The 46th annual 2019 White Marlin Open can be 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.

2019 white marlin open
Tommy Hinkle is the first angler in tournament history to win the top white marlin twice! Courtesy of the WMO

As impressive as the payouts were, equally remarkable was the huge number of marlin caught and released. By definition nobody saw them at the scales, but the release flags flew all week. The tournament record was 1358 whites caught in 2016 but the anglers topped that by over 100 fish. The final count was 1459 whites caught with 1429 released with the top release boat, Big Deal out of Brielle, NJ, breaking a 39-year-old record for most billfish releases by boat. The previous record was 26 white taken by the Escapade in 1980. In addition to the white marlin, the boats took 47 blue marlin with 46 released, and 13 sailfish were released, as well as the two spearfish caught. The total number of all billfish caught in the 46th Open was a staggering 1521.

In the money divisions, basically, the big fish in most categories on Thursday held their spots after the last day of fishing. Ocean City, MD, native Tommy Hinkle weighed a 79.5-pound white marlin on Thursday while fishing aboard the Fish Whistle out of Indian River, DE. The fish took first place and netted Tommy $1,504,720. Hinkle had also won the top white marlin in 2008 making Tommy the first angler in tournament history to win the top white marlin twice! The Backlash out of Virginia Beach, VA, kept took home $1,502,450 for the 73.5-pound white caught on Monday by angler Michael Wagner from La Plata, MD. Chasing Tails with angler Nate Walker, both from Virginia Beach, VA, caught their 74-pound white on Monday and earned $135,000 (they were entered in fewer added entry levels than Backlash).

The 465.5-pound blue marlin caught on Tuesday by Craig Dickerson from Pasadena, MD, aboard the Haulin N Ballin out of Ocean City, MD, was the only qualifier in that division and Dickerson won $962,165 for his blue.

The Crisdel out of Ocean City, MD, weighed in a 201-pound bigeye caught by Russell Garufi from Bishopville, MD, on Monday and stayed in first the whole week to take home $935,915. The Seakeeper from Wilmington, DE, weighed a 150.5-pound Allison tuna on Friday. The angler was Andrew Semprevivo from Mystic Island, NJ, who took second place and won $135,432 for his efforts. Ocean City native Ronnie Fields weighed a 145.5-pound tuna off the Mjolnir out of Bay Point, FL, on Tuesday and held on to win $128,675.

2019 white marlin open
The Fish Whistle out of Indian River, DE, netted $1,504,720. Courtesy of the WMO

The 277.5-pound mako shark caught Monday by Greg Robinson aboard the Polarizer out of Ocean City, MD, was the only shark weighed and netted him $231,300 from the “Big Fish” pool.

The Give It Away out of Jupiter, FL,took over first place in the wahoo division with a monster 91-pound fish caught by Anne Aramandia from New Braufels, TX, who won $24,475. Other winners in the wahoo division were the The Natural, who won $23,475, Keepin It Reel who won $20,475 and the Nighthawk out of Brielle, NJ, with angler Jay Monteverdi, also from Brielle who won $20,475.

The big winner in the dolphin division was the Miss-Tress out of Brielle, NJ, with Randy Drozd also from Brielle. The Miss-Tress was in the small boat dolphin division and the 38-pound dolphin weighed on Friday won $74,900. The first place 41-pounder taken off the Playmate out of Ocean City, MD, won $20,380 while the second place dolphin was caught off the Stewart, FL, boat Irene. Angler Frank Sinito form Jupiter, FL, won just $3000 as the boat was not entered in extra added skill levels.

In the Small Boat Division, it was Tommy Hinkle with the top white which helped his winnings grow to $1,504,720. The heavy fish was taken by the Reeldiculous angler Graham Ward who caught a 121-pound yellowfin good for $108,000.

Top Release Anglers

White Marlin Open Grand Champion

Ed Russo from Carlstadt, NJ, Fishing on Big Deal out of Brielle, NJ
1190 points, 17 white marlin released

Second Place Angler

Robert Wedeking from Princeton, NJ, Fishing on Override out of Brielle, NJ
910 points, 13 white marlin released

Third Place Angler

Victor Roof, Jr. Fishing on Game On out of Charleston, SC
875 points, 10 white marlin and one blue marlin released

Fourth Place Angler

Nicholas Rodriguez from Dover, DE, Fishing on Par Five out of Dover, DE
735 points, eight white marlin and one blue marlin released

Fifth Place Angler

Dante Rodriguez from Egg Harbor, NJ, Fishing on MJs out of Cape May, NJ
735 points, eight white marlin and one blue marlin released

Top Release Boats

  1. Big Deal out of Brielle, NJ, 1960 points, 27 white marlin released (broke a 39-year-old tournament record for most release points by a boat. The previous record was 1949 billfish points by the Escapade in 1980 which consisted of 24 white marlin released and two boated.) - $84,150
  2. Uno Mas out of Ocean City, MD: 1785 points, 23 white marlin and one blue marlin released -  $31,860
  3. Tar Heel out of Wanchese, NC: 1750 points, 25 white marlin released - $28,800