April 14, 2014
By Capt. Dave Lear
It takes skill, timing, coordination and being in the right spot at the right time to seriously compete in a major billfish tournament. Having a little bit of luck on your side certainly doesn’t hurt either. All those factors came into play for Team Breathe Reel Deep last year, as the Orange Beach, Alabama-based 50 Ocean captured the Top Boat Honors in the 2013 Classic. Led by owner Michael Shawn Clemons Sr. and his son, Capt. Shawn Clemons Jr., the team won the Catch & Release Division by whipping two blues and three white marlin. For their efforts, they pocketed $73,450 in winnings.
As top boat Breathe Reel Deep also earned an invitation to the 2014 Offshore World Championship, an annual contest pitting the top tournament teams from around the globe against each other. The OWC concluded last week in Quepos, Costa Rica and Breathe Reel Deep again kept up its winning ways, placing fifth overall among the field of 64 teams. Breathe Reel Deep finished with 12,500 points after releasing 61 billfish and earned top daily honors on the last day with 32 releases. Marina Pez Vela was the OWC’s host facility.
The Offshore World Championship is an invitational all-release event with IGFA angling rules. Only dead bait rigged with circle hooks or lures are allowed and teams rotate boats each day among the designated tournament fleet. Blue and black marlin count for 500 points, while Pacific sailfish and striped marlin score 200. Hunter Green was the team’s top angler with 12 sails and one blue marlin, while Jason Pate followed up with 12 sails as well. Other team members included Darwin Ellison, Chad Eugene Foster, Toby Berthelot and Bobby Wade in addition to Green, Pate and the Clemons duo.
To say the bite was hot is putting it mildly. Blast furnace is more accurate. The 2014 OWC set a new three-day record for billfish releases with 2,314 fish. Overall, the tallies totaled 2,735 billfish, including 2,726 sailfish, seven blue marlin, one black and one striper. The ratio of billfish caught per boat was 42.73 fish.
“Team Breathe Reel Deep showed the world how good Gulf Coast crews really are,” says Classic tournament director Bobby Carter, who was in Quepos during the event to cheer on the local boys. “These guys competed against the best and held their own and then some. I’m very proud of them and I’m sure all their fellow Classic competitors are too. We all know we’ve got the best anglers and crews right here in Biloxi and Team Breathe Reel Deep just confirmed that. And I’m also sure they’ll be more than willing to defend their Top Boat title come June 3. So congratulations on a job well-done. You made us all proud!”