Reel Steel Wins the Custom Shootout

Hines Farley Crew Triumphs Over Last-Minute Push in Intense Billfish Competition
Team Sandman standing at an awards ceremony holding their trophies and oversized check.
The crew of the Reel Steel celebrates victory at the Custom Shootout. Courtesy Skip’s Tournaments/Debra Todd

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A fleet of 59 custom boats gathered in the Abaco Islands from May 15-18 for the 22nd annual Custom Shootout, releasing 197 billfish, including 93 blue marlin, 55 white marlin and 49 sailfish.

The tournament began under challenging conditions, with heavy rain and rough seas. While conditions weren’t ideal for the fishing fleet, the rain provided much-needed relief onshore, where numerous fires had kept the local volunteer fire department busy over the previous three weeks. Incognito took an early lead on Day One by releasing three blue marlin. Kickin Tires followed closely, catching two blue marlin and a white marlin to secure second place and the daily prize.

Day Two brought calmer seas, with Reel Steel winning the daily by releasing three blue marlin and one white marlin. Bar South took second place for the day with three blues and a sailfish release.
The annual Builders Night was an event highlight. A who’s who of custom boat builders were in attendance, including Randy Ramsey of Jarrett Bay, Rich Scheffer with Tribute, John Floyd of F&S, John Bayliss, Roy Merritt, Paul Spencer and Mike Rybovich. Other represented builders included Garlington, Willis and Jim Smith.

Day Three saw intense competition. Catch 23 released two blue marlin to jump into second place with only an hour left, putting pressure on Reel Steel. Despite their efforts, Catch 23 couldn’t complete the comeback and repeat their earlier win in the Production vs. Custom Shootout. Their two blue marlin and sailfish secured second place for the day, behind Fish Camp, which achieved a grand slam with two blue marlin, four white marlin and a sailfish.

Read Next: The Colorful History and Bright Future of the Custom Shootout.

When all the scores were tallied, Reel Steel emerged victorious, taking home a first-place check for $295,885, thanks to their five blue marlin and two white marlin releases. This marked the first Custom Shootout win for Reel Steel, a Hines Farley. Catch 23 finished in second place overall, earning $75,225, while Pescaria secured third place.

Marc Verzaleno was named top angler for the event, with Branden Day winning as top professional angler. Capt. Jason Parker was honored as top captain, and Nicole Scotti was named top lady angler.

In recognition of their efforts in combating recent wildfires and protecting citizens, the nonprofit tournament donated funds to the Abaco Volunteer Fire Department.

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