A number of long-time participants have been instrumental to the event's success over the years, including Jim Johnston, who has fished the tournament each year since its inception. Johnston, along with Bony Peace, Wallace Pate and Marshall Truluck were among the core group of anglers and boat owners from those formative years of the event. In memory of Pate, who was an avid angler as well as a lure developer, each boat received one of his custom Pate Changer lures. In addition, the first boat to catch a blue marlin was awarded 50 $100 dollar bills, and the first blue marlin caught on a Changer lure received $2,000 in cash. Gryphon, a 60-foot Hatteras owned by Colby Griffin and captained by Chucky Moore, secured the $5,000 reward by releasing the first blue marlin of the tournament. Johnston was expected to present the $2,000 award to another team; however, Johnston's Big Sky team released the first blue caught on a Changer lure, so Bony Peace presented the cash to Johnston instead.