the world to compete in this great event!
The event is staged out of two world renowned ports; Cape May, NJ, where the Canyon Club Resort Marina is the home base of the tournament and Ocean City, MD, with Sunset Marina serving as the second port’s headquarters. Along with their prime locations, each port has first class accommodations and offers distinct amenities for participants to enjoy while dockside. Both locations have fully run weigh-ins simultaneously, which are broadcast via our livestream media to keep everyone informed as the excitement happens and the participants take center stage.
Annual Labor Day White Marlin Tournament
Labor Day Weekend| OC Marlin Club | 410.213.1613
This is a 2 of 3 day event open to all anglers. Entry fee is free to OCMC Boat Members. This is an offshore tournament with prizes for largest Tuna, largest mahi mahi, and most Billfish Releases. A trophy is also presented to the Master Angler of the tournament. This event is the oldest White Marlin Tournament on the east coast.
September | Bahia Marina | 410.289.7473
The Bahia Marina Flounder Pounder is a one day fishing tournament for flounder. This tournament is a lot of fun and great for the kids. You may fish from your own boat or rent a skiff, skimmer, or pontoon from the marina if you wish.
Annual September 11th Memorial Spot Tournament
September | Ocean City Fishing Center | 410.213.1121
Annual Challenge Cup
September | OC Marlin Club | 410.213.1613
The Annual Scott Smith & Charles Kratz Challenge Cup is a friendly competition between the Ocean City Marlin Club and the Cape May Marlin & Tuna Club. This is a billfish release only tournament. Only Boat members from either club are eligible to enter. Each club must field a minimum of 6 teams. This is a 2 of 2 day event.
Annual Ocean City Inshore Classic
October | Atlantic Tackle | 410.430.1016
The Ocean City Inshore Classic is a 32 hour inshore fishing tournament with categories for Rockfish, Flounder, Tautog and Open. $75 registration per boat includes Captain. $50 each for each additional angler up to 5. 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place prizes will be paid in all four categories and $25, $50, $100 and $200 calcuttas will be paid to the largest fish in each category. Open Division will recognize the following fish only: Bluefish, Grey Trout, Speckled Trout, Sheepshead, Black Drum, Red Drum and Croaker.
Annual Marlin Club Rockfish Tournament
December | OC Marlin Club | 410.213.1613
This is a 5 of 9 day event open to all anglers. This event has prizes for the largest Rockfish and Bluefish weighed during the event. Proceeds from this tournament benefit the Saint Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
To learn more about Eastern Shore living and other concierge level seacrets in Ocean City, contact Mechelle Nichols, Luxury Collection Specialist, at 410.430.1575 (cell) or mnichols@LuxuryShoreLiving.com.