OCEAN CITY - Until yesterday, there existed the unseemly possibility that the big-money winner in the White Marlin Open might be a tuna.
All that changed at 5 p.m. when John Wilhide pulled into the weigh station at Harbour Island Marina with a 70-pound white marlin worth a possible $1.02 million.
His catch was 7 pounds lighter than the white marlin landed Monday by Jeffery Goodwin, but Wilhide entered in all skill categories to boost his potential payday. Goodwin's fish could be worth as much as $683,000 when the tournament ends tonight. In third place is George Purnell, who landed a 69.5-pound fish good for $2,500.
About 200 boats went out yesterday, an improvement over the previous two days, when fewer than 30 boats braved high winds and rough seas. Open organizers say the lack of action means that almost every one of the 402 competitors is eligible to fish today.
Action in the tuna division also picked up, so much so that all three of the top anglers from previous weigh-ins fell from contention for potential six-figure checks. The new leader is Keith Davis, who caught a 113-pound tuna for first place and a possible $93,200. Bob Forwood brought in a 112.5-pound fish, good for second place, and Marc Moska landed a 96-pounder.
The wahoo division has a single entry. Mark Goggim caught a 56-pound fish yesterday.
The dolphin division remained unchanged, with Larry Johnson (30.5 pounds), Steve Redden Jr. (27 pounds) taking the top two positions. There's a three-way tie for third, with Andrew Adkins, Mike Hughes and Joe Hall all catching fish weighing 26 pounds.
No one has caught a blue marlin that measures up to the tournament's 450-pound minimum.