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"Girl Power"
Written By: Linda Sears
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"Girl Power"
The board tells the story for Cheryl McLesky, the first woman to win the White Marlin Open.

    For the first time in the 42-year history of the annual "White Marlin Open," a lady angler won the big prize money! She showed that a woman had what it took to win and bring in the big money fish! Cheryl McLesky of Virginia Beach, Va., aboard the boat "Backlash" reeled in a 94 lb. White Marlin.
    By Sunday the captains of the 307 boats that entered the tournament from near and far had gathered at the Clarion for the captain's meeting. Ocean City was to be the host of the 42nd Annual "White Marlin Open" - the world’s largest billfish tournament.
    On Monday at 8 a.m.,  294 boats set out in search of and with high hopes of reeling in the big money fish. At the end of day one, many of the fish that were caught became winners when it was all said and done! Larry Huse Jr. aboard "Goin In Deep" from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., was on the board with a winner. He had landed a 551 lb. Blue Marlin and first place worth $778,728.00. A second place Tuna worth $174,495.00 was caught on the same day by Logan Pursey of Girdletree, Md. The third place Dolphin, worth $23,222.00, was caught by Jesse Morris of Jamison, Pa., and the 1st place Wahoo, worth $33,646.00, was pulled aboard by Jay Mascara of Jamison, Pa. All in all, a great first day and there were high hopes all around the docks!
    On day two the weather took a turn for the worse and only 5 out of the 307 boats ventured out and not one returned with a winning fish !
    On the third day, 238 boats headed out into the Baltimore Canyon but by the rule book, no farther than 100 miles off the O.C. shores. This would prove to be the biggest winning day of the whole tournament! On this day the angler gods were on board "Backlash" helping Cheryl McLesky land the big money fish of the whole tournament worth $1,176,113.00. It was a 94 lb. winning White Marlin! Way to go Cheryl! Mike Beckett of Moorestown, N.J., reeled in a 42 lb. 2nd place Dolphin worth $24,222.00 and on the same day, Jason Connellee of Belair, Md., reeled in a 43 lb. third place Wahoo worth only $1,375.00 This was a record breaking day but not so much for Mr. Connellee, I'm sorry to say!
    Thursday, day four, 294 boats set out through the inlet for the open ocean. By 9 p.m., end of day weigh in, the fourth place Tuna was on the books worth $33,945.00 and the lucky angler was Jim Jensen from Merritt Island, Fla. On the same day, the 1st place Dolphin was weighed in at 46.5 lbs. and Andy Shelton from Arlington, Va., won $25,222.00. A second place Wahoo, worth $34,646.00, made Mr. Scott Joseph from Port Delmarva, Del., a very happy person.
    Day five and the last day of the tournament the weather was reported to be really bad with high seas, and as a result only 90 out of the 307 boats registered took the chance and went out to test lady luck. On this day a 2nd place White Marlin worth $1,006,247 was reeled in by a very happy guy from Coral Gables, Fla., by the name of Mr. Bill Haugland. The first place Tuna, worth $399,209.00, was caught by Mark Donahue from one of my favorite places, Jupiter, Fla. The third place Tuna was caught on the same day by Dante Soriente from Beach Haven, N.J., and he took home $26,741.00. It was a crappy day but they were glad they ventured out because they were winners that day!
    By Saturday a lot of money had changed hands and I'm talking about the side bets that the IRS couldn't get their grubby little hands on!
    More than "Three Million Eight Hundred Forty Five Thousand Dollars was handed out to the lucky winning anglers! Crazy money for having fun and doing what these anglers love to do ... I'm Just Sayin’! That is, of course, after they showed up at the Clarion hotel to take a polygraph test and swear that they caught the winning fish fair and square and followed all the rules! So after the not so welcome IRS got their 20 or 30 percent of the winnings, the anglers went to celebrate their lucky day!!!
    I just have two very heart felt and quizzical questions!
    Question One :  After all the crazy shark sightings and a few even washing up on our shores to have babies, can you believe that not one weighing enough to qualify for money was caught during the whole 5 days! There is something wrong with that! Does it mean that we have over fished the Shark or that they are smarter than the average fish and knew that the tournament was going on and got the hell out of town!
    Question Two:  "When" and for godsake "Why" is it that the IRS was allowed to just move in with their grubby little hands out and were allowed to just take a huge chunk of the prize money? Those men, and now women, should be allowed to keep their very hard earned prize money! Why is prize money taxed?  I'm Just Sayin’!
    With the kind of money that was won this past week I just might have to get my fishing pole out and get ready for the August 8-12, 2016 "White Marlin Open."
    I'm Just Sayin’!

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