Final Update from the Championship
by Capt. Dave Lear
July 14, 2018; The Wharf Marina, Orange Beach, Alabama:
In the end, it came down to a shootout between two former Triple Crown champions with another four not-so-innocent bystanders. By the time the flames and smoke had cleared, only one was left standing. Strangely enough, that team had to settle for second place.
Perennial contender Done Deal
did it again when the Houma, Louisiana team brought a 640.8-pound blue marlin to the scales. That fish, which had the leader wrapped behind its dorsal fin, was finally gaffed after being wired more than a dozen times. Katie Gonsoulin, daughter of boat owner Jon Gonsoulin, spent eight hours in the fighting chair in order to whip the 117-inch billfish.
“The team kept encouraging me, giving me water and food and keeping me cool,” Katie said after the weight was announced to the crowd of thousands at The Wharf entertainment complex in Orange Beach. “These are the best guys ever and this was a total team effort.”
“Katie was great,” added Done Deal
skipper Jason Buck. “She never gave up. I would have given up on that fish.”Done Deal’s
catch vaulted the team into second place in the blue marlin category but it was not enough to supplant Friday’s leader, Shock Wave
. Breathe Easy
, with Capt. Patrick Ivie on the throttles, made a late challenge by weighing the team’s first marlin in the BMGC. At 598.2 pounds it would guarantee angler Rick Olsen and the team third place in the signature category.
Four other teams would weigh blue marlin on Saturday night in the final hours of the 2018 contest.Reel Addiction
came up short in its quest for the Triple Crown Championship after weighing a 499.2-pound blue (Kenny Way). REHAB
(486, Jasen Gast), Black Sheep
(481, Ryan McKenzie) and Click Through
(468, Keith English) also weighed Saturday night, which featured flames shooting out the mouths of the stainless steel marlin sculptures straddling the scales. Done Deal
settled for first place in the Release Division with four blues and one white released, good for 2,254 points. Team Galati
was second with 2,004 points (four blues), followed by Melanie
Larry Wireman and the Carib
team set a new tournament record after boating a yellowfin that tipped the scales at 192.2 pounds. Nick Pratt, fishing aboard Hauling Away
was second with a 183.2-pound fish, while Ashley Faulkner whipped a 158.6-pound yellowfin fishing on Team American
This year’s dolphin division was tightly contested with some nice bulls on display. Chris Williams on REHAB
took top honors with his 45-pounder. Drew Marshall, competing aboard his family’s boat, Traders Hill
, was just behind with a 42.6-pound fish. Owner/angler Scott Cooper on CE
rounded out the category with a 39.8 dolphin.
Billy Richardson, competing aboard Southern Miss
, captured the top wahoo for the tournament after landing a 56.6 speedster. Joey Diffatta on Gunnfighter
whipped a 49-pound ‘hoo, while Neal Foster on Intense
boated the third-largest fish at 34.6 pounds.
With $1.88 million in prize money on the line amongst the record 76-boat fleet, the 2018 Blue Marlin Grand Championship set several new benchmarks. The prize money and individual honors for the top lady and junior angler will be announced at the Sunday awards breakfast.