June 11, 2011, Biloxi, Mississippi
By Capt. Dave Lear
Sports enthusiasts say records are meant to be broken. If that’s the case, sportfishing history was made yesterday as four blue marlin were brought to the scales at the Point Cadet Marina during the first day of the 15th annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic. That marks the first time that many blues were weighed on the initial day scales were open.
Cole Casady of Corpus Christi, Texas, was the biggest winner so far after he and his team aboard Patron weighed in a 702.5-pound blue early Friday evening. The big fish ate a green/yellow Black Bart lure and was captured after a 50-minute fight on 130-pound line. Teammate Eric Carr also recorded the first tuna of this year’s event, a 76.5-pound yellowfin.
Testing the Water, a 68 Viking, notched the first entry of the day, another blue that weighed in at 585.9 pounds, currently good for second place. Scott Green of Morgan City, Louisiana, was the angler. The fish ate a skirted horse ballyhoo and was subdued after a 40-minute fight. Testing the Water was fishing near the ThunderHorse rig to make the catch.
“There were enormous numbers of large blackfin tuna around all night,” said owner Charles Byrne of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “We hooked up around 7:30 this morning and it was a fairly short fight.” Byrne and his crew were trolling six lines and two teasers when the fish ate the blue Ilander/ballyhoo combo rigged with an 11/0 hook off the right outrigger.
“We love this tournament,” Byrne added. “We always have a great time every year, and we’re glad the marina is open again.” Testing the Water boated a winning bluefin tuna during the 2009 Classic, and this year is the second time the boat has competed. The 2010 Classic was cancelled due to the Gulf oil spill.
Keeping the crowd of cheering on-lookers in suspense almost to the very end, C-Ya, a custom yacht out of Grande Isle, Louisiana, backed up to the dock at 10:30 last night, just 30 minutes before the scales officially closed. Congressman Jeff Landry and his team unloaded a blue marlin that tipped the scales at 536 pounds, good for third place. The marlin ate a live blackfin tuna and was boated after a fight lasting one hour and 20 minutes. C-Ya was working schools of bait near the Mad Dog rig when the fish hit.
“I love this tournament,” Landry, the Louisiana Representative for the 3rd Congressional District said after the weight was announced to roars from the crowd. “I’ve been fishing it several years now. It feels great to get on the board. We’re getting a lot more accomplished out there in the Gulf of Mexico than we are in Washington,” he added with a laugh. One of Landry’s team-mates was Congressman Steve Southerland of Panama City, Florida. Southerland represents the 2nd Congressional District of Florida.
“This is my first time at the Classic,” Southerland said. “What a great experience! We’ve been running wide open since 1 p.m. to make the scales on time.”
Miss Remy, a custom Sportsman yacht out of Venice, Louisiana, also got in the record book on Friday by weighing in a 453.6-pound blue marlin. Angler John Gonsoulin of Houma, Louisiana, and his crew were also fishing the Mad Dog oil platform near the Green Canyon.
“What a start,” Tournament Director Bobby Carter said after the scales finally shut down. “With all this action, we’re going to be absolutely slammed with fish tomorrow. It’ll be a great finish.”
Fishing continues until 6 p.m. today. Boats weighing fish must make the long run back in and be at the docks by 11 p.m. for their catch to count. If Friday was any indication, more records are bound to fall.