Prize Money Withheld for White Marlin Open's Top Fish Pending In - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Prize Money Withheld for White Marlin Open's Top Fish Pending Investigation

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Phil Heasley aboard the "Kallianassa" reeled in a 76.5 pound white marlin on Tuesday, Aug. 9, the second day of the White Marlin Open Tournament. (Photo: White Marlin Open) Phil Heasley aboard the "Kallianassa" reeled in a 76.5 pound white marlin on Tuesday, Aug. 9, the second day of the White Marlin Open Tournament. (Photo: White Marlin Open)

OCEAN CITY, Md. - Questions are arising over the top-billed white marlin at this year's White Marlin Open tournament in Ocean City. Late Tuesday night, tournament officials announced there was a potential violation of tournament rules with the top winner and the prize money was being withheld pending an investigation.

On just the second day of the tournament in August, angler Phil Heasley aboard the "Kallianassa," from Naples, Fl., brought in the only white marlin of the tournament to make it to the scales, a white marlin weighting 76.5 pounds. When the scales officially closed on Friday, August 12, that fish ended up being worth $2.8 million, a tournament record for single fish prize money. However, now it appears the fish might be disqualified.

In a statement from White Marlin Open President James Motsko released late Tuesday night, Motsko said it was discovered that there were apparently rule violations, and the winning white marlin boat would not be awarded the $2.8 million prize money. While the specifics of the rule violations were not released, the statement went on to say the independent judges reviewed the evidence and "determined to withhold the winning prize until it can be ensured that the prize is being paid to the proper recipient."

While there is not yet any indication who would receive the award money if the judges do determine it won't go to the "Kallianassa", there are rules that appear to indicate the money would defer to the winner in the blue marlin category. The only blue marlin caught this year weighed a whopping 790 pounds and was brought in by angler Jim Conway on "Get Reel."

The following is the full statement by White Marlin Open President James Motsko, published on the tournament's website:

"On August 9, the winning angler in the White Marlin Category, provided catch information for the white marlin which, as it turned out, would be the sole qualifying white marlin in the tournament.

"Subsequent investigation as required by the Rules & Regulations of the White Marlin Open indicated a possible violation of the rules. Accordingly in an effort to achieve utmost fairness, the White Marlin Open Directors met with the independent Judges and complete information was provided to the Judges for their input with regard to the issue of the potential violation of rules.

"After much discussion, and providing evidence of the possible violation of the tournament rules, the Judges agreed that the prize would not be awarded to the boat catching the qualifying white marlin, but would, in accordance with the rules of the tournament, be withheld pending the determination of the proper recipient of the prize money.

"The White Marlin Open strives to obtain the highest integrity and level of transparency in fairness in all of its award and determination of adherence to the Rules & Regulations in all cases. It is for these reasons that the Tournament Directors, in coordination with the independent Judges in the tournament, have made the determination to withhold the winning prize until it can be ensured that the prize is being paid to the proper recipient thereof."
 

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