Leading up to last year’s White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Maryland, the talk was all about the fishing boat Catch 23, owned by none other than basketball legend, #23, Michael Jordan.
Jordan competed in the billfish tournament with his 80-foot Viking sportfisher, landing his private plane at Salisbury airport on the third day of the tournament. While Catch 23 didn’t enjoy the elite level of success Jordan is used to in sports, he’s not done yet. This past week MJ competed in the Big Rock Marlin Blue Marlin Tournament out of North Carolina.
On the second day of fishing, the Catch 23 team backed in with a 442.3-pound blue marlin. For most of the week it stood as the sixth-heaviest blue marlin on the leaderboard. It wasn’t the last blue that Jordan’s crew hooked, but it was their best showing. In the end, Catch 23 was ranked ninth.
Pelagic Hunter II, a North Carolina-based Contender just 35 feet long, took the top spot with a 495.2-pound blue marlin, beating the second place boat Sea Striker by just two-tenths of a pound. Pelagic Hunter II is one of the only outboard boats ever to win the tournament.
Though Michael Jordan again missed out on prize money, fans were thrilled to see him at the tournament because of the national exposure it brought to Big Rock and the sport.
One spectator posted, “This is big for NC. Good for our economy.”
As of now, Catch 23 hasn’t registered for the 2020 White Marlin Open, set for Labor Day weekend. But organizers say there’s still plenty of time, and they hope to see MJ’s crew return to Ocean City this year.
-Meg Walburn Viviano