At the 2022 White Marlin Open, the world’s richest billfish tournament, there was a noticeable lack of…billfish. But in the end, that didn’t stop one angler from winning a staggering $4.53 million.
Though the tournament began last Monday, no white or blue marlin was even brought to the scales to weigh until Thursday, the second-to-last day of competition. Just 214 billfish were caught this year, and of those, only four white marlin and one blue marlin qualified. That’s a stark contrast from 1,504 billfish caught in 2019.
But it only takes one winner. On Thursday, a Fenwick Island, Del. crew aboard Cabana weighed in a 511-pound blue marlin. It would be the only qualifier in the blue marlin division. Bill Britt from Sandy Spring, Md. was the angler and he enjoyed a $1.2 million payout.
A 71.5-pound white marlin was also caught on Thursday, but that boat crew didn’t hold onto their lead. On Friday evening, the last day of the tournament, Billfisher out of Ocean City brought a 77.5-pound white marlin to the scale. Angler Jeremy Duffie of Bethesda, Md. claimed the title for the largest prize ever paid out for a single fish: $4,536,000.
A White Marlin Open Facebook fan pointed out that if you did some grocery store math, that white marlin would be worth $58,064.51 per pound—a very pricey fish.
Duffie’s record payout blows away the previous high price set during the 2022 Big Rock tournament in Morehead City, N.C.— $3.48 million for a blue marlin.
While qualifying billfish were scarce in the tournament, tuna were being caught left and right. The leaderboard changed multiple times. In the end, angler Jason Hersh from Pennsylvania took home $1.27 million for a 247.5-pound bigeye he caught aboard the Southern C’s out of Ocean City. Because of added skill levels factored into the competition this year, Pasadena, Md. angler Richard Hawse won $437,918 for a 242.5-pound bigeye.
The wahoo and dolphin divisions saw teams take home winnings ranging from $22,000 to $104,000.
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the White Marlin Open, and we can only imagine the excitement (and purse) that will build ahead of the milestone tournament.
For a list of all the 2022 winning categories, visit whitemarlinopen.com.
-Meg Walburn Viviano