Rise Up weighs 502 pound Blue Marlin, wins $136,765
You Never Know Tags Two Blues, wins $109,325
Orange Beach Billfish Classic Donates $36,000 to The Billfish Foundation
Twenty-five teams competed in less than ideal fishing conditions this past weekend in the 17th Annual Orange Beach Billfish Classic at The Wharf in Orange Beach. Rise Up, a 56 Viking from Destin, FL boated a 108" blue marlin that weighed 502.2 pounds to win the blue marlin category. Rusty Skalla and his team also released a blue marlin to take third place in catch and release and also finished in third place in the dolphin category. Rise Up was the top money earning boat collecting a check for $136,765.
Ono Ocean, from Boca Grande, FL finished in second place in the blue marlin category and won $40,080 with a 424.4-pound fish. Iona Louise rounded out the top three with a 359.8-pound marlin and pocketed $29,870. The fish caught by Iona Louise had a very old tag in from The Billfish Foundation. Scientists are trying to recover the historical data on the very tattered tag. "I've never seen a tag that appeared to be in a fish as long as this one," said OBBC weigh master Craig Marin.
You Never Know took home top honors in two different categories. The Baton Rouge, LA based team on a 72' F &S won the dolphin category with a 42.6 pound Mahi Mahi. They also won the catch and release category by tagging two blue marlin. You Never Know was awarded the Johnny Johnson Memorial Award for being the top catch and release team in the tournament. Their combined winnings for catch and release and dolphin was $109,325. Just The Tip released a blue marlin to finish second in catch and release and Rise Up with a blue marlin release finished in third place.
Rounding out the dolphin category was Aldente at 29.2 pounds for second place and Rise Up with a third place fish that weighed 27.8 pounds. Conundrum won the wahoo category with a 37.8-pound fish, followed by Melanie at 34.0 and Iona Louise came in third place at 31.2.
Lots of tunas were brought to scales both Friday and Saturday nights. After all the fish had been weighed, Just The Tip was on top with a 164.2 yellowfin tuna. Kemosabe caught a 158.2-pound big eye tuna for second place followed by Cotton Patch in third place at 141.4 pounds.
As per usual the OBBC handed out a sizable charitable donation to The Billfish Foundation at the conclusion of the event. "This is why we put on this tournament," said Johnny Dorland. Dorland, Tournament Director Kate Dorland, and the tournament committee presented a check for $36,000 to Ellen Peel of The Billfish Foundation at the awards breakfast.
The donation is $11,000 more than was given at last year's tournament. "This tournament gives all the proceeds to charity and presenting that check at the end of the tournament is always the highlight of my weekend," said Johnny Dorland. Thirty-six boats had pre-registered for the tournament, but nine backed out due to a daunting pre-tournament marine forecast.
The Orange Beach Billfish Classic is also the first event of the Gulf Coast Triple Crown. After this event, the current leader is Rise Up with 375 points, followed by Ono Ocean with 175 points and You Never Know in third place with 125 points.