Usually comprised of five tournaments, the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship series was cut short this year when Hurricane Barry set its sights on the fishing grounds. As a result, the Blue Marlin Grand Championship was canceled because of unsafe conditions.
Going into the last leg, the three-time GCTC champion team, Done Deal, and 2015 series winner, Relentless Pursuit, were tied with 625 points, but series rules state ties are broken based on the largest blue marlin landed in any of the tournament legs. This gave Relentless Pursuit a one-up on Done Deal and a second championship win for the team.
Relentless Pursuit‘s Dennis Pastentine and Capt. Robbie Doggett also won the largest blue marlin prize with a 658.2-pound fish that was hooked within the first 45 minutes of Leg One—the Orange Beach Billfish Classic. After a 130-mile run offshore and a one-hour 45-minute fight, the fish was captured on a pink Islander/ballyhoo combo: “Stinky Pinky,” as the team calls it.
“We don’t have the patience to live-bait,” Doggett says, “but we’ve been pretty successful with our style of fishing.”
And successful they are. Running a 95-foot Jim Smith, the team also won the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic with three blue marlin releases.
Crediting wins as a team effort, he insists the 2019 season was all about former teammate Dale Artigue, who died just before the holidays.
Learn more about live-baiting in the Gulf of Mexico.
“His spirit is always with us in the cockpit,” Doggett says.
Series runner-up Jon Gonsoulin’s Done Deal team finished second in release points in the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic and MGCBC events, with angler Katie Gonsoulin’s 535.5-pound blue placing second in the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic big fish category. Fleur de Lis, a 72-foot Viking run by Capt. Scooter Porto, placed third in the series standings with 500 points, weighing in a 602.7-pound blue marlin landed by Hunter Myer in the Cajun Canyons event.
Scott Burt, the Gulf Coast Triple Crown coordinator, offered these words: “It was a tough season with all the weather issues, but Capt. Robbie [Doggett], Dennis [Pastentine], and the Relentless Pursuit team once again lived up to the boat’s name and came out on top. Congratulations to them and well done to all the competing teams. We look forward to another exciting finish as the championship celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2020.”