Betcha they’ll make sure they have a license next time!
On the bright side the gaffe has garnered more press for this story than it would have gotten otherwise. This mammoth of a marlin is a rare thing indeed. Overfishing, pollution, gosh you-name-it and it has greatly reduced the number of very old, very large fish in the sea.
I’m very pleased, that in the end, after 2 lie detector tests, and days of bargaining the fish, the big dead fish got the last laugh.
Fishing license dispute costs Virginia team $1 million prize in Outer Banks Big Rock Blue Marlin contest
By Annie Gowen | Washington Post Staff Writer | Thursday, June 24, 2010
After a two-hour struggle with the gigantic fish off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Alexandria resident Peter Wann pulled with all his strength and the creature emerged from the ocean depths.
He and his four sport fishing teammates could finally see what they had been struggling against — an 883-pound blue marlin spanning 137 inches, the biggest fish any of them had ever seen.
“My eyes were wide,” Wann said of the June 14 catch. “Once it got up, everybody started freaking out, saying, ‘Holy smokes!’ Everybody was so excited.”
But as the exhausted and elated teammates steamed back to shore — certain that their catch would win the grand prize of nearly $1 million in the annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament — they began checking to make sure the paperwork was in order. Wann’s heart sank when he read the rule book. He thought the entire boat was licensed to compete. Turns out, all individuals had to have a valid state fishing license. Even Wann, the hired first mate.
His mind raced. He had a license at one time, hadn’t he? Heart in his throat, he logged onto the state’s Web site as soon as the boat was in wireless range.
Then big, bad news: His license had long expired.
“I looked at it, and I was like, [expletive],” recalled Wann, 22, a George Washington University senior who is studying mechanical engineering.
Wann renewed it wirelessly and hoped for the best. That was at 5:51 p.m. The team had reeled in the fish at 3:16 p.m.
Eight days, two lie detector tests, and hours of scrutiny and agonizing deliberation later, tournament officials made their decision. They would not be awarding the prize to Wann and his teammates from the boat Citation.
Wann had gone to North Carolina for a sunny summer of participating in the sport he loves. And his failure to renew a simple $30 fishing license cost his bosses and teammates nearly $1 million.
“I’ve had better weeks,” sighed Michael A. Topp, a Richmond defense contractor, retired Army colonel and co-owner of the boat.
Topp would not discuss the incident in detail because the team is appealing the decision. But he said: “It has nothing to do with the money. It’s about our reputation. We did not cheat. We are honorable men.”