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Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Sets Single Team Payout Record

June 25th, 2019

ECBCChamps 300x200 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Sets Single Team Payout Record

totals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo credits: www.maximpactphotos.com

Sunday night couldn’t come soon enough for Nick Pratt and the crew aboard It Just Takes Time, a 62 Viking based in Orange Beach, Alabama. After weighing a 574-pound blue marlin on Saturday night, the crew had to wait it out to see if any other qualifiers would make it to the scales Sunday. None did. As a result, the team swept the blue marlin division, multiple optional entries and won the 2019 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, earning $596,025. That single team payout is the new ECBC record and one of the largest ever for a Gulf big-game fishing tournament. A total of 80 boats competed in the 17th annual event for more than $1.86 million in cash prizes.

“There are a lot of good boats in this fleet,” Pratt said at the awards ceremony at the Baytowne Marina. Pratt was the angler on the fish and also owns It Just Takes Time. It was the first marlin caught on the new boat and only the second blue he’s landed. “So we were very nervous today. We spent it fishing and actually released a blue and caught a dolphin. But everyone was clock-watching.” Capt. Chris Hood was at the helm during the fight, with mates Boone and Donnie Shear in the cockpit. Chapman Cook and Brandon Myer were the other anglers.

“We’re very fired up. Winning this kind of money is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Pratt added. “But I always believe in bet big to win big. This is the best week, by far, I’ve ever spent fishing and the ECBC is the greatest tournament ever!”

There was plenty of action in the billfish release division. Past ECBC champion Done Deal, with Katie Gonsoulin in the chair and Capt. Jason Buck on the bridge, won Top Release Angler, Top Lady Angler and Second Place Release Boat by letting three blues swim away. With optional entries, the team is taking home $163,939. Done Deal is a 70 Viking based in Houma, Louisiana and a perennial contender on the Gulf blue-water circuit. Capt. Clayt James and his crew aboard Chasin Tail, an 80 Weaver Boat Works, claimed top honors in the Release Division, also with three blues on time, for an impressive $229,145 payout. Southern Charm, a 63 Hatteras run by Capt. Bo Keough, was the third-place release team with two blues credited ($75,980).

Jeff Cultan and Triple Threat (Capt. Chilli Willams) cranked in the largest tuna for the week, a 167.5-pound yellowfin. That catch earned the team a $126,310 payday. Capt. Cricket Crochet, Christa Forrester and the anglers aboard Restless boated the second-largest tuna at 157.2 pounds, worth $47,872. Hunter Ryan, Capt. Bennie Goldman and Reelentless took third-place tuna honors with a 148.2-pounder, good for a $90,497 check.

Local team Mollie, with Capt. Jeff Shoults on the throttles, boated the largest of many dolphin weighed in Sunday. Mollie’s fish, caught by Hugh Flanagan, tipped the scales at 44.8 pounds, paying $25,600. Phen-Syn (Capt. Hall Bohlinger) and Arti Davenport whipped a 40.6 pound dolphin, which won $51,540, while Dennis Pasentine, Capt. Robbie Doggett and the Relentless Pursuit team pulled a 40.5-pound bull off a weed line to earn $127,015 with optional entries.

No monster wahoo came to the scales, but the top three fish still were nice money-makers. Captain/angler Kirk Ogren whipped the biggest at 55.8 pounds for $25,600 aboard Pair-A-Dice. Capt. Dusty Parrish, angler Chris Patroni and the Ultimate Lure crew earned second place honors and $23,550 for a 49.4-pound fish. Sage Mount, Capt. Dylan Gandy and the buddy team fishing on Dream’s Wake IV, a Yellowfin 36-foot center console, landed the third biggest ‘hoo at 42.9 pounds, for a $10,240 consolation prize.

ChampagneShower 300x200 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Sets Single Team Payout Record

totals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo credits: www.maximpactphotos.com

In the unofficial “It Pays to Play” category, Squid Row took home a check for $84,285 for a 24.9-pound wahoo in a perfect example of why entering optional jackpot divisions can be so lucrative.

Jackson Moore, fishing on BuggyWasher, was named the top Junior Angler—Billfish by releasing a blue marlin. Logan “Mule” Reeder earned top Junior Angler—Game Fish honors by whipping three dolphin weighing 86.1 pounds. Reeder was competing on Cotton Patch, another previous ECBC tournament champion.

“The week started out crazy thanks to the weather,” said Tournament Director Adam Alfonso. “But it all worked out and another successful ECBC is in the books. Congratulations to the It Just Takes Time team and all the other winners. I’d like to express my gratitude to the entire fleet for participating and our wonderful sponsors for their incredible support. My fantastic staff and I look forward to welcoming everyone back next June for our 18th season of exciting big-game tournament action here at the Emerald Coast.”

Tournament host, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and Presenting Sponsor Wind Creek Casino & Hotel-Atmore were joined this year by Tourism Partner Visit South Walton and Tournament Partners Mojo Sportswear and Gulf Coast Yacht Group. Galati Yacht Sales returned as the Founding Sponsor while Sportfish Outfitters came aboard for the first time as the Concierge Provider. Ten Emerald, 14 Platinum, 11 Gold and 32 Silver sponsors rounded out the many businesses and services that make the ECBC possible. Sponsor display booths were located at the Baytowne Marina during the weigh-ins.

About Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort:

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a major destination for all seasons and all ages and was named the #1 Resort on Florida’s Emerald Coast. The resort invites guests to a world of 2,400 acres and 30 charming neighborhoods featuring 1,300 vacation rentals, condominiums, villas, town homes and the best in hotel accommodations. As a member of Visit South Walton and Visit Florida, the resort features more than seven miles of beaches and pristine bayfront, four championship golf courses, 15 world-class tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a 123-slip marina, a fitness center and spa, meeting space and The Village of Baytowne Wharf, a charming pedestrian village with events, shopping, dining and nightlife. Follow @Sandestin on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest events and news.

Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Poised for New Records

May 1st, 2019

ECBC logo 300x118 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Poised for New Records
ECBCStart 300x169 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Poised for New Records

Photo credit: Capt. Dave Lear

With just over a month until the kick-off of the 17th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, boat registrations for this world-class fishing event are on pace to eclipse previous highs. The final field is expected to top 100 teams and if that does happen, a new $2.5 million dollar-plus benchmark in cash prizes would be established. The ECBC is hosted by the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and presented by Wind Creek Casino & Hotel-Atmore, AL. The tournament runs June 19-23, 2019.

“At the current pace of registrations, I’m confident we’ll exceed our 100-boat goal,” says Tournament Director Adam Alfonso. “And when we do, we’re likely to exceed last year’s overall record purse of $2 million as well. We have another great group of sponsors to help us celebrate 17 years and lots of activities to make the entire week a memorable one.” The Early Bird deadline for registering for the tournament is May 31.

The 2019 tournament will again make a strong statement for marine conservation. In the Gulf of Mexico the federal minimum length for boating a blue marlin is 99 inches. For ECBC anglers blue marlin must be at least 110 inches long to qualify in the weight division. That minimum is measured from the tip of the fish’s lower jaw to the fork of the tail. This increase in length will ensure the release of marginal marlin and result in only true trophies coming to the scales at Baytowne Marina.

“Raising the minimum length requirement was an easy decision,” Alfonso says. “The ECBC has been committed to conservation since the beginning and this new rule will ensure these magnificent fish are here for future generations. As a result, fewer fish will be sacrificed and those that are boated will truly reflect the caliber and skills of our contestants.” Can’t Deny It, the 2018 ECBC champion, took top honors with a blue marlin that was 118.5 inches and weighed 699.2 pounds.

In addition to the blue marlin weight division, smaller blues, white marlin, sailfish and spearfish that are successfully released earn points in the competitive release division. Releases are verified by video footage. Yellowfin, bigeye and blackfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin are scored one point per pound. The ECBC attracts multi-million dollar sport-fishing boats from across the Gulf of Mexico as well as the southeastern United States. Fishing begins after Thursday’s noon blast-off from the Destin Pass and concludes Saturday afternoon. Eligible fish are weighed Friday and Saturday evenings. Viewing is free and open to the public.

Even though the weigh-ins are popular crowd-pleasers, the festivities begin long before the boats leave the dock. Hancock Whitney Bank is sponsoring the ECBC Golf Scramble, which is open to participants and sponsors. Tee-time is 9 a.m. at The Links Golf Club on Wednesday, June 19.

Junior anglers get in on the fun on Friday, June 21, with the Kid’s Catch & Release Fishing Tournament. Prizes will be awarded to the winners who catch and release the longest fish from the resort’s many stocked ponds. Participants need to check in at the Baytowne Marina weigh scales by 10 am.

Tournament host, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and Presenting Sponsor Wind Creek Casino & Hotel-Atmore are joined this year by Tourism Partner Visit South Walton and Tournament Partners Mojo Sportswear and  Gulf Coast Yacht Group. Galati Yacht Sales returns as the Founding Sponsor while Sportfish Outfitters comes aboard for the first time as the Concierge Provider. Ten Emerald, 14 Platinum, 11 Gold and 32 Silver sponsors round out the many businesses and services that make the ECBC possible. Sponsor display booths will be located at Baytowne Marina.

The 2019 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic runs June 19-23 at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. For registration, dockage, rules and schedule of events, visit www.fishecbc.com. Reservations for golf carts need to be made directly through the Baytowne Marina office. Book now to get the best location and rates for the event weekend. Call 800-320-8115 or book online at sandestin.com. Use GROUP Code FISH19.

About Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a major destination for all seasons and all ages, and was named the #1 Resort on Florida’s Emerald Coast. The resort invites guests to a world of 2,400 acres and 30 charming neighborhoods featuring 1,300 vacation rentals, condominiums, villas, town homes and the best in hotel accommodations. As a member of Visit South Walton and Visit Florida, the resort features more than seven miles of beaches and pristine bay front, four championship golf courses, 15 world-class tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a 120-slip marina, a fitness center and spa, meeting space and The Village of Baytowne Wharf, a charming pedestrian village with events, shopping, dining and nightlife. People are invited to download Sandestin’s APP for iPhone and Android devices, or become a Facebook Fan or Twitter follower for the latest events and news.