Last week, Cheryl McLeskey became the first woman to win the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Maryland. The annual event, billed as the “world’s largest billfish tournament,” saw big fish hit the decks of more than 300 registered boats, but it was McLeskey’s 94-pound white marlin that solidified her place in the tournament’s records.
The Baltimore Sun reported that McLeskey reeled the marlin aboard on the third day, August 5, of the five-day tournament. She won the white marlin category by 15 pounds. Her closest opponent, Bill Haugland, landed his 79-pound fish on the seventh.
McLeskey and her team were fishing aboard the Backlash out of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Her catch is the third largest white marlin ever caught in the Open, which requires a 70-pound fish as the minimum for weighing. The all-time Open record for white marlin was set in 1980—McLeskey missed the record 99-pound white by only five pounds.
Fortune followed fame for McLeskey. She is the recipient of an estimated prize of $1,176,113 for her win.
The White Marlin Open includes more than just its namesake fish, though:
· A 551-pound blue marlin was caught by Larry Hesse Jr. of Ft. · Lauderdale, Florida
· A 200.5-pound tuna was caught by Mark Donahue of Jupiter, Florida
· A 46.5-pound dolphin was caught by Andy Shelton of Arlington, Virginia
· A 45-pound wahoo was caught by Jay Mascaro of Jamison, Pennsylvania.
Here’s a video of McLeskey’s weigh-in on Day 3, starting at minute 3:50. She had to anxiously wait for the remainder of the tournament to see if her marlin clinched the trophy.
Video by Hooked on OC/Unscene Productions via YouTube
Cover image: Baltimore Sun/ White Marlin Open