BEGINNERS GUIDE TO WHITE MARLIN OPEN
This week is one of my absolute favorite weeks on the shore. If you follow me on instagram or if you’re from the shore, then you probably already know this week is the 46th annual White Marlin Open, the largest billfish tournament in the world. Anglers boats from up and down the coast( over 150 boats) compete in various categories in a week long fishing tournament, which awards millions of dollars (just shy of $6 million to be exact) to its winners. I wanted to put together this handy guide with the most important bits of information in case your planning on attending or even wanting to watch it online, so you’re prepared.
T H E B A S I C S
White Marlin Open runs from Aug. 5-9 and will be held bayside at Harbour Island on 14th street. It gets SUPER crowded, so make sure to get their early or plan ahead. There is no parking in harbor island, but the church down the street has parking for a small donation, or you can take the WMO shuttle from the convention center.
Scales are open from 4pm-9:15 pm, free of charge to the public and can be streamed live online. There are multiple vendors set up around the weigh-in area, and there’s also a couple bars and food like burgers and dogs. Harbor Island is also home to Reel Inn restaurant in case you want a bit more space and other types of food, while still being around the action.
Anglers are allowed to fish three of the five days beginning at 8:30 a.m. Lines and teasers must be out of the water by 3:30 p.m. However, if an angler has a fish they believe to be qualifying non the line, they can keep fighting it until they’re able to boat it or it breaks free. Anglers can bring a fish they believe to be qualifying, anytime after the scales open at 4 so some days the action starts right away and doesn’t stop until scales close.
Each division has different qualifications for eligibility which, since I’m a total newb, know nothing about.
W I N N I N G
Per tournament rules, any angler who earns $50,000 or more in prize money is subject to a polygraph examination which has been a big topic in recent years. The testing takes place prior to the awards banquet on Saturday, Aug. 10, and is given by a White Marlin Open-approved examiner.
The polygraph testing has gained national national attention in recent years after 2016’s winner had to forfeit his potential winnings after he failed to have a passing score on the polygraph test.
This year is extra exciting because we have a celebrity in town! Michael Jordan’s boat Catch 23 was (by fate, or by chance) boat #123 to register in the tournament. It’s docked at Sunset Marina, along with most of the other boats so if youre in the area make so to stop by this week! Teasers/Sunset is basically the hub of White Marlin, when the action at the scales isn’t going on. You can always find the boats there when they’re not fishing (and even during the day you can usually find the boats they took a lay-day -meaning they didn’t fish that day).Teasers is also home to the Teaser’s Cup, a competition to see which boat can rack up the biggest bar tab. They have a giant celebration at the end of the week on Friday where the Teasers cup is awarded and everyone celebrates it and the end of the White Marlin Open. The party usually moves to the docks and the boats as the night progresses ( and the giant bottles of champagne pour) so I’ll make sure to take you guys along throughout the week on Instagram stories!