June 7, 2015; Biloxi, Mississippi:
By Capt. Dave Lear
Two times is the now the charm. For the second year in a row, the top blue marlin in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic was captured by a lady angler. Eighteen-year-old Katie Gonsoulin of Houma, Louisiana, outlasted a 587.3-pound blue marlin after a fight lasting three hours and 40 minutes. Her proud father, Jon Gonsoulin, owner of Done Deal, had nothing but praise for his petite angler.
“My daughter did a great job on that fish,” Gonsoulin explained. “She never gave up. That fish died on us and the last hour she had to plane it to the surface. I’ve very proud of the way she stuck with it.” The marlin ate a live blackfin tuna “somewhere between Corpus and Miami,” Gonsoulin added with a laugh.
“It was an incredible feeling,” the 106-pound teenager said at the scales after the weight was announced. “I’ve got a great crew and I never once thought about giving up.” Capt. Jason Buck is the skipper on the 70 Viking convertible.
Owner Dana Foster and his skilled team aboard Born2Run, a 63 Hatteras GT based in Pensacola, Florida, made a late charge only to fall just short. Foster and company brought in a blue marlin that tipped the scales at 575.0 pounds, good for second place in the marlin division. That fight lasted two hours and 10 minutes.
“The last half hour was tough,” Foster recalled. It was a beautiful fish.” Born2Run’s blue ate a live tuna and the boat was near the Neptune oil rig, 180 miles from Biloxi, when they started the run back. Capt. Myles Colley said he only had 150 gallons of diesel left when they made the weigh scales at the Point Cadet Marina after that long run.
Angler Scott McKnight of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, picked a prime time to catch his first blue marlin aboard You Never Know!, which was also live-baiting near the Neptune Rig.
“There was a lot of bait around, but the barracuda were eating us up,” Capt. Joey Birbeck recalled. “We were down to our last bait and when the fish ate, I thought it was a shark at first. But when it jumped I knew that was the one and it worked out good.” The 517.2-pound blue was the third largest marlin of the 2015 event. Crippler (496.5), Reel Fuelish (378.7), Cotton Patch (367.7) and Shameless (317.9) also weighed blue marlin on Saturday. In the Catch and Release Division, Caribe emerged triumphant with 1,800 points based on time, barely edging Mollie.
Dan St. Germain on Rising Sons was the top tuna angler with his 161.6-pound yellowfin. In the close dolphin division, Lee M. Norris on Reel Fuelish was the top stick with his 39.6 gaffer. Stephen Chapman, fishing aboard A Work of Art, won the wahoo division with a 63.6-pound speedster.
The 2015 MGCBC concludes Sunday morning at the awards breakfast at the Golden Nugget Casino Resort, where more than $1.2 million in prize money will be handed out. The final optional cash awards distribution is still to be determined. But one thing is already certain—the big winner is the little lady aboard Done Deal who done good. Very good.