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Ocean City boat wins White Marlin Open, hauls in world record $4.4 million fish

Virginian-Pilot
Virginian-Pilot
 2022-08-13

A hometown boat won the largest prize in the 49th annual White Marlin Open for the second consecutive year when Billfisher — based in Ocean City, Maryland — pocketed more than $4.4 million Friday night.

Billfisher landed a 77.5-pound white marlin Friday to top the $3.2 million won last year by Sushi, also an Ocean City boat.

The C- Student, of Southside Place, Texas, on Thursday landed the tournament’s first white marlin, a 71.5-pounder, and finished second to win an estimated $120,000.

Billfisher was the first boat to the scales Friday afternoon, and the weigh-in set off a raucous celebration on the dock at Harbour Island Marina. Jeremy Duffie, of Bethesda, Maryland, reeled in the fish.

The tournament’s website reported Friday that the final payout for the winning fish will be a world-record total for one fish of close to $4.5 million.

“We kept looking at it, we weren’t sure, we weren’t sure,” crew member Danny Gough told WJLA-TV after the weigh-in. “We finally gaffed it, measured it, 71 inches. ... It looked thick and we just prayed it was 70 pounds. Now we got 77. Sweet!”

Billfisher’s victory capped a frenzied final two days at the event billed as the “World’s Largest and Richest Billfish Tournament.” No white marlin or blue marlin had been caught on the tournament’s first three days.

The C- Student’s catch Thursday put the Texas boat in line for the top prize, but Billfisher came to the docks just an hour after the scales opened Friday evening.

The Cabana (Fenwick Island, Delaware) brought the tournament’s first blue marlin to the scales on Thursday and held onto the top spot. Bill Britt, of Sandy Spring, Maryland, landed the 511-pounder that is worth an estimated $960,000.

Other category winners, with estimated payouts, according to the tournament’s website:

Tuna : Southern C’s, Ocean City, Maryland, 247.5 pounds, $940,000

Wahoo : Jenny Poo, Palm Beach, Florida, 71 pounds, $20,000

Dolphin : Irene, Stuart, Florida, 59.5 pounds, $24,000

Komotose, a boat based in Manteo, North Carolina, finished third in the tuna category with a 242.5-pounder worth an estimated $320,000.

Only one Virginia boat finished on the leaderboard: Chincoteague-based 10-4 Joker was second in the dolphin category with a 21-pounder worth $19,000. Chincoteague’s Vernon Merritt Jr. was the angler.

The five-day tournament featured 408 registered boats and an estimated total purse of $8.6 million.

Jami Frankenberry, 757-446-2376, jami.frankenberry@pilotonline.com

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