Draggin’ Up

January 1st, 2020

dragginupmarlin Draggin Up

It took Draggin’ Up 20 hours to bring in this blue marlin! They placed third with this fish at the 2018 Poco Bueno Tournament.

Family, friends and most importantly, fun on Chris Heule’s tournament winning 74’ Viking

By Brandon Rowan

For Chris Heule, owner of Draggin’ Up, it’s all about being out there with family and friends. Catching fish is just the icing on the cake. Draggin’ Up has hit the ground running in the short couple years they’ve been on the tournament scene. Multiple blue marlin have hit the scales, awards have collected and tournaments have been won. That’s a whole lot of extra icing.

“I bought Draggin’ Up in September of 2016. I had always wanted a sportfish,” Chris Heule said. “I have a big family, with a lot of friends, so I was looking for something that could handle the crowd of people that we run with.”

Chris was born and raised in Seabrook and hasn’t strayed too far since. He now calls Friendswood home but keeps Draggin’ Up at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook.

“I’ve always enjoyed the water so I wanted to stay near the water,” Chris said.

tbc draggin up Draggin Up

Crew, family and friends celebrate a win at the Texas Billfish Classic.

Family First

Chris and his family fell in love with the room and performance that a Viking Yachts 74, like Draggin’ Up, has to offer.

“My son Sam loves to fish too, so him and the crew he brings make a big impact on the boat,” Chris said. “All of his friends hang out with us.”

Chris and his son, Sam Rasberry, share a mutual passion for fishing and hunting, and get to spend a lot of time together. But it’s not a boys club out there. Chris’ wife Erika and his daughter Kennedy also love boating and fishing. Kennedy recently caught her first sailfish on a trip to Isla Mujeres

“I don’t have to bargain with Erika to go out on the boat, she’s always ready to go fishing!” Chris said.

Owner Chris Heule, center, with Sam Rasberry and Capt. Kevin Deerman.

At the Helm

No ship is complete without a captain and Draggin’ Up has one of the best in the biz. Capt. Kevin Deerman has been fishing most of his life and took his first captain job in 1986. Deerman has some serious notches on his belt. As former captain of the Legacy, he was at the helm when angler Richard B. Richardson, Jr. reeled in the 972.72 lb. Texas state record blue marlin during the 2014 Bastante John Uhr Memorial Billfish Tournament.

“Kevin Deerman:  He is the reason we do what we do,” Chris said of his captain. “He has really pole vaulted us to the marlin and bigger gamefish we are catching now. We wouldn’t be where we are now without our crew and Kevin.”

Before Draggin’ Up, Chris and Kevin were strangers, but closer to each other than they knew.

“We didn’t know each other but it’s crazy how many mutual friends that we had,” Kevin said. “But I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have Chris and his family in my life. They’re great people and they enjoy doing the things that I love. If they weren’t so passionate about fishing we wouldn’t be out there doing what we’re doing.”

Tricks of the Trade

We all know the drill. The pineapple is a must and absolutely no bananas on board. Every boat has their own superstitions and rituals and Draggin’ Up is no exception. Chris, Kevin and Sam lit up with excitement when asked about theirs.

“Oh man, I didn’t before I met Kevin but now I have a whole slew of them,” Chris laughed. “Some of them we can talk about, some are hush hush.”

And I’m good with that. Here at GCM, we’re not about giving away fishing spots or secret tournament rain dances. But Chris and company were gracious enough to let me share a few of them. Dunkaroos are big on Draggin’ Up.

“That’s when you take a bucket full of ice and water and you stick your head in there. When you come up you drink a beer.”  Sam Rasberry said. “Every since we started doing that we seem to get a marlin bite a few minutes later so we keep it going.”

The guys agree that the boat has to be jamming Post Malone and of course, no bananas are allowed on board. Kevin experimented with two pineapples for extra luck but went back to a solo fruit after that didn’t work out. Maybe the fish gods found it greedy.

The guys on Draggin’ Up also insist that Chris keep his comments to a minimum.

“We can’t let Chris make any comments on anything that might happen because then it will happen,” Kevin said.

For example, Chris couldn’t help but talk about how good a hook-up ratio they were having during a trip. But on the next trip out, the boat only went 1 for 5.

“And on another trip, Chris said to me ‘It’s amazing we haven’t seen any sharks in a long time!’” Kevin said.  “So I yell down ‘One shark, coming up!’ It wasn’t more than 30 seconds later that a 500 lb. tiger shark came up chasing the teaser. Of course, it took a bait and we caught it.”

Tournament Success

In their first tournament season, Draggin’ Up came out swinging. In 2017, they clinched a 4th place blue marlin at Poco Bueno, Kanon Lasserre was named top junior angler at the Lone Star Shootout, and they weighed a 3rd place blue marlin at Texas Legends Billfish Tournament. Things got even better in 2018 with a 3rd place blue marlin at Poco Bueno and a 1st place win at the Texas Billfish Classic in Freeport. The boat stays busy and fishes tournaments up and down the Gulf Coast.

“We really like the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic. We look forward to that one every year, but we have so many good ones on our coast,” Chris said.

“The Houston Big Game is another one of our favorite competitions,” Kevin added. “We got top private boat the first and second year we entered.”

In 2018, the boat also collected awards for Top Captain, Kevin Deerman, Top Male Angler, Sam Rasberry, and 2nd place blue marlin, Chris Heule.

Draggin’ Up likes to keep the mood light and the mojo going during tournament time. Rituals and superstitions come into play and also antics, like catching fish out of an inflatable kiddie pool on the cockpit, are not out of the question.

The boat’s second favorite fish to catch is Yellowfin Tuna but they never get tired of seeing the man in the blue suit.

“When a blue marlin hits your bait, it’s completely different than anything else out there,” Kevin said.

Chris agrees.

“You could be having the slowest day, with everyone walking around pouting and moping, and the mojo on the boat is completely down, but when that bait goes off everyone’s attitude completely changes,” Chris said.

Fish From Hell

The Bahamas are a favorite destination for Chris Heule and Draggin’ Up.

The guys from Draggin’ Up have seen some truly wild occurrences in the few years the boat’s been on the water. The boat travels and Chris’ absolute favorite destination is the Bahamas. But the water is not without peril. The boat encountered a tropical wave on a trip to Isla Mujeres one year and the next year they were struck by lightning. But the one story that stands head and shoulders above the rest is the 20 hour blue marlin fight during the 2018 Poco Bueno Tournament.

“We have so many memories from this boat but that one marlin trumps anything we’ve ever done. Fish don’t usually last that long,” Chris said.

The crew did everything they could to stay awake during the fight and Chris never left the fighting chair.

“We tried every trick in the book,” Kevin said. “We made circles on it, tried getting it to come up, or on both sides of the boat and the fish just kept switching on us. It was on the leader most of the time.”

The man on the leader, Andy Hollen, literally collapsed once the fish was landed. It took 20 hours, and a fight reminiscent of The Old Man and the Sea, but the crew was able to capture third place in the tournament with the 575.5 lb marlin.

The majority of billfish are tagged and released on Draggin’ Up.

Many Firsts

Chris entertains a large group of friends and family on Draggin’ Up and the boat boasts several first catches. At least 18 people have caught and released their first blue marlin on board.

“When we go out and fish, we tag and release the majority of billfish,” Chris said. “It’s important to do what’s right and preserve what we do. It’s not always about killing. We are passing on the future of these fish still being able to be caught where we live.”

The amount of billfish released far outnumbers those retained. Kevin can count on two hands the amount of marlin retained over the years, including time before Draggin’ Up.

All in all, Team Draggin’ Up doesn’t have too much to complain about, especially with all of their accomplishments in such a short span of time. They continue to stay the course with family, friends and fun out on the water. Look for Chris Heule, Kevin Deerman, Sam Rasberry, mates Conner Golightly, Seth Brennan and the whole Draggin’ Up extended family, to continue making waves in the 2020 billfish tournament season.

Draggin’ Up Wins the 2018 Texas Billfish Classic

August 15th, 2018

team draggin up marlin Draggin Up Wins the 2018 Texas Billfish Classic

Draggin’ Up were named tournament champions and won the blue marlin division with their 514 lb fish.

The Texas Billfish Classic saw continued growth in participation and a substantial increase in prize money during its third year. The TBC fleet released eight blue marlin, one white marlin, six sailfish and weighed one big blue marlin. The TBC is one of the fastest growing billfish tournaments in Texas and the only event that allows participants to leave at noon on Thursday and begin fishing right away on the same day.

Draggin’ Up, a 74’ Viking from Houston, was the only boat to weigh a blue marlin on Saturday, Aug. 4 to claim top honors in the Blue Marlin Division. Angler Sam Rasberry’s 119.5 inch blue marlin topped the scales at 514 pounds.

“We were having a slow first day with no bites, so we decided to make a move for second day. We got the bite shortly after 9 a.m.,” said Draggin’ Up Captain Kevin Deerman. “We definitely knew the fish was a keeper after second set of jumps and got the gaffs ready. Great tournament and worked out for us betting heavy in the Blue Marlin kill pots!”

In the Billfish Release Division, Bimini Babe a 74’ Viking, took home top honors with three blue marlin releases and one sailfish, while Tico Time, a 65’ Hatteras, released one blue marlin and two sailfish to finish in second place. Over-Ride, a 64’ Titan, finished in third place releasing one blue marlin.

The Bimini Babe Team was also crowned Champions of the Billfish Classic Cup. This new event was developed to reward competitive teams fishing in both the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and the Texas Billfish Classic. Owner Babe Appling, Captain Robert Jones and team left with an extra $10,000 and custom art to commemorate the big win!

The Tuna category was won by Clark Miller from Smoker II with a 93-pound Yellowfin. No stranger to the podium, Kurt Pantle on $EA DOLLAR$ came in second at 90 pounds, followed by Lee Bull on the REHAB at 50 pounds. A nice summer wahoo raised the bar pretty high as Jasen Gast and the REHAB crew pulled up his 51-pound fish, barely topping the second place fish brought in by Tiger Neal on the Smoker II. Brian Wood of Draggin’ Up, came in third at 29 pounds. The Dolphin category was taken with the only qualifying fish at 23 pounds by Chris Gavlick aboard the REHAB.

The Top Lady Angler was Emma Griffith on Over-Ride and the Top Junior Angler Award was presented to Ethan Middleton on the Change Order.

RESULTS:

Blue Marlin
1st- 514.0 lbs. Draggin’ Up – Angler Sam Rasberry

Catch and Release
1st – 2,000 pts – Bimini Babe – Captain Robert Jones

2nd – 1,000 pts – Tico Time – Captain Mike Hester

3rd – 600 pts – Over-Ride – Captain Jacob Dawson

Tuna
1st – 93 lbs – Smoker II – Clark Miller

2nd – 90 lbs – $ea Dollar$ – Kurt Pantle

3rd – 50 lbs – REHAB – Lee Bull

Wahoo
1st – 51 lbs – REHAB – Jasen Gast

2nd – 47 lbs – Smoker II – Tiger Neal

3rd – 29 lbs – Draggin’ Up – Brian Wood

Dolphin
1st – 23 lbs – REHAB – Chris Gavlick

Top Lady Angler
Emma Griffith on the Over-Ride

Top Junior Angler
Ethan Middleton on the Change Order