Thousands of anglers looking to score big at the Super Bowl of fishing in Ocean City

Thousands watched as a 199-pound big-eyed tuna was weighed Monday. (Courtesy White Marlin Open)
The Super Bowl of fishing is taking over Ocean City, Maryland, this week. It will be the 50th time anglers aim to bring in the big catch at the White Marlin Open.

Thousands watched as a 199-pound, big-eyed tuna was weighed Monday. If it remains in first place, it could net the anglers that caught it $1 million.

“It’s electric,” White Marlin Open Tournament director Madelyne Motsko told WTOP. “We have crowds of 7,000 people that come nightly to our weigh-ins.”

Some 400 boats are out on the water this year, looking to snag part of this year’s $10.3 million purse. They will have a 100-mile-arc around the Ocean City sea buoy to find the biggest tuna, dolphin, wahoo, swordfish and white and blue marlin.

“You know, right now, if the winning white marlin is across the board in all the categories, it could be a $6 million fish,” said Motsko, “and a half a pound can separate a $6 million fish from a fish that’s worth very little or nothing.”

While dozens of fish will be weighed this week, according to the tournament, 98% of all the fish caught are released afterwards and the majority of the anglers that bring in fish to weigh donate them to the Maryland Food Bank.

“We are the largest supplier of protein to the Maryland Food Bank in the whole state every year. Every year, typically, we’re over 2000 pounds of fish that get donated,” said Motsko.

The tournament was started in 1974 by Madelyne’s father, Jim Motsko.

“It has just turned into, you know, the world’s largest and richest billfish tournament. A lot of hard work along the way, a lot of blood, sweat and tears, a lot of sleepless nights worrying about what the offshore weather forecast was going to look like during the tournament week,” Madelyne Motsko said about the anniversary. “It’s very humbling that our participants have gotten us this far and we’re really grateful.”

One of this year’s participants looking to score big did so on the basketball court for years: basketball legend Michael Jordan.

“Yep, his boat, Catch 23, registered with us and they are participating. It would be really fun if he came to the scales,” jokes Motsko. “It’s definitely a fun little feather in our cap.”

The White Marlin Open will last until Aug. 11.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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