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As the 2023 Gulf of Mexico tournament season slides into memory, many crews were looking at travel plans, winter projects or the always-anticipated opening of hunting season. But not all of them. On October 19, the team on the 55-foot Viking Best Trait was still searching for a few last blue marlin to wrap up their season. With boat owner Scott Crump tied up with projects, he gave the thumbs-up for Capt. Chris Mowad and his crew to head out. After bouncing around a few of the oil and natural gas production rigs that dot the upper Gulf of Mexico, they settled at Blind Faith, approximately 60 miles from the Mississippi River delta and a prime spot known for big blues.
The team quickly deployed two live blackfin tuna, and it wasn’t long before the fish of a lifetime showed up. Mate Addison Gilley saw the bite and remarked that the fish’s tail looked like a giant thresher shark rather than a blue marlin. Angler Scott Anderson settled into the chair, and because of his experience with heavy tackle, he knew they had hooked a good one. The beast jumped twice going away from the boat before heading deep after the second jump. It was at that point that the pressure changed; the pull had ceased, and the fish had died in the depths below.
At this point, the crew realized what had happened and moved the drag to full to plane the fish to the surface, just a few feet at a time. It was arduous, backbreaking work, but once the marlin broke the surface, they understood that it was all worthwhile. After finally wrestling the blue into the boat, they took the first measurements—a short length of 14 inches, a girth of 82 inches, and a tail-stump circumference of 20.5 inches.
After making a few calls, the team elected to head for Orange Beach Marina, where a certified scale from the Mobile Big Game Fishing Club was awaiting them, along with Orange Beach Marina general manager Jimmy Beason, who would serve as weighmaster. After carefully zeroing the scale, the digital readout settled on 1,145.6 pounds, enough to smash the long-standing Gulf of Mexico record of 1,054 pounds caught by Barry Carr in 2002. It also beat the existing Alabama state record of 851.9 pounds by nearly 30 pounds.