The WMO's first all-female team, Women's Offshore Alliance, in 2017. Photo: Facebook

White Marlin Open Adds Top Female Angler Category

The White Marlin Open, the richest fishing tournament in the land, is adding new prize categories this year, including one just for female anglers.

The White Marlin Open (WMO), set for August 5 through 9 in Ocean City, expects to give out more than $6 million to this year’s winners. That would top last year’s record $5.5 millon payout. Prizes are awarded for catches of– you guessed it– white marlin, but also blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, dolphin, and shark. There are catch and release prizes for wahoo, tuna and dolphin.

WMO has announced that the 46th annual tournament will include three new categories. An increase in women on the offshore fishing scene inspired a “high lady angler” category. It will recognize a first, second and third place winner with the most billfish points.

“We’re seeing more and more ladies participating each year and we’re excited to award the top female anglers for billfish points,” says Madelyne Rowan, Tournament Director at the White Marlin Open.

Bay Bulletin interviewed the first all-female team of anglers at the White Marlin Open in 2017, a group of women called Women’s Offshore Alliance. Click here to read about their tournament experience, and efforts to expand women’s offshore fishing.

Other new chances to compete in 2019 include a “winner take all” small boat level in the dolphin category, for a $1,000 entry fee. Boats under 40 feet LOA can go head to head with other small boats, a division the WMO says is growing steadily.

And a new big fish category applies to any size of boat. For a $1,500 entry fee, winner takes all for heaviest overall white marlin, blue marlin, swordfish, tuna, dolphin, wahoo or shark.

The White Marlin Open’s competing boats can leave from any dock within 100 nautical miles, not just the Ocean City inlet. Boats can depart from as far north as Barnegat and Cape May, and as far south as Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

Spectators are welcome at weigh-ins each evening at the official scale at Harbour Island, each tournament day from 4 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. WMO says many families even schedule their vacations around the tournament to see it all unfold.

WMO is the world’s largest billfish tournament, and holds the world record for prize money payouts of any fishing tournament.

-Meg Walburn Viviano