Tales of the White Marlin Open

Fishermen (l-r) John Garvey, Drew Pelton, Roger Mooney, and Brad Diaz pose with the 75-pound white marlin that put the Penta Gone in third place at the White Marlin Open. SOURCE SUBMITTED
August 20, 2011

On last Thursday I was a guest of Volvo Penta on the company's 70-foot Spencer, the Penta Gone. The boat was entered in the White Marlin Open out of Ocean City, Md., and had already fished on Monday and Tuesday. It took a lay day on Wednesday, so we were fishing the last day of eligibility, as each boat can fish three of the five days between Monday and Friday.

The Penta Gone was designed by the engineers at Volvo Penta and is powered by three Volvo Penta IPS Pod Drives. This system provides fuel economy and maneuverability not found on any other engine type. Since the exhaust is discharged underwater, the noise level on the boat is exceedingly quiet. With the boat running at 30 knots, you can hold a conversation in the salon without raising your voice.

We were underway by 5 a.m. and arrived at the tip of the Washington Canyon, 60 miles southeast of the inlet, by 7. Since lines are not allowed in the water before 8:30, we had time to explore the area looking for bait, birds or any other sign of life. Capt. Ed Szilagyi finally decided on a location and we had our lines in within minutes of the starting time.

Ed had asked me to bring a few eels, as they are a great white marlin bait.  The mate, Brad Diaz, was a bit skeptical, but rigged the eels with a single circle hook. The 30-pound outfit with the eel was run from the bridge on the center rigger.

We had been fishing for almost an hour when the pin snapped on the center rigger and we were hooked to what we hoped would be a big white marlin.  When the fish first showed itself everyone on board held their breath because it looked like a very big white. As the angler, John Garvey, cranked the fish closer to the boat we recognized it as a small blue marlin. After a pretty good battle, Brad was able to turn the fish loose and we were on the board with a blue marlin release.

I am not going into detail on the conversation between the captain and mate concerning the effectiveness of eels when marlin fishing. I will say this one was a winner for those of us from the old school.

Around noon (I know the time because I was eating my lunch) a white piled on one of the ballyhoo baits, and Roger Moody from Jarrett Bay Boats cranked it in for another release. By this time the breeze out of the northeast had freshened a bit and was blowing 15 to 20 knots. The result was waves of six to eight feet, and I was very glad to be onboard a 70-foot boat. In spite of the sea conditions, Ed was able to back the boat down using the fishing setting on the IPS units and even moved to free the line from a lobster ball the marlin had run around.

At 2:45 another white took another ballyhoo and Roger once again had the rod. This fish grayhounded all over the ocean and then went deep and held on for what seemed like an eternity. It looked pretty big, and when Bret finally had it to the boat he decided it would make the minimum length of 67 inches.  Once onboard, the marlin hit 69 inches and we finally had a fish to weigh in.

With 15 minutes left before the 3:30 lines out call we put the spread back over, but saw no more action.

Once the tackle was secured we headed in. With the seas running high, Ed kept the speed to 25 knots and the boat just glided along. A 30-foot center console with three big outboards fell in behind us and followed the Penta Gone most of the way back. As the wind and sea subsided, we were able to return to our 30-knot cruising speed, and the center console soon moved off.

While the Volvo Penta IPS Pod system is spectacular when running and fishing, it is absolutely in a class by itself when docking or holding position. Using the joystick, Ed could move the big boat into the smallest space and then by pushing a button on the dash, hold the boat in position without touching another control.

The crew at the weigh-in unloaded our marlin and hoisted it on the scales.  It weighed 75 pounds, putting the boat in third place.  While we all hoped the weight would hold, none of us expected it would.  On Friday we lost out to the Sea Note, which had a 79.5-pounder and ended up winning $126,277 for third.

First place and $289,063 went to Wee Wun IV with a 88.5-pound white, while Tighten Up came in second with an 86.5-pounder and won $758,828. The reason second paid more than first is because Tighten Up entered more levels (Calcuttas) than Wee Wun IV.

It was a great day on a great boat with a great crew, and I hope to do it again next year.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at

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