Frank Criscola of Bedminster, N.J. did it again at the White Marlin Open in Ocean City. Maryland, following his win with Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club last year in the tuna division, by boating a 77-pound white marlin that was initially tied for first and ended up winning $206;000.

Crislola pitched a bait to the big white after it came up on the teaser, but it then looked at another bait before disappearing. Criscola is a veteran billfisherman, and dropped a lot of line back where the white found it. She only jumped once and went wild when alongside. Capt. George Steller called for the gaff to be used on an obviously large white in order not to have it get under the boat and cut off. That saved the fish, but it turned out that the rules provided that a gaffed entry would be dropped back in a tie. Drillin & Billin ended up with the big chunk of money at $1.762 million for their 77-pounder.

There was no question about the first place when Canyon Blues boated a 96-pound white for $1.85 million. That was the third largest in WMO history, but still smaller than my wife’s only white. Before we were marriied, Kathy fished for sharks with me in my Mako 21 at Montauk when she hooked into a 99 1/2-pounder that won a national magazine first place that year. It hit a small frozen bunker.

The white marlin and tuna categories payed off more than expected when there was was no blue marlin entry. I never thought the early tuna entries would stand up, but the bigeyes couldn’t be located even by such specialists as Canyon Runner and MJ’s. Travis Ort from York, Pa. was the biggest beneficiary of that blue marlin money as he was in the right Calcuttas to win $1.414 million on Restless Lady 2 out of Ocean City with a 114.5-pound bluefin. Sentient had the largest tuna at 121 pounds, but wasn’t in the right Calcuttas and won only $148,000.Capt. Mark De Blasio was in the right entry levels with his Blue Runner from Manasquan, N.J., and won $165,000 for the 106-pound bluefin caught by Jarrord Keeley from Centerville, Ohio even after it dropped to third.

I’ll have more winners and the final species count tomorrow,

The last big money event is coming up Aug. 17-21 with the Mid-Atlantic out of Cape May plus Ocean City, Maryland. The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant has a few openings for individual anglers at $2,666 a day, which includes a share of any earnings even if the fish is caught on another day.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for south winds at 5-10 knots, with possible afternoon showers and thunderstorms.

Scott Leadbeater is back in action with his old Aquasport at Atlantic Highlands — now powered by a new Suzuki. He got started Sunday by casting for stripers and catching a 32-incher plus two shorts. Fluking between the channels added a 19-inch fluke.

Also at that port, Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen noted that recent morning fluking has been tough with little wind for drifting. However, Mark Hrubic took the lead in the Big Pool on Saturday with an 8.1-pounder.Tank Matraxia could do no wrong last week when he fished with friends in Tagged Fish from Highlands. Fluking was slow at Sandy Hook Reef, but he was catching steadily, including two 24-inchers in a row. Some large sea bass were also added,

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported a 27-inch striper was caught in the surf on metal, but small blues are the best bet.

I’ve been fishing the backwaters for a very few small stripers on Z Man paddletails, but tried the Sea Girt surf this morning with only two fluke of 14 and 15 1/2 inches hitting a teaser fly.

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