71-pounder tops first day of Marlin Open 20- to 25-knot winds keep outgoing boats to 45 of 295

August 04, 1998|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

OCEAN CITY -- The competition in the White Marlin Open started here yesterday with a record field chasing more than $1 million in total prize money and the largest white marlin of the week, which alone could be worth $300,000.

"It was blowing a bit down here, and we only had 45 boats go out today," tournament director Chuck Motsko said after the scales closed at Harbour Island Marina. "But those boats that did go out saw a lot of fish."

Winds were northwest at 20 to 25 knots yesterday, Motsko said, and waves were 4 to 8 feet, prime conditions for marlin.

Three white marlin were weighed in yesterday, Motsko said, but many more were released because they would not have made the 65-pound minimum size.

The largest white of the day, a 71-pounder, was caught by Grier Wakefield of Wilmington, Del., who was fishing aboard the Rowdy Too.

Diedre Bell of Virginia Beach weighed in a 69-pound white caught aboard Chaos, which also released six marlin.

Bell's catch, should it stand up through the final round of the tournament on Friday, would be worth approximately $400,000. Wakefield's catch would be worth approximately $100,000, because the Delaware angler is entered in fewer skill-level categories than Bell.

Motsko said he expects the weather to lay down today and for most of the record 295-boat fleet to fish.

"There are still 840 boat days left in the week, so a lot can change between now and Friday," Motsko said. "Eighty- and 90-pounders have been caught earlier in the year, and the fish are out there waiting."

Pub Date: 8/04/98

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