Grand Slam Tops Custom Shootout

Consistent marlin fishing in the Abacos leads to victory for the team

2017 Custom Shootout first place team grand slam wallis higginbotham
Wallis Higginbotham and the Grand Slam team, winners of the 2017 Custom Shootout.Courtesy Debra Todd Photography

For its 16th anniversary, the Custom Shootout pulled out all the stops and hosted a record fleet of 61 participating teams, fishing aboard some of the sport’s finest custom sport-fishing boats found anywhere in the world. Abaco Beach Resort hosted this year’s tournament.

The Day One leader was a familiar one: Capt. Daniel Spencer on the 60-foot Spencer, Gratitude. They released a grand slam of one blue marlin, one white marlin, and one sailfish to earn points not just for each species but also for the slam, putting them ahead of the fleet. Chaser had one blue marlin and four white marlin releases, so the battle for first place would be a close one. On Day One, the fleet released a total of 61 billfish, including 28 blue marlin.

Jr. Davis and the Wave Paver team had the hot hand on Day Two, releasing three blues and a white, and the Grand Slam team, fishing aboard their new 50-foot Forbes, released a grand slam to move into second place overall. Islena, a 48-foot Rybovich built in 1974, also caught a grand slam on Day Two.

2017 Custom Shootout second place team gina lisa
The Gina Lisa team landed in second place, falling just short of first based on the time of last release.Courtesy Debra Todd Photography

That evening, tournament director Skip Smith honored the 11 boatbuilders in attendance, which was followed by a standing ovation by the participants. Smith remarked that he was lucky and grateful to have the opportunity to recognize the builders of such remarkable boats.

Although they did not release a billfish on the final day of the tournament, the Grand Slam team of owner Wallis Higginbotham, Capt. David Grubbs, Larry Gross, Adam White and Jeff Wright emerged victorious. They had a total of three blue marlin, one white marlin and one sailfish, plus the bonus for their grand slam, for 1,800 points.

2017 Custom Shootout third place team wave paver jr davis
Jr. Davis and Wave Paver, third place overall.Courtesy Debra Todd Photography

The Gina Lisa team moved into second place; Tom Kokolas, Capt. Danny Scotti, Nicole Scotti, Gerry Imparato and John Vance released three blue marlin and four white marlin for 1,800 points, falling behind on time. Wave Paver finished third in the tournament with four blue marlin and one white marlin, good for 1,750 points. Jr. Davis was the event's top angler and Nicole Scotti was the top lady angler.

A total of 141 billfish were released in three days by the fleet. The event also raised approximately $100,000 for the tournament’s charities, which include the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital, the IGFA and others.

2017 Custom Shootout top angler jr. davis
Jr. Davis addresses the crowd as he accepts his trophy as the event's top overall angler.Courtesy Debra Todd Photography
2017 Custom Shootout top boat grand slam
Grand Slam, a 50-foot Forbes, was the top overall boat in the tournament.Courtesy Debra Todd Photography
2017 Custom Shootout top lady angler nicole scotti gina lisa
Nicole Scotti on Gina Lisa was the tournament's top lady angler with three blue marlin releases.Courtesy Debra Todd Photography