OCEAN CITY -- About 4 p.m. yesterday, word started getting around that someone in the White Marlin Open was hooked up with a blue marlin estimated near 800 pounds -- and had been hooked up since roughly 10 a.m.
But while the spectators at Harbor Island Marina were awaiting the outcome of the battle with a blue marlin more than 60 miles offshore, Mike McNab, 16, was one fish from the lead in the race to be top angler in this tournament.
McNab, a senior at Dulaney High School, hooked and released two white marlin yesterday at the tip of Washington Canyon.
After two days of fishing, McNab has 150 points along with Dan Hart and Jude Welsh. Robert Henly leads with 225 points, and A. J. "Slim" Flinchum is second with 220 points.
Now, if being in contention for the top angler award may seem like heady company for a high school senior, take into consideration that the kid has been fishing or along for the ride in this tournament for 10 years.
"Both the fish we released were about 55 pounds," said McNab, who fishes on his father's boat, Reel Machine. "We fished Monday and didn't get a thing. And today the fishing conditions were good."
Yesterday, the McNabs chose to fish Washington Canyon after being shut out over Baltimore Canyon the day before.
Paul Daisey, who is the captain aboard Reel Machine, said: "The good news is that we had six white marlin up and one blue. The bad news is that we caught only two."
George McNab, also known as Mike's dad, won the top angler award in 1986 on the strength of a 713-pound blue marlin, and Mike placed fourth a couple of years ago.
"We have been lucky from time to time," said Mike's dad, who owns Mac Machine Company, which builds prosthetics and aerospace equipment. "Without it, you are at a disadvantage. But luck is nothing more than preparation and opportunity coming together."
Yesterday, both seemed to be at the same place at the same time, and perhaps they will be again tomorrow, when the McNabs plan to fish again.
For the angler fighting the blue aboard Auctioneer, however, word came in about 8 p.m. that the big one got away.
The parade of catches to the scales yesterday was slow, with only the top positions in the dolphin category changing.
Bob Bell of Baltimore still leads the white marlin class with an 80.5-pound catch taken Monday.
No tuna were brought to the scales, and Richard Joy still leads that category with a 266.5 pounder taken Monday.
Yesterday, fishing effort was off, with only 57 boats going out. On Monday, 206 of 221 entries went out.
"This happens a lot of times on Tuesdays," said tournament director Chuck Motsko. "You go out early because you don't know what the weather is going to do later in the week."
The forecast for today is favorable, and Motsko expects more than 180 boats to head out.
Results (Through yesterday's fishing)
White marlin -- 1. Bob Bell, Shamrock, 80.5 pounds; 2. Ernie Duckett, Fandango, 71 pounds; 3. Ron Belcher, Prime Time, 67 pounds; 4. Bob Hughes, Anita, 65 pounds.
Blue marlin -- none weighed.
Tuna -- 1. Richard Joy, No Strings II, 266.5 pounds; 2. Victor Carbone, Parthenon, 246.5 pounds; 3. Sid Brown, C-Larke, 97 pounds.
Dolphin -- 1. Ben Poe, Trashman, 31 pounds, 2. John McGin, Sea Mistress, 28 pounds; 3. Larry Knight, Bobbin Jean, 24.5 pounds.
Wahoo -- none weighed.
Shark -- none weighed.