Plane Simple Victorious at Custom Shootout

A big third day pays off for the Florida-based team

2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing first place
The top boat and top crew awards went to the 70-foot Spencer, Plane Simple, with owner Jim Jensen and Capt. Jimmy Werling. Gerry Connell was also the top angler. Paul and Daniel Spencer, front row, were the top manufacturer.Debra Todd Photography

The 17th annual Custom Shootout brought together 61 of the finest custom sport-fishers on the water today for a highly anticipated tournament in the prolific waters of the Bahamas.

However, it was clear that Mother Nature was not happy. With northeast winds at 15 to 25 knots, the fleet headed to sea in search of billfish in rough conditions. Lo Que Sea battled the seas and the blue marlin to lead after Day One with three blues, while Wave Paver had two blues and a white for the day.

Day Two saw a tropical wave move through the region, producing winds over 20 knots and 7- to 10-foot seas. Grand Slam caught two blue marlin to move into second place; Builder's Choice also had two blue marlin and El Cazador released a blue and a white.

On Friday night, tournament director Capt. Skip Smith honored each of the 12 custom builders in attendance with a gift from the tournament and a short story, which was followed by a standing ovation. Historically, a tournament has never been able to gather so many custom boat builders in one place, an occurrence which Smith says is just one reason why this tournament so special.

The final day saw the winds clocking around from the southeast as the tropical depression passed the Abacos. The 70-foot Spencer, Plane Simple, started the day with a doubleheader of blue marlin, moving them into the lead. A few hours later, Builder's Choice released a blue but it would be a short-lived celebration: Plane Simple caught a third blue marlin as well as a white marlin for the day to put themselves in the winner's circle by lines out. Plane Simple's Gerry Connell was the event's top angler. Builder's Choice finished in second, while Meredith Huddle from the team was the top lady angler. Jr. Davis and Wave Paver finished in third place overall.

The trophy for the top custom boatbuilder, a 17-year-old Carey Chen glass sculpture, was presented to Paul and Daniel Spencer of Spencer Yachts. For the tournament, there were 129 billfish caught by the fleet.

2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing second place
Second place went to Capt. Brent Gaskill and owner Harris Huddle on the new Jarrett Bay, Builder's Choice. with 1600 points. Meredith Huddle was the top lady angler with three blue marlin releases.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing third place
Jr. Davis and Capt. Russell Sinclair put the 77 Bayliss, Wave Paver, into third place.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing
Despite the rough seas, the fishing was very good during the week.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing plane simple
Plane Simple shows off three days' worth of billfish laundry.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing marina
Abaco Beach Resort hosts the Custom Shootout each season.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing
Twelve custom boatbuilders attended this year's event and were honored by tournament director Skip Smith.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing
Michael Rybovich, left, and Mark Willis on the docks.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing
Bree's Randy Ringhaver, left, weighs in a nice dolphin.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing
The parties lasted well after dark each evening.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing yacht
Special Situation on the move.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing paul mann prize
Robin and Paul Mann receive their appreciation awards from the tournament.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing
Abaco Beach Resort's Kevie Thomas was honored for her hard work each year.Debra Todd Photography
2018 custom shootout bahamas marlin fishing captain
Next year's Custom Shootout will be held May 1-4, 2019.Debra Todd Photography