Friday, Aug. 11, marked the final day of the 50th annual White Marlin Open, a storied billfishing tournament based in Ocean City, Maryland. But it was a blue marlin that made history that evening. The tournament-winning fish netted the top team a purse of $6.2 million, which represents the largest payout in fishing tournament history, according to the organizers.
Angler John Ols landed the big blue. He was fishing aboard the Floor Real, which is based in Ocean City and was one of 357 teams competing in the five-day tournament. Altogether, the field of anglers landed roughly 551 white marlin and 46 blue marlin during the event.
Only two of those fish were big enough to be weighed, however, and Ols’ marlin was the only one that met the minimum length and weight requirements in order to qualify. (The tournament minimums for blue and white marlin are 114 inches and 70 pounds, respectively.) His roughly 640-pound fish took first place in both the white and blue marlin divisions—along with all the prize money that came with it.
“The blue marlin from the Floor Real left no doubt when it was measured at 118 [inches] in the boat before electrifying the crowd while tipping the scales at 640.5 pounds,” officials explained in a news release. “It proved to be the only qualifying billfish and wins most of the money for both white and blue marlin.”
The $6.2-million purse replaces the previous world record for the biggest payout in fishing tournament history, which was set during last year’s White Marlin Open. The record-breaking $4.45 million in winnings went to Capt. Jeremy Duffie, who took first place in 2022 with a 77.5-pound white marlin. Duffie’s boat, the Billfisher, is also based in Ocean City.
The Floor Reel wasn’t the only boat that took home more than $1 million from this year’s event, either. Tournament officials said that “two new millionaires were minted in the tuna categories” as well. Ro Sham Bo, out of Ocean City, brought in a 215-pound bigeye tuna worth $1.7 million, and Reel Tight, also out of Ocean City, caught a 265-pound tuna worth $1 million.