The Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship Series kicked off with the Orange Beach Billfish Classic, held out of The Wharf Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama. Thirty-one teams signed up to fish in this year’s tournament. Breathe Easy, a 68-foot Viking based out of Orange Beach, weighed the first blue marlin of the season at 574 pounds. It was a great start for the team of owner Matt McDonald, Capt. Patrick Ivey and angler Douglas Fletcher. But it would be Share-E emerging victorious in this year’s OBBC after owners Buell and Sherry Polk and Capt. Mike Roberto weighed their 651.2-pound blue. Sherry Polk was the angler on the big blue. An even larger 771-pounder was bought in by Rise Up, but mechanical issues prevented the team from making the 7 p.m. deadline, disqualifying their fish.
In the Catch and Release category, Mollie, a 66-foot G&S from Destin, Florida, released two blue marlin to win first place. Reel Addiction also released two blue marlin for a second place finish, followed by Dirt Pit in third place.
Sea Mixer won the tuna category with a 164.4-pound yellowfin. Call Me Gone boated the top mahimahi at 31 pounds and Nikki Bella won the wahoo division with a 75.4-pound fish.
At the awards ceremony, tournament directors Kate Dorland and Kate Ferrara presented a check for $31,000 to Ellen Peel of The Billfish Foundation. The Orange Beach Billfish Classic is TBF’s single largest annual tournament donor.