White Marlin Open sees massive payout

August 19, 2017

The 44th White Marlin Open is over and the massive checks have been given out, so let’s hope we don’t have another cheating incident this year. While we didn’t set a record for the number of boats entered or the number of marlin caught, it was still the largest purse ever offered by the tournament. The total was $4.9 million.

The Wire Nut out of Ocean City took first place with a 95.5-pound white marlin caught by Glen Frost from Stevensville, Md. The payout for that fish was $1,645,800. Second place was worth almost as much as first place, as the Griffin from Palm Beach, Fla., put angler Mike Donohue from Wilmington on an 86-pound white worth $1,525,960.

The top tuna was a 68.5-pound yellowfin caught on the Intents out of Jupiter, Fla., by Joe Sandler from Palm Beach, Fla., and worth $866,553. Second place in the tuna category went to the Blue Runner from Manasquan, N.J., caught by James Boynton, also from Manasquan. That fish was only worth $90,380.

Only one dolphin over the 20-pound minimum size was entered. The 23-pounder was caught on the Silly Money out of Annapolis, Md., by Andrew Cohen from Ashton, Md., and paid out $74,841. The top wahoo weighed 55 pounds and was caught by Gary Capuano from Annapolis on the Hog Wild out of Manteo, N.C. The payout for that fish was $27,841. Only one shark made it to the scales, and it weighed 126 pounds, caught on the Restless Lady from Ocean City by Frank Snover from White Township, N.J. That fish was worth $7,091.

During the tournament, there were 390 white marlin caught and 19 brought to the dock for a release ratio of 95 percent. Only 34 blue marlin were taken and because none met the 114-inch minimum size, none were killed.

Next year will be the 45th White Marlin Open, and I hope to be a small part of that event. I was lucky enough to ride along with Jim Motsko during his first tournament and to be a reporter for almost half of the others. I hope to snag a ride for the 45th.

Prime Hook deer hunting

There has been a major change in how you apply for a permit to hunt during the 2017-18 deer seasons at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. You must apply in person at the Prime Hook headquarters office on the refuge.  

All applications must be received no later than Friday, Sept. 15. This will include both the early (Nov. 18) and the late (Jan. 20, 2018) seasons. No applications will be received over the telephone or on the Prime Hook website. The refuge headquarters is located off Route 16 on Turkle Pond Road near Milton.

If you have any questions, call the refuge at 302-684-8419. All regulations pertaining to hunting on Prime Hook will be placed online at the Prime Hook website,

Fishing report

Flounder fishing has definitely improved, not only in the ocean, but also at Indian River and in the Delaware Bay. Of the three locations, your best chance for catching a keeper is in the ocean. The Old Grounds is the most popular destination, but reef sites 10 and 11 have also given up some nice fish. A bucktail decorated with squid, a live minnow, cut bait or Gulp! has been very effective. Adding a teaser 6 to 10 inches above the bucktail can improve your success rate.

In the bay, reef sites are the only locations that hold any flounder, and they don’t hold many. Here too bucktails have been very productive. The reef sites also give up triggerfish on small pieces of clam.  

The fishing pier at Cape Henlopen State Park has seen as many as two keeper flounder per day. More spot and croaker have been caught here on bloodworms.

The Lewes-Rehoboth Canal is seeing a few more flounder, plus the first run of croaker and spot. Try bucktails or live minnows for the flounder, with bloodworms for the croaker and spot.

We have seen some impressive sheepshead come from the Ice Breakers and the Outer Wall. The largest to date was a 10.49-pounder caught by Bill Fintel at the Ice Breakers on a sand flea. Green crabs will also take the sheepshead. A few triggerfish are taken along with the sheepshead.

Down at Fenwick Shoal, blues and Spanish mackerel have been caught over the inshore wrecks by trolling with 0 Drone spoons. Fishing over the wrecks has produced a few triggerfish.

Trolling the offshore grounds has not been red hot. A few tuna and billfish have been caught so some charter boats have been deep dropping for tilefish with good success.

  • 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