After a busy day at Harbour Island Marina the winning marlin was brought in by the crew of the Wire Nut. Produced by Ralph Musthaler
In years past, the fourth day of the White Marlin Open tournament had been dubbed “Moving Day” due to the amount of shifting on the leaderboard in the competition’s multiple categories.
But in 2017, Day 5 earned that title after the shark, dolphin and white marlin categories all saw new anglers climb to the top of their respective fields.
After catching an 86-pound white marlin on Wednesday, Delaware’s Mike Donohue sat comfortably atop the leaderboard with many believing he would take home the $2.6 million prize.
Donohue held his lead throughout Thursday, but less than an hour after the scales opened on the tournament’s final day, Donohue was dethroned.
Glen Frost of the Wire Nut, based out of Ocean City, sailed into Harbour Island Marina with one of the biggest catches of his life.
Frost had reeled in a 95.5-pound white marlin, giving him a huge lead in the tournament’s most famous category. The fish was also the third largest white marlin in tournament history.
“It’s a great feeling. We have a great crew, the crew did a great job today fishing, so we’re very excited,” Frost said. “It was a tough reel, but I had to get it in. It jumped several times, we thought it was blue marlin at first, and it was absolutely unbelievable when we got it into the boat.”
Frost said it took nearly half an hour to get the fish aboard the Wire Nut, but after seeing the numbers that flashed across the scales, he knew the wait was well worth it.
“We had a feeling (it was a first-place white marlin),” Frost said. “The length isn’t that long, but the girth was just out of this world. It’s a great honor to be here, and it’s great to be at the White Marlin Open.”
Pending a polygraph test, and no last-minute upsets, Frost was expected to earn at least $1.6 million in prize money.
Although the white marlin was the most anticipated category throughout the tournament, Frost wasn’t the only angler to put his name at the top of the leaderboard on Friday.
In the first four days, three groups — dolphin, shark and blue marlin — had yet to record a qualifying catch. However, within the first two hours when the scales opened Friday, two of the three finally made it on the board.
In the dolphin category, Andy Cohen of the Silly Money brought in a 23-pound catch estimated at $70,000 — the most ever given out for a dolphin in the tournament’s history. Shortly after, Frank Snover of the Restless Lady claimed the competition’s first shark with a 126-pound mako.
“We went out for (sharks and white marlins), and we brought meat back to the scales. We wanted our name on the board and that’s what we did,” Snover said. “Took me about 10, 15 minutes to get it to the boat, and the boys did what they had to do, and I just did my job.”
As of 8 p.m. on Friday, no blue marlin had been caught. The scales were open from 4-9:15 p.m.
The 2017 tournament was also the inaugural year of the small boat, big fish category, focusing on boats 40 feet or less.
Fishing aboard the Lisa, Mike Cutler of Kansas reeled in a 59-pound tuna valued at $110,000. At the time, Cutler also stood to make an extra $40,000 for the biggest daily tuna, but was later overthrown by Alan Sadler of the Intents, who caught a 63-pounder. Joe Sadler of the same boat currently holds the top tuna, weighing in a 68.5 pounds.
After the day's excitement finally died down, the White Marlin Open closed the book on its 44th year. After a year of controversy and court appearances due to 2016 winner Phil Heasley’s failed polygraph, tournament founder Jim Motsko was pleased to see this year’s tournament run smoothly and safely.
“I'm very very happy. We had more boats, more prize money, nobody got killed, and we had three really good days in a row," Motsko said. "I'm happy — life is good."