The Texas Legends Billfish Tournament was created from a previous tournament called the Bob Byrd Memorial Marlin Tournament. Bob Byrd, Sr. was an innovator and was one of the first Texas fishermen to try trolling artificial lures for billfish instead of traditional natural bait. He also pioneered using Hawaiian-style live baiting techniques with great success.
The memorial tournament was founded by his son Bobby Byrd and Capt. John Cochrane in 1999. They had a concept for a big-money tournament promoting billfish release with video verification. In 2006, the tournament moved to Port Aransas, Texas, and was renamed the Texas Legends Billfish Tournament. Since 2006, only five blue marlin have been weighed.
Despite a reduced fleet from a threat by Tropical Storm Franklin, the bite was on in this year’s event. Over 68 billfish were caught by the fleet of 28 boats, fishing for a cash prize purse of over $425,000.
Amid great fishing, Will Cocke’s Suzy Q fought off challenges from several boats to claim victory, which also included a grand slam. In two days of fishing, they tallied 1,550 points from two blues, three whites and a sail, all released aboard their 61-foot Viking captained by Eric Carr. Lady Mary Ann, a 52-foot Viking owned by Ron and Mary Ann Rabb and skippered by Aaron Belcher, also claimed a grand slam to come within 100 points of the leaders; they released a blue, three whites and five sails in the tournament. Freebird won third place; the 54-foot Sportsman owned by David Blackbird had a blue marlin, three white marlin and four sailfish to earn 1,350 points. The largest fish weighed as a 146.4-pound swordfish caught by Robert Brown on Mono Chongo.