Rise Up Tops the Fleet at the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic

The team pockets over $430,000 for the win

2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Rise Up first place awards
The Rise Up team takes center stage at the awards presentation for the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com

Rusty Skalla has a lot to smile about these days, thanks to his team's big win in the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. Skalla's Rise Up, a 54-foot Viking based in Destin, Florida, was on the bite during the tournament weekend, finding hot fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Angler Scott Poppell boated the 838.2-pound blue marlin to win big fish honors for the team, and they released two more to place second in the tournament's release division. They won a total of $431, 835 for the victory, from the tournament's record $1.95 million total cash purse.

“This was a huge win, especially for a hometown team. It’s always been a dream to win this tournament and now we’ve finally done it,” Skalla explained.

2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Breathe Easy second place blue marlin
Breathe Easy finished in second place in the blue marlin category.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com

But the event was far from a runaway. In a very close second was the season's hottest team, Breathe Easy, with an 835.8-pound blue marlin. The 2.4-pound difference meant Breathe Easy would settle for second place worth $257,400.

2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic The Kraken third place
Fishing from a 33-foot Conch center console, The Kraken team finished in third place.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com

The Kraken team placed third with a 652.2-pound blue marlin landed on 30-pound line from their 33 Conch center console. That feat earned the team third-place honors and $40,800. Done Deal boated a 409-pound blue marlin and won over $133,700 in optional jackpot cash, while Born2Run was the top release team with four blue marlin. The Marlin Darlin team set the tournament record for yellowfin tuna with their 190.6-pounder, and Lucky 2 set a new mark for wahoo at 112.2 pounds. Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and his Aldente team scaled the tournament's biggest mahimahi, a 36.6-pound bull that was worth $125,266.

2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic fleet departs
The fleet departs from Sandestin in calm conditions prior to the start of the tournament.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic miss emerald coast
Miss Emerald Coast was on hand throughout the weekend to congratulate all who weighed fish.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic
The crowds were enthusiastic and entertaining.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Baytowne Marina Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
The weigh in picks up as the boats start returning to Baytowne Marina at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Sandestin sunset
It's a beautiful sunset under clear Gulf Coast skies in Sandestin.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Scott Poppell winning blue marlin Rise Up
Rise Up angler Scott Poppell with his tournament-winning blue marlin.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic breathe easy second place
Breathe Easy weighed in on the first day of the tournament. Their big blue would eventually finish in second place by just 2.4 pounds.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic lynn layton lucky2 wahoo record
Lynn Layton's 112.2-pound wahoo set a new tournament record.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic done deal fourth place
Done Deal's blue marlin was the fourth-largest weighed in the tournament.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Emeril Lagasse mahimahi first place
Chef Emeril Lagasse's big mahimahi was worth a six-figure payday.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Reel Fire sunset Sandestin
Reel Fire comes to the scales at sunset.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Breathe Easy second place
For their second-place finish, Breathe Easy cashes in big during the ECBC.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Born2Run top release team
Topping the release standings was Born2Run, another team that's red-hot this summer.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic done deal
Done Deal takes home cash from the optional jackpots.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com
2016 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic
The Aldente team, led by Emeril Lagasse, first place in the mahimahi division.Courtesy ECBC / fishECBC.com