Blue marlin makes triumphant return to Bay Point Invitational

27th annual billfish tournament draws record crowds

The Bay Point Invitational, the Gulf Coast’s premier sport fishing event, was recently held July 6-10 at Bay Point Marina in Panama City Florida. The Invitational introduced several changes this year, including a staggered entry fee, a removal of the 72 boat cap, and the option for participants to depart from Panama City, Destin or Orange Beach, AL.

Panama City, Fla. – The stage was set for a perfect tournament: the weather was favorable, the fans were restless, and the fleet was hungry for Blue Marlin. And when the scales finally closed on Saturday night, the fleet delivered.

Three Big Blues were brought to the scales this year, and Pipe Dream took home top honors with a 665 pound beast. Angler Russell Bailey claimed his share of $187,574 for his efforts. For Don Milner Sr., one of Pipe Dream’s owners, it was the first time he’d brought a Blue Marlin to the scales in over 20 years of competition.

"You don't realize, but everything has to go right for you to land a fish like that," Milner said. "It's difficult, we'd have good ones and then they'd be gone in a flash."

Two other Blue Marlin were weighed as well. One of Bay Point’s own, Traders Hill, thrilled the crowd on Friday with a 404.2 pound Blue Marlin, while another Panama City boat, Miss Mimi, brought a 374.2 pounder to the scales.

In what is believed to be a first for the tournament, lady anglers swept the Tuna Division as Sherry Polk on Share-E hoisted a 134.2 pounder, Reel Addiction’s Laurie McVay claimed second at 103.8 pounds, and Judy Wireman's took third for Carib with 97.6 pounds. All told, the ladies took home over $100,000.

This year saw the return of the 40/40 Shootout, a one day event specially designed for boats up to 40 feet in length. Josh Herren aboard Crikey brought in the biggest tuna of the weekend and set a new 40/40 record with a 155.2 pound monster and was rewarded with a check for $10,296. Logan Lovett on Bravo Six topped the wahoo leaderboard at 51 pounds, and Patrick McCarthey landed the largest dolphin for Wide Open with a 25 pound offering.

**
Invitational Results:**

Blue Marlin (tournament awards First Place only) – 1. Russell Bailey, Pipe Dream, 665 lbs

Swordfish – 1. Bill Young, Bertie Sea, 130.2 lbs; 2. Preston Green, Lucky 2, 84.8 lbs.

Tuna – 1. Sherry Polk, Share-E, 134.2 lbs; 2. Laurie McVay, Reel Addiction, 103.8 lbs; 3. Judy Wireman, Carib, 97.6 lbs

Wahoo – 1. Mickey Sears, Cazador, 70.8 lbs; 2. Helmut Harfmann, Cat-N-Round, 59.2 lbs; 3. Larry Butler, Titanium 5.0, 53.6 lbs

Dolphin – 1. Blake Roberts, Mollie, 42.2 lbs; 2. James Smith, Green Flash, 41.2 lbs; 3. Shane Byrne, Testing the Water, 40 lbs

**
40/40 Shootout Results:**

Swordfish – No swordfish brought to the scales.

Tuna – 1. Josh Herren, Crikey, 155.2 lbs; 2. Jerry Roberts, Salt Shaker, 91 lbs; 3. Robbie Roberts, Wide Open, 20.6 lbs

Wahoo – 1. Logan Lovett, Bravo Six, 51 lbs; 2. Richard Leap, CariLynd, 48.4 lbs; 3. Tony Griffin, Quack O Noon, 33.8 lbs

Dolphin – 1. Patrick McCarthey, Wide Open, 25 lbs; 2. Darryl Rudd, Hold Em Hook, 23.8 lbs; 3. Robert Hutson, III, Peggy Sue, 21.4 lbs

The Bay Point Invitational annually commits all proceeds from the tournament to the St. Joe Community Foundation. The Foundation in turn distributes all funds to three local children’s organizations: the Boys and Girls Club of Bay County, the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center and Anchorage Children’s Home.

Hosted by the St. Joe Company and Bay Point Marina, the 28th Annual Bay Point Invitational is slated for July 11-15, 2012. For more information, please visit www.baypointbillfish.com.