One of the biggest misconceptions about the White Marlin Open is that only experienced offshore anglers have a chance to win the big money. A look at the recent Tournament history shows that almost half the winners have had limited deep-sea fishing experience. Last summer’s top individual award of $1.6 million dollars went to Glen Frost of Stevensville, MD who’s 95.5-pound white marlin was his first ever billfish catch. Like Frost, Doug Remsberg had never caught a billfish. As a matter of fact, Doug had never even been billfishing before but that didn’t stop Doug and a group of friends from pooling their money to enter the 2003 tournament. The group chartered the Lazy Bones out of Ocean City and Doug’s first billfish catch was a 78.5-pound white marlin that took first place in the 2003 event and won $1,300,000! In 1989, Dr. Jim Daniel’s first billfish turned out to be a Maryland State Record 942-pound blue marlin. Over the past 10 years, among anglers catching their first billfish include a $780,000 winner, a $415,000 winner, 3 winners of more than $300,000 and 6 anglers whose 1st ever billfish catch earned over $100,000.
Want to bring your kids along? Tom Gessler Jr was 16 when he caught the winning white in 1993 earning a Rolex watch and enough money for college tuition. The next year another 16-year-old, Grant Connellee, muscled in a 709.5-pound blue marlin to win that category. Over the past 44 years the tournament has presented numerous awards to anglers that were too young to vote.
How have women anglers performed? While we don’t keep detailed statistics on achievements based on age or gender, a cursory review suggests that women have competed equally with their male counterparts including Cheryl McLeskey’s 94-pound white marlin that took first place and earned $1,175,000 at the 2015 Tournament. Though women comprise a minority of entered anglers, a woman has won the Tournament’s Top Angler award 4 times. The only tournament angler to win two prestigious Master Angler Rings (the tournament’s highest honor) is Kitty Faulk from Virginia Beach, VA. Women anglers have taking top prize money in every species catch category, have set world records while fishing the Open and have bested all comers in billfish releases in many tournaments. Gender doesn’t seem to matter to the fish or skill set of the angler.
An estimated $5 Million dollars will be awarded to anglers with diverse backgrounds and a wide range fishing experience during this year’s 46th Annual WMO which runs from August 5 to August 9, 2019. It’s possible that yet another angler will become a millionaire by catching their first billfish. Where will you be in early August 2019?