* TAKE THE BAIT: The White Marlin Open, in its 31st year, returns to Ocean City, Md., for five days of high-stakes fishing starting on Monday. Last year's tournament, which included a record payout of $2,223,940 -- including $1,303,965 (also a record, for catching a single fish) to Doug Remsberg of Walkersville, Md., for hauling in the top-weighing white marlin (781/2 pounds) -- will be hard to beat, but don't bet against it. Hundreds of top anglers stuffed in dozens upon dozens of boats will match wits and skill mainly in search of white and blue marlin (95 percent of all fish are released) in quest of a payout that would underwrite many sunlit days on the water. Weigh-ins, starting at 4 p.m. on each day of competition at Harbor Island Marina, are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.whitemarlinopen.com. . . .

The Northern Virginia Chapter of Trout Unlimited will gather for its monthly meeting on Thursday at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, 400 Center St. The featured speaker will be Tim Freese, a small-mouth bass fishing guide who works the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. The event starts with a fly-tying clinic at 6:45 p.m., followed by Freese's talk at 7:30 p.m. Nonmembers are welcome. For details, visit www.nvatu.org.

* VARIETY SHOW: The second annual Son of a Spud Triathlon, which features a one-mile swim, a 25-mile bike ride and a 6.2-mile run, will be held on Aug. 15 at 7 a.m. at General Smallwood State Park in Indian Head, Md. There is a 500-athlete cap on the race, so be sure to register as early as possible. For more information and directions and to volunteer, visit www.triath.com.

* SEARCHING FOR DIRT: The Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, keeping busy as always, offer a handful of rides this week, including a casually-paced effort on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Wakefield Park in Annandale and a moderate-to-fast ride, also at Wakefield, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. For directions and more information, visit www.more-mtb.org.

-- John Mullen

mullenj@washpost.com