June 6, 2015; Biloxi, Mississippi:
By Capt. Dave Lear
With only hours of fishing remaining in the 2015 Mississippi Gulf Coast Blue Marlin Classic, anticipation grows by the minute. Reports of a strong bite Thursday afternoon and throughout the day Friday show a tally of 20 billfish released so far. Five boats have boated blue marlin, although none elected to return to the scales Friday. Which means the docks will definitely be at a fever pitch by tonight. Shameless is already in with a 103-inch fish to be weighed as soon as the scales open at 3 p.m.
You Never Know! was the first boat to report landing a blue. Preliminary measurements by the crew showed a length of 111 inches. Done Deal followed up with another fish that taped out at 113 inches and before the day was over, Reel Fuelish and Cotton Patch had both landed fish measuring 103 inches. The tournament minimum length is 100 inches.
But length isn’t the only measurement necessary for an accurate estimate of a fish’s weight. Girth is also an important determination, along with where the measurements are taken. Most formulas—and there are several—measure length from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. Girth is also measured in inches at the widest circumference of the fish’s body. A popular formula takes the girth in inches, doubles that and then multiplies that figure by the fork length. That number is then divided by 800.
“A fish can be short and fat and still weigh a lot or long and skinny and miss the mark,” explains Classic Weigh Master Jack Teschel. “The weight can really fluctuate a great deal based on girth.”
Done Deal’s blue has a 64-inch girth based on initial measurements of the fish laying flat in the cockpit. Teschel says that would put it in the 560- to 600-pound weight range. You Never Know!’s blue will probably weigh between 520 to 560 pounds, while the other three boats, with identical length fish, might tip the scales around 400 pounds apiece.
For comparison, a fish meeting the 100-inch minimum length requirement would weigh approximately 340 to 350 pounds. The Classic’s all-time record, a 1,054.6-pound blue caught by Barry Carr aboard Seawolff in 2002, had a length of 138 inches, with a hefty girth of 72 inches. Fish can lose pounds after they are caught due to dehydration, so most crews wrap their catch in insulated bags packed with ice to minimize weight loss.
“There’s going to be some more big fish caught before the day is over,” Teschel predicted. “There’s a lot of good water southwest of the Mississippi River and a lot of bait. Done Deal lives in the Green Canyon and I suspect that’s where they found theirs. We’ll know for sure by tonight.”
The scales at the Point Cadet Marina open at 3 p.m. Saturday and will remain open until all qualifying fish are weighed. Boats must be inside designated markers by 8 p.m. for their catch to count. In addition to blue marlin, tuna, dolphin and wahoo are also eligible categories for the $1.2 million in prize money at stake. The scales are open to the public, with sponsor and food booths set up on site.
The 2015 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic is sponsored in part by the Golden Nugget Casino Resort, Captain Morgan White Rum, Galati Yacht Sales, Miller Lite, Release Marine, Budweiser, Costa, Mojo and the Laser Spine Institute.