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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

Texas Billfishing Lures

July 1st, 2014

Four top captains talking about the Texas billfishing lures that are always in their spread and should be in yours, too.

texasbillfishing Texas Billfishing Lures

Moldcraft Wide Range

moldcraftwiderangeblkpurp Texas Billfishing Lures

Moldcraft Wide Range with black/purple skirt. (no. 26)

Capt. Darrell WeigeltCapt. Darrell Weigelt – PATRON

“My favorite lure for Texas billfishing is the Moldcraft Wide Range in black and purple. I can pull it anywhere in the spread and get good action from it in almost any condition. This lure catches a lot of big blue marlin. It is responsible for a massive 1,742-pound marlin, as well as the 80 pound line class world record blue of 1,189 pounds.”

Wide Ranges

Some of Capt. Deerman’s favorite Wide Range color combos.

Capt. Kevin DeermanCapt. Kevin Deerman – LEGACY

“On the Legacy, we have about 20 lures that I would consider our ‘A Team.’ These are the lures that have been productive for us on the Legacy and also on other boats that I have been on in years past. As far as picking a favorite, I would have to say the Moldcraft Wide Range would be my choice in any color combo. This one always finds a spot in our spread either as a lure with hooks, at the end of a daisy chain or by itself as a hookless teaser. Because it’s a soft lure we get more bites out of a fish and more opportunities at hookups.”

Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus

Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus

Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus 03/46 skirt combo at Melton International Tackle.

Capt. Troy Day

Capt. Troy Day

Owner Jasen Gast – REHAB

“My favorite lure for Texas billfishing is the Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus. It was designed by fishermen in Hawaii who catch more big blue marlin on lures than potentially any other place in the world. Run off the short or long rigger position, this lure is a proven billfish raiser for us. It creates a lot of noise in the water and pulls extremely well in a variety of weather conditions we see here in the Gulf of Mexico. Both the Ruckus and Baby Ruckus models are very aggressive and create quite the billfish attracting commotion.”

Makaira 19 - Chartreuse Paua Shell - Blue/Silver over Green/Chartreuse

Makaira 19 – Chartreuse Paua Shell – Blue/Silver over Green/Chartreuse

Brutus - Blue Paua Shell/Silver Mirror w/ Silver Eyes - Blue/Silver/Black Bars over Purple/Black

Makaira Brutus – Blue Paua Shell/Silver Mirror w/ Silver Eyes – Blue/Silver/Black Bars over Purple/Black

Capt. Brett HoldenCapt. Brett Holden – BOOBY TRAP

“Due to weather, we only have so many days to fish here in the Gulf. So if I’m chasing billfish I’m going to make it count. Makaira Pulling Lures, custom handmade lures by Justin Roper in Louisiana, are my first choice for trolling. Justin has 19 different lure heads, from slant to yap to chugger, in a variety of colors and weighted in couple different ways. My favorites are the 19, Brutus and Mars. I prefer to rig them with a single stiff or single semi-stiff hook. I’ll always the remember the first day I trolled a Makaira. We were in 400–500 feet of water and a big blue marlin inhaled the lure off the flat line right away. We ended up catching 12 wahoo and four big dolphin in an hour and a half after that first big blue. Since that day, I’ve made it a point to always have Makairas in my spread.”