The 404 registered boats carrying over 3,100 competitors will be vying for a world record fishing purse of $6.1 million during the 5 day event. The 46th edition of the "World's Largest and Richest Billfish Tournament" has all of the elements to produce even bigger fish stories than the 45 previous tournaments. The prize money is $700,000 more than last year's winnings and coupled with good weather and warm water at the canyons, the 2019 Open could be the most dramatic tournament ever.
The White Marlin Open awards money for catches of white and blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, dolphin and shark. It is the billfish that bring the biggest prize money and last year's top white marlin won over $2.5 million with the top blue marlin netting $924,936. But the tuna category has been nearing the $1,000,000 mark as well. The top tuna in 2016 and 2017 earned $750,000 and $860,000 respectively and the top tuna in 2018 earned $904,851. With more money in all categories this year the awards should be even larger.
According to tournament director Jim Motsko, "the fishing is spotty but with over 400 boats fishing, they will find the fish." The sea temperatures show warm water inside the canyons and conditions are similar to 2016 when 1,412 billfish were caught.
While practicing for the Open last Sunday, a Maryland angler caught a State Record dolphin of 72.8 pounds, smashing a 39 year old record of 67.8 pounds. Many boats fishing the last few days are flying a lot of white marlin release flags on their return.
Monday's weather forecast should have the bulk of the boats fishing which means a busy morning at the inlet and a lot of action at the Harbour Island scales from 4pm - 9:15pm.