While many of his classmates were wrapping up internships at investment banks, Wharton junior Jack Hotz was making a pretty good return on his own investment of time. Sixty miles offshore from Ocean City, Maryland, Hotz caught the big one—an 82-pound fish that took the $1,500,000 top prize at the 2006 White Marlin Open.

Yes, that’s $1.5 million.

“It takes a lot of finesse to hook [a white marlin],” says the finance and real-estate major from Shamong, New Jersey, who has been fishing competitively with his family for years. “After that they’re a real acrobatic fish. They jump around and everything.”

Hotz and his crewmates were out in their boat for the third day when they got the lucrative bite; it then took about 50 minutes to reel in the fish. After all the jumping, “they swim down deep and you have a standoff for a while,” he says. “Once we saw it was a possible tournament-winning fish, we took our time. We just inched the fish up slowly.”

Hotz will share the winnings with his crewmates, who include his father, two uncles, two cousins, and three family friends. “It was a team effort,” he says. “I was the one reeling in the fish, but everybody had a part in it.”

The prize money comes from entry fees, which run into the thousands, depending on which and how many divisions are entered. The $5,000 fee required for the “heaviest white marlin” division would seem to be aimed at anglers with some measure of risk tolerance.

“The white marlin is considered by many anglers to be, pound for pound, the ‘king’ of salt-water game fish,” according to the White Marlin Open website. “The fisherman must use all his skills to lure the marlin to strike.” When hooked, “many will literally ‘walk on the water’ with leap after leap, sometimes straight up, often ‘greyhounding,’ leaping up sideways with incredibly long jumps across the ocean.”

In other words, about as unpredictable as the stock market.—S.F.

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