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Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic Creates Special Lure Incentive

April 9th, 2019

91043FF9 6DE3 4E35 AFC1 981007A3F881 263x300 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic Creates Special Lure Incentive

Photo courtesy of www.MGCBC.com

With 105 boats already pre-registered for the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and many more expected before the June 3 kick-off, the stakes will again be high for this popular sport-fishing event. More than $2 million in prize money was awarded in 2017 and 2018. Yet tournament organizers are sweetening the pot just a little more this year.

“We’re adding a special $25,000 incentive that will be paid if the winning fish is caught on a lure,” says Tournament Director Bobby Carter. “It has to be strictly a lure with no meat or bait attached. Dozens of genuine trophy blue marlin have been caught on plastics in the Gulf over the years, so including this special payout adds an interesting wrinkle to this year’s event.”

The Classic was the first tournament in the Gulf to increase the minimum length requirement to boat a blue marlin to 110 inches. Fish are measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. Smaller billfish can still be caught and released as part of the competition. Teams can also enter optional release division categories for a chance at six-figure prize payouts. Qualifying catches are verified by video confirmation.

“We are continuing to work with the other Gulf tournaments to standardize the catch and release rules,” explains Tournament Coordinator Bert Merritt. “That aspect is a major component as we all move forward, especially with the levels of prize money involved. Our catch data bears this out. In today’s climate, raising the length to 110 inches to boat a qualifying blue makes sense.”

In addition to the blue marlin weight category and the release division (smaller blues, white marlin and sailfish/spearfish), teams can also weigh yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin. The swordfish category has been retired after the new Mississippi state record was set in 2017.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic is hosted by the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel in Biloxi. Besides world-class gaming, the area offers beaches, golf, shopping and fine dining for family members who choose to stay ashore.

The 2019 MGCBC will be held June 3-9 at the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel/Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, Mississippi. To enter or learn more about the rules and tournament history, please visit www.mgcbc.com or through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

Contact: Bobby Carter, 228-239-2575; bobby@mgcbc.com

The 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Comes to an End

April 9th, 2019

lstcsail The 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Comes to an End

©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor

The number of billfish released in Leg 3, brings the three-leg combined total to 3,945 billfish overall

Los Sueños Resort and Marina, located at Playa Herradura on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, held the third and final leg of its sixth annual Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown billfish series, presented by Chantilly Air, March 27-30, 2019. Forty seven of the best and most competitive teams came together to release a total of 1,234 billfish over three days.

Going in to this event, the reports were that fishing was slow with 3-6 fish a day being average. But the teams found the fish and the radio went off with an early bite on Day 1 and ended with a nail-bite inducing finish on Day 3. With 100 points awarded for each sailfish release and 500 points for each marlin release, marlin always end up making a difference for the podium finishers. After all the scorecards were reviewed, a three-leg Triple Crown total of 3,945 billfish were released (3,820 sails and 125 marlin) – or 444,500 points achieved by the 51 teams that participated this year, 38 of which were registered in all three events.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 1

It was Tarheel to call in the first fish of the tournament just eight minutes after lines in, followed in the same minute by a triple sailfish release by Shoe. By 8:37 am four marlin had been released, with another two released in the following hour. In the same amount of time nine doubles were called in a three triples. Needless to say, fishing started off promising. By 10 am a total of 117 billfish had been released (111 sails, 6 marlin) and Fish Tank was in top position, followed by Sea Angel in second, and Tarheel in third. At the end of the day though, Uno Mas had taken first with 2,100 points (16 sails, 1 marlin), Sea Angel remained in second with 1,900 points (9 sails, 2 marlin), and Blue Eagle finished third on time with 1,700 points (17 sails), over Scandalous and Dragin Fly. The fleet achieved 373 billfish releases on Day 1, including 361 sails and 12 marlin.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 2

Just four minutes after lines in, it was Pez Collector to report the first sailfish release of the day to Tournament Control. Funny enough, they also released the last fish of Day 1 at 4:02 pm on Thursday! At precisely 11:24 am Fish Tank released a marlin, starting a flurry of marlin releases with 5 in under 12 minutes. Fish Tank was in top spot at noon with a two-day total of 3,200 points, followed by Hey Chama with 3,100 points, and Uno Mas in third with 3,100 points. In the end though, Uno Mas pushed their way back to top spot with 16 sails and 1 marlin on Day 2 alone for a two-day total of 4,200 points (32 sails, 2 marlin), followed by Hey Chama with 3,900 points (34 sails, 1 marlin), and Fish Tank finishing in third with 3,800 points (23 sails, 3 marlin) on time, over Sea Angel. A total of 531 billfish were released on Day 2 alone (517 sails, 14 marlin) for a two-day total of 904 billfish (878 sails, 26 marlin).

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 3

The first hour of Day 3 was an explosion of marlin hook ups and releases, with the first call of the day a marlin hook up by Reel Pushy at 8:05 am, which was released only five minutes later. By 8:40 am, a total of 8 marlin had been released, including a double header striped marlin by Numero Uno, who went on to win the day with an impressive 2,100 points after releasing 6 sails and 3 marlin. By 2 pm the fleet went on to release 212 billfish, with Hey Chama then in first with 3,400 points, followed by Blue Eagle with 3,400 points, and Fish Tank also with 3,400 points. Off Duty finished the day off nicely with a triple sailfish release at 4:04 pm, bringing the total billfish releases for the day to 330 (318 sails, 12 marlin) and the three-day combined total to 1,234 (1,196 sails, 38 marlin). Uno Mas finished first for the tournament with 5,000 points (40 sails, 2 marlin), followed by Big Oh in second on time with 4,900 points (39 sails, 2 marlin), and Hey Chama in third with 4,900 points (44 sails, 1 marlin).

CASH PRIZES & AWARDS

Nearly 700 guests came together under the stars at the Los Sueños Beach Club to enjoy a phenomenal buffet dinner and live music by Acustica Lounge’s Coco Hits. Immediately preceding the presentation of trophies, prizes and checks to the tournament winners, guests enjoyed the highly anticipated dock show filmed and produced by Rich Christensen and Michael Butler. The ceremony was closed out by a spectacular fireworks display by La Trinidad. Tournament winners took to the stage to receive a total of $240,000 in cash prizes, as well as other awards provided by tournament sponsors, including custom trophies by Gray Taxidermy, apparel by Tunaskin, framed prints of this year’s tournament art by Steve Goione, YETI coolers and tumblers, Huck buckets, Costa Del Mar, and Flor de Caña aged rum.

unomas The 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Comes to an End

1st Place: UNO MAS

5,000 points, 40 sails and 2 marlin

Uno Mas is a 60’ Bayliss captained by owner Brooks Smith, with anglers Sam Peters, Matt Traber, Justin DeBoom, Terry Robinson, and Jeremy Agüero. Uno Mas came in sixth in Leg 1 this year and eighth in Leg 2. They previously took first in Leg 2 in 2018, as well as second in Leg 3 in 2015, where Brooks was crowned Top Angler.

2nd Place: BIG OH

4,900 points, 39 sails and 2 marlin

This is Big Oh’s first win since 2015 when they fished on Trophy Box and took third both in Legs 1 and 2. Big Oh is a 63’ Scarborough captained by Ronnie Fields, with anglers Gray Ingram (owner), Jimmy Fields, Anthony Rizzo, Rodney Ingram, and Bo Ingram. Big Oh previously won several of the Signature Billfish Series and Marlin Invitational tournaments, which were run by Los Sueños prior to the formation of the Triple Crown.

3rd Place: HEY CHAMA

4,900 points, 44 sails and 1 marlin

Hey Chama, a 65’ Bayliss captained by Irving Irausquin, with anglers Leonard Chapman, Manoel de Silva, and Marlon Prendas, comes to us from Curacao. They fished the Triple Crown for the first time in Leg 2 of the 2018 series. These young up and comers finished 39th in Leg 1 and 44th in Leg 2, and gave a tremendous show in Leg 3 for a podium finish.

Series Champion: FISH TANK

17,400 points, 144 sails and 6 marlin

Fish Tank, a 63’ Hatteras captained by Ben Horning, with owners/anglers Chris and Laura Jessen, and their fellow anglers Kitt Toomey, Mike Ivancevic, Darren Helwig, and Joe West. Despite not making the podium for Leg 3, Fish Tank was the clear and undisputed Series Champion of the 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown, finishing with an almost unbelievable 17,400 points (144 sails, 6 marlin), 3,500 points ahead of the closest runner up, Sea Angel (on time ahead of Uno Mas with the same 13,900 points). Going in to Leg 3 Fish Tank already had a 2,900-point lead, and the 31 sails and 3 marlin they released in Leg 3 alone sealed their fate. Kudos to Laura Jessen who, despite a broken foot, released 6 sails this tournament alone and 34 sails over all three legs!

ABOUT THE LOS SUENOS SIGNATURE TRIPLE CROWN

2019 marks the 6th Annual Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown billfish tournament series. The Triple Crown consists of three annual tournaments, in January, February and March each year, and is fished out of the world class Los Sueños Resort and Marina in Costa Rica. Mark your calendars for the 2020 Triple Crown! Leg 1: January 15-18, Leg 2: February 26-29, Leg 3: March 25-28.

ABOUT LOS SUEÑOS RESORT AND MARINA

Los Sueños Resort and Marina is the premier luxury real estate resort in Costa Rica. Nestled on the Central Pacific Coast, Los Sueños is an 1,100-acre oasis offering incredible ocean, rainforest and golf course view properties; a gorgeous waterfront Marina Village commercial area with restaurants, shops and lively entertainment; a large private beach club for residents; an 18-hole championship golf course; a superb 201-room Marriott Hotel; and much more, all within close proximity to world record-setting sport fishing waters. Information on Los Sueños Resort and Marina is available online at www.lossuenos.com. Information on Los Sueños real estate properties is available online at www.lossuenosrealestate.com. For further information, please contact Ashley Bretecher, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, Los Sueños Resort and Marina, Toll-free: 1-866-865-9759, Direct Tel: 011-506- 2630-4005, or e-mail: a.bretecher@lossuenos.com.

2019 LOS SUEÑOS TOURNAMENTS BEGIN WITH THE LADIES

January 28th, 2019

 

costa rica sailfish 2019 LOS SUEÑOS TOURNAMENTS BEGIN WITH THE LADIES

©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor.

Los Sueños Resort and Marina, located at Playa Herradura on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, held the first leg of its sixth annual Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown billfish series, presented by Chantilly Air, January 16-19, 2019.

A total of 44 of the world’s most competitive billfishing teams comprised of 210 individual anglers challenged each other over three days of fishing, releasing a total of 648 billfish, including 582 sails and 66 marlin for a per boat average of 15 billfish releases.

fish tank los suenos 2019 LOS SUEÑOS TOURNAMENTS BEGIN WITH THE LADIES

Fish Tank, owned by Chris and Laura Jessen and captained by Ben Horning, took first place in both the Ladies Only Tournament and the Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown. ©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor.

LADIES ONLY ONE-DAY TOURNAMENT

Held on Tuesday, Jan. 15, the first annual Los Sueños Ladies Only Tournament, presented by Chantilly Air and sponsored by Maverick and Galati Yacht Sales, brought together 49 individual anglers participating on 17 boats. It seemed like a clear battle between Family and Friends and D.A. Sea who were tied both for points and on time just half an hour before lines out.

Fish Tank (anglers Laura Jessen and Michelle Keeney) surprised everyone though, calling in a marlin hook up which they went on to release at 4:04 p.m. for the win, having released 8 sails and 1 marlin for 1,300 points. D.A. Sea (anglers Valerie Dunn, Susan McCart, and Judy Duffie) ended up second with 1100 points with 6 sailfish and 1 marlin release, and Family and Friends (anglers Jackie Kopp, Kristin Feller, and Andrea White) rounded out the leaderboard in third with 1,000 points after releasing 10 sails.

Awards were presented the following day and the ladies took to the stage to receive their cash prizes and trophies, sponsored by Gray Taxidermy. A total of $27,500 was handed out, 50% going to first, 30% to second, and 20% to third. Individual angler points follow the ladies through the Triple Crown and will be tallied to their total scores from that event to determine the Top Female Angler Overall. So far, Jackie Kopp of Family and Friends is well in the lead with 700 points from the Ladies Only and 1,500 points from the first leg of the Triple Crown.

©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 1

It was Numero Uno who fittingly released fish “numero uno” of the tournament at 8:05 am on Day 1, Jan. 17. By 10 a.m., the competitive fleet of 44 teams and 210 anglers had released 89 billfish, including 84 sails and 5 marlin. Tarheel took an early lead with 800 points, over The King and I and Blue Eagle, each with 700 points. The King and I showed their stripes early with 1,800 points by noon, taking a 600 point lead over Tranquilo with 1,200 points and Outlaw with 1,100 points.

Over 40 fish were released in the next two hours, but the leaderboard changed very little. The King and I ended the day in first with 2,000 points, Wire We Here ended up releasing 6 sails and 2 marlin for 1,600 points and second place, and Blue Eagle released the same fish for the same points, just 13 minutes later to take third for the day.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 2

The King and I had a slow start to Day 2 with zero releases by 10 a.m., but managed to hold on to their first place spot. Wire We Here released four sails in the same period to tie The King and I with 2,000 points, just one sailfish release and 100 points ahead of Reel Pushy. By noon the fleet had released a two-day total of 380 billfish and Fish Tank had pushed The King and I down to third on time after Wire We Here, both with 2,100 points, and taking top spot with 2,300 points. Family and Friends were keeping their name in front of spectators, taking top spot with 2,600 points by 2 p.m., followed by Fish Tank with 2,400 points and Reel Pushy in third with 2,300 points. By the end of the day Family and Friends had earned enough points after releasing 7 sails and 2 marlin for a two-day total of 2,600 points, to keep their first place position. Reel Pushy released 7 sails and 2 marlin on Day 2 for a two-day total of 2,500 points, and Fish Tank rounded out the top three with 2,400 points after releasing 9 sails on Day 2. The top nine teams were all within one marlin and one sail of the lead going in to Day 3.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 3

Day 3 followed the same trend as the first two days with a good morning bite. By 10 a.m. the fleet had released 61 billfish for a three-day total of 522 billfish (469 sails and 53 marlin). The King and I were vying for the leaderboard and had amassed 3,300 points to take first over Reel Pushy in second with 3,100 points, and Tranquilo in third with 2,800 points. At noon it was still anyone’s game. Fish Tank was in first with 3,500 points. The King and I was in second, now with 3,400 points, and Reel Pushy in third with one more sailfish for 3,200 points. The 2 p.m. leaderboard would end up being a prediction of the Leg 1 finishers, showing Fish Tank in first with 4,200 points, The King and I in second with 3,400 points, and Reel Pushy in third with 3,300 points. Fish Tank went on to release four more sails, ending the day – and the tournament – with 4,600 points.

RESULTS

Los Sueños Ladies Only Tournament

1st Place: FISH TANK

Fish Tank, a 63’ Hatteras captained by Ben Horning, with anglers Laura Jessen and Michelle Keeney. Michelle was the top angler for this event, with 900 individual points after releasing 4 sails and 1 marlin.

2nd Place: D.A. SEA

D.A. Sea, a 60’ Viking captained by Climaco Rodriguez, with anglers Valerie Dunn, Susan McCart, and Judy Duffie.

3rd Place: FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Family and Friends, a 50’ Craig Blackwell captained by Joshua Porras, with anglers Jackie Kopp, Kristin Feller, and Andrea White

Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown

1st Place: FISH TANK

4,600 points, 31 sails and 3 marlin

Fish Tank, a 63’ Hatteras captained by Ben Horning, with owners/angler Chris and Laura Jessen, and their fellow anglers Kitt Toomey, Mike Ivancevic, and Darren Helwig. Fish Tank also took third place in Leg 1 of the 2016 Triple Crown and third place in Leg 3 2017. Laura Jessen is familiar with the stage, having also been the Top Female Angler in 2017.

TOP ANGLER

Chris Jessen of Fish Tank achieved the highest points out of all participating non-professional anglers after releasing 6 sailfish and 2 marlin for 1,600 points.

2nd Place: THE KING AND I

3,400 points, 9 sails and 5 marlin

The King and I, a 50’ Ocean Yacht, captained by Victor “Pia” Ceballos is from Guatemala and first started fishing the Triple Crown in 2018. Anglers Pablo Sechel, Sergio Alvarado, Juan Pablo Ramos, Juan Andres Morales and Charles Donato finished in second place in Leg 1.

3rd Place: REEL PUSHY

3,300 points, 18 sails and 3 marlin

Reel Pushy, a 58’ Monterey co-captained by Chris Workmon and Dave Dalfo also just started competing in the Triple Crown in 2018. This is their second year and angler/owner Robert Banker along with his fellow anglers Patrick Lanahan, Samantha Mumford, Tyler Wall, and Kevin O’Connor.

ABOUT LOS SUEÑOS RESORT AND MARINA

Los Sueños Resort and Marina is the premier luxury real estate resort in Costa Rica. Nestled on the Central Pacific Coast, Los Sueños is an 1,100-acre oasis offering incredible ocean, rainforest and golf course view properties; a gorgeous waterfront Marina Village commercial area with restaurants, shops and lively entertainment; a large private beach club for residents; an 18-hole championship golf course; a superb 201-room Marriott Hotel; and much more, all within close proximity to world record-setting sport fishing waters. Information on Los Sueños Resort and Marina is available online at www.lossuenos.com. Information on Los Sueños real estate properties is available online at www.lossuenosproperties.com. For more photos from Los Sueños tournaments, please click here

Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick

January 1st, 2019

musick tarpon Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick

Anastasia Musick with her tarpon painting “Eyes on the Prize.”

Interview by Kelly Groce

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start painting?

Originally I am from Kazakhstan but I have lived all over Europe and Asia (11 countries to be exact) before I was even 17!  Shortly after I came along, my family endured many hardships from the changing times, causing us to constantly move.

Like many young kids, I was fond of drawing, painting and anything artistic, but I tended to dedicate all of my time to this interest over anything else.  Certainly it was a good focus, as no matter where we lived or what the language, I had to start learning that particular year(s), I had consistency and stability in my artwork. I think was more beneficial to me than anything.

When I was around 11 years old, I was starting to paint and draw animals and floral art at a very rapid rate.  My mother would place the finished works in shops wherever we were living at the time.  By the time I was 15, I was being contacted for commissioned pieces of a very wide array of subjects, including freshwater fish, birds, and a lot of floral works.

How did you get into painting wildlife?

I have from the very beginning painted a host of subjects without boundary, but I would say that the time period I started focusing mostly on marine and wildlife was 2-3 years ago. My first saltwater piece was around that time as well.

musick swordfish Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick

“Dancing in the Moonlight”

Aside from art, what else are you passionate about?

Well to be completely honest, I don’t really have much time to do much else!  I paint 8-12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and when I am caught up I try to go fishing or enjoy my time on the water.  I take what I do incredibly seriously and try to give every ounce of energy I have to becoming better. After all, I have a lot of folks who have invested in me by owning originals.  I would be doing them a disservice if I did not increase their piece’s value over time.

I do love to fish but unless it’s a subject I am completely new to, it really does not make the artworks any better to continually see the same species—at least for me it doesn’t, but what does improve the paintings is pure repetition. This is the only requirement needed to have the knowledge or capability to paint or draw anything with success.

“Nine Lives”

What is your favorite fish to catch?

Redfish and Mahi.

Favorite location to fish or travel?

When time allows, I like to take either my paddle boat or kayak to a tiny little area in Charlotte Harbor that always is harboring at least a few hungry reds!  Within the last two years my vacationing has been sort of limited, but I have really enjoyed the various beaches I’ve visited in Texas and of course the boardwalk in San Antonio was a fun time.

Favorite fishing moment?

The very first redfish I caught had a little over 13 spots and I think that’s when I fell in love with fishing and wanted to dedicate that as my predominate focus.

“Ambush Queens”

How can our readers purchase and enjoy your art?

I have hundreds of pieces that I do reproductions of in small numbers, apparel and a host of other things available.  Easiest way to contact me is either to go to Facebook and search me out: Anastasia Musick. Also feel free to contact me on my business page: Musick Art Corporation. You can also find my website at www.AnastasiaMusick.com

Are there any foundations or organizations you are involved with that you would like to tell our readers about?

I work with CCA Texas, Florida and several kidney research foundations.  In 2019 I was selected to be the Texas CCA STAR Platinum Print Artist and would like to continue working with them and others.

“The Prospectors Bill”

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

Texas Billfish Classic returns to Freeport Aug. 1-4

July 1st, 2018

bmarlinjump Texas Billfish Classic returns to Freeport Aug. 1 4

Charity-minded tournament brings billfishing back to Freeport

By Brandon Rowan

tbclogo 150x150 Texas Billfish Classic returns to Freeport Aug. 1 4The Texas Billfish Classic celebrates its third year of bringing highly competitive billfishing back to Freeport. Over the past three years, the tourney has grown steadily and produces one of the most popular and enjoyable tournament formats on the Texas Gulf Coast.

History

The original tournament was formed in the 1980s by many of the bluewater pioneers who put Freeport on the map as a Blue Marlin hotspot in the 80s and 90s. During this time the Billfish Classic was a premier event with a rich history of record catches and great times.

In 2015, Tournament Director Jasen Gast resurrected the Texas Billfish Classic and added much more.

“One of the biggest success stories of the TBC is not the fishing, but what we are able to do on land,” Gast said. “Since 2015, the TBC has donated more than $25,000 to local and regional non-profit organizations.”

The tournament works closely with three charities – the Freedom Alliance, The Billfish Foundation and the Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run.

  • The Billfish Foundation operates worldwide to advance the conservation of billfish and associated species to improve the health of oceans and economies.
  • The Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run has delivered toys, clothing and Christmas meals via boat to thousands of needy children on the Texas coast since 2006.
  • The Freedom Alliance goes above and beyond to meet the needs of wounded warriors and their families. This includes rehab/recovery funds, customized wheelchairs, care packages to deployed troops and a scholarship fund for the children of fallen heroes.

A Patriotic Tournament

Jasen Gast has owned REHAB, a tournament winning 45’ Davis sportfisher, for five years now and has a history and passion for taking disabled children, veterans and others out on fishing trips. The opportunity to further help the needy came to Gast after meeting the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor while fishing in Costa Rica.

“I met Jasen during the Triple Crown in Los Sueños, Costa Rica. He wanted to bring a more patriotic aspect to his tournament,” Ailor said.

Since that meeting, the Texas Billfish Classic has already donated thousands to the charity and much more in the way of real life experiences and trips for our nation’s heroes.

“We are not a one and done charity,” said Pepper Ailor, who has worked with the Freedom Alliance over the past 13 years. “We stay in the lives of these heroes and bless the troops with genuine relationships.”

Each year the TBC invites a group of veterans down to Freeport to be involved in the week’s events and also embark on an offshore trip. With no cell phones or distractions, deeper connections are made during the inevitable lulls of a fishing trip and the shared exhilaration during the high excitement moments.

Veteran group after a solid day catching fish during a donated trip on Galveston Bay in 2017. Photo by Pepper Ailor.

Last year’s group of invited veterans enjoyed a great inshore fishing trip. Marine Sgt. Cory, Army Sgt. Bill, Cpl. Jeramie and Master Chief Kevin spent a day on Galveston Bay catching redfish, flounder and trout.

“He has so much fun on those trips! Jeramie’s wife Lindsey said. “He comes back with new friends and so many stories! Thank you for inviting him! He is keeping in contact with several people through text. He just had the best time!”

Great things continue to be born of the relationship between the Freedom Alliance and TBC. Dudley Wood, a tournament participant and owner of the 54’ Bertram Smoker II, even donated a hunting trip to a group of five veterans he met during the tournament last year.

Gulf Coast Mariner encourages our readers to donate and volunteer for the Freedom Alliance and other worthy veterans charities but Pepper Ailor wants to see something greater happen.

“Form a genuine relationship with a veteran.” Ailor said. “There is too big a gap between the lives of our defenders and the public sector. Our veterans need to do a better job opening up and civilians need to listen better.

Marty Griffith’s Over-Ride with the tournament record blue marlin at 410 pounds. Photo by Brandon Rowan.

People’s Choice

The TBC continues to be one of the fastest growing competitive billfish events in Texas. The high number of billfish catches in August along the Texas shelf also adds to a spirited weigh-in and awards banquet on Saturday night. Fishing the TBC is known to be hot by day and festive at night.

“He puts on the best as far as I’m concerned,” said Dudley Wood of Smoker II. “He lets us leave during daylight and that is huge. That’s why I quit some other tournaments that start you running out at night. The safety of my captain and crew is paramount.”

“It is a great tournament,” said Shawn Kurtz, owner of Hey Girl, the winning boat of the 2017 tourney. “Jasen has put together a pretty good program. It gets better and better each year.”

New for 2018 is the inclusion of the Billfish Classic Cup trophy. The winner of the BCC will be decided by the boat with the highest total release points from both the Texas Billfish Classic and Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, and in turn, take home a minimum of $10,000 cash.

This conservation minded tournament also encourages billfish release with the highest minimum in the state for harvesting Blue Marlin at 107 inches.

Don’t miss the hot fishing and festive nights this revived classic brings to Freeport. The general public is welcome and encouraged to attend the weigh-in on Friday and Saturday.

For information or to register for the Texas Billfish Classic visit them online at www.TexasBillfishClassic.com or contact TexasBillfishClassic@yahoo.com