OCEAN CITY- Lost amid much of the hoopla about the successful early shark tournaments off the coast of Ocean City was the official catch-and-release of the first white marlin this year.
Angler Jim Minner fishing aboard the “Judge,” a Cape May, N.J. boat captained by Blaine Champlin fishing out of Sunset Marina in West Ocean City, caught the first official white marlin of the year on Monday, June 9, near the Norfolk Canyon. Minner’s white marlin hit on a ballyhoo at 1,000 fathoms in 76 degree water. Following a tradition started several years ago, Minner will receive a check for $5,000 from the town of Ocean City for catching and releasing the first official white marlin of the year in the White Marlin Capital of the World. Minner is not a member of the Ocean City Marlin Club, however, and consequently will not receive the $1,000 bonus tacked on by the club for the first white.
There is nothing remarkable about the date for the first white marlin this year, but it did occur one full week earlier than last year. Angler Kevin Haile of Ocean City, fishing aboard the “Catfish,” caught the first white marlin last year on June 16. Mid-June is historically when the first white marlin of the season is caught off the coast of the resort and this year’s date fell right in the middle of the prevalent time.
The date typically falls within a window of about five or six days in mid- to late June each year when the milestone has been reached most frequently in the 70-plus years since the first white marlin was caught off the coast of the resort in 1936. The earliest ever came on June 1, 2002 and the latest came on July 20 way back in 1940, according to the annals of the Ocean City Marlin Club.