In spite of the weather and an ongoing pandemic, the 57 boats who fished this year’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic were treated to some of the best blue marlin fishing the Gulf of Mexico has ever seen, releasing 101 billfish during the 2.5-day tournament. When the spray finally settled, It Just Takes Time won for the overall largest blue marlin at 570.2 pounds, and Born2Run topped the release standings with 10 blue marlin and 6,000 points.
It Just Takes Time owner and angler Nick Pratt needed about 80 minutes to land the winning marlin aboard the 72-foot Viking from Orange Beach, Alabama. Capt. Chris Hood was asked about where he felt they stood once their fish was weighed: “At that point in the tournament, there were still a lot of good teams out there competing. We knew two more were coming in, but we hoped ours would hold on. We just did our part and let the chips fall where they may.”
Angler Joey Geil, Capt. Logan Lovett and the team aboard Lisa Jo, a 55-foot Scarborough from Orange Beach, Alabama, boated the second-place blue, weighing in at 527.3 pounds. Lolita, a 68-foot Hatteras based in Destin, Florida, brought the third-place marlin to the scales at 508.2 pounds.
But the story of the tournament belonged to the release division winners, Born2Run owner Dana Foster and Capt. Myles Colley. Worth $120,825, their 10 blue marlin releases is now the tournament record to beat in the Gulf.
“What a fun time!” Foster said before Sunday’s awards ceremony. “We heard the radio reports coming in and knew this was not going to be the typical tournament. Normally four or five releases will win it, but we just kept plugging away.” All the marlin were caught on live bait fished in the Mississippi Canyon.
Chris Ferrara and the Reel Fire team, with Capt. Chase Lake at the helm, finished second in the release division with eight blue marlin, as well as a third-place tuna at 163.6 pounds. Breathe Easy, a 72-foot Viking owned by Matt McDonald and run by Capt. Patrick Ivie, took third-place for their seven blue marlin releases.
“What an epic showcase of big-game fishing,” tournament director Bobby Carter said afterward. “We’ve never seen anything like that in the history of this event, or any other. But it just reinforces the quality of the fishery here in the Gulf and the skills of the teams competing in the Classic. It was an incredible tournament.”