840-pound catch caps Marlin Open Md. man's big fish worth $230,000

August 08, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

OCEAN CITY -- The 500-fathom line at Poorman's Canyon turned out to be a rich fishing ground yesterday in the White Marlin Open, a New Jersey boat caught and released 16 white marlin and a Maryland angler boated an 840-pound blue marlin worth about $230,000.

The 79.5-pound white marlin caught by Roger Viens, of Crownsville, on Tuesday was the big-money winner in the tournament, worth more than $530,000 for angler, captain and mate.

But for the crowd gathered yesterday evening at Harbor Island Marina, the big blue caught by Webb St. Clair, of Ocean City, was the star of the show. At 7: 15 p.m., as Capt. Tom Henry backed St. Clair's Waterdog to the scales, a rumble passed through the crowd of several thousand spectators.

Five minutes later, as the big blue marlin was hoisted on the scales, the rumble became a roar. Kids and adults alike oohed and aahed, and St. Clair stood to the side, admiring his first money fish at the Open.

"It's the biggest fish I ever have caught and the first money-winner for me in this tournament in 25 years," said St. Clair, 69, and retired from the life insurance business. "It looked like a submarine coming up at me."

South Jersey Champion out of Cape May, N.J., was the only other tournament boat fishing the same Poorman's areas as St. Clair.

"In the hour and 45 minutes it took me to land the blue, they caught and released seven whites," St. Clair said. "It took everybody on board to get it in the boat. This is the biggest fish I ever put in a boat."

Based on his performance yesterday, Scott Knoff of New Jersey, won the top-angler award with 910 points, and South Jersey Champion won the top boat award.

The big push yesterday was for blue marlin, officials said, because only one blue had qualified in the previous four days.

"If you wanted to win some money, you went for blue marlin today," said Jim Motsko, a tournament official and veteran billfish angler. "That didn't mean you were only fishing for blues, but that was the category that held the most potential."

Two other blue marlin were weighed in yesterday, but neither met the 350-pound minimum.

The second-place blue was caught by Buddy Dougherty of Alexandria, Va. Dougherty's 354-pounder and St. Clair's blue marlin were the only two that met the minimum all week.

No white marlin were weighed in yesterday.

Second place for white marlin went to Brandon Trevillian, of Severna Park (78.5 pounds), and third went to Tony Battista, of Ocean City (73 pounds).

Pub Date: 8/08/98

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