On Day 1, 78.5-pound white marlin is No. 1

Record 449 boats entered in Ocean City tournament


August 09, 2005|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Before dawn yesterday, more than 400 boats roared out to the deep water canyons off Ocean City, the anglers aboard with one thing on their minds: catching a white marlin worth at least $1.5 million.

Nearly 12 hours later, spectators at the Harbour Island Marina watched as Ken Coffer of Carolina Beach, N.C., weighed in a 78.5-pound marlin for the lead in the White Marlin Open.

Coffer, fishing aboard the Desperado, had entered all the skill levels, which makes his fish worth $1.65 million after the first day of the five-day tournament.

Scott Knoff, aboard the South Jersey Champion, caught a 74.5-pound white to move into second place.

The final amount of cash prizes will be decided after the end of the tournament Friday, when the number of qualifying entries is established.

With a prize pot of $2.7 million, the Open attracted 449 boats, a record for the 32-year-old tournament.

Unlike last year, when tropical storm warnings made for a rough tournament, anglers had winds under 15 mph and seas of 2 to 4 feet.

Participants choose three of five days to fish. Forty-two boats sat out yesterday, with many captains hoping to glean from the action where the fish are.

But that strategy could backfire. Forecasters say winds from Tropical Depression Irene could cause conditions to deteriorate today through Thursday, with 5-foot seas and 25-mph winds.

Gardner Britt of Virginia, aboard Seven, weighed a 549.5-pound blue marlin, good for first place in that division and a potential $464,178 prize.

Joe Hall caught a 115-pound tuna aboard My Seaductress, to lead that division and earn a potential $123,228 prize.

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