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.

Viking Unveils Valhalla Line of Center Consoles

November 1st, 2019

v37what Viking Unveils Valhalla Line of Center Consoles

The V-37 shines as a versatile coastal or offshore fish-raising thoroughbred with the legs to run long distances powered by either twin or triple outboards.

From the brilliant and innovative minds and builders of Viking Yachts, the new and exhilarating Viking Valhalla is here

This sleek new Viking is what center console boating dreams are made of, offering a high-end spin on your average center console.

The well renowned Viking Yachts builder has created a Valhalla V-33, V-37 AND V-41 that sets evolutionary standards in performance, engineering, quality and fishing capabilities. While strong in functionality and durability, the Valhalla does not withhold gorgeous craftsmanship and design.

Some of the impeccable features of the new Valhalla line include gently-sloped S-shaped sheers, double forward chines, helm pods, raised toe rails and abundant seating throughout. On deck, a raised transom live well, in-deck fish boxes, rod holders, a port dive door and storage space galore, just to name a few of the key features of this new center console.

The new Valhalla line certainly does not lack in power, with four-stroke outboards firing these impressive vessels from 300 to 425 in twin, triple or quad engines depending on length. A standard for the Valhalla line is power-assist hydraulic steering, and joystick helm control systems, are of course, an option for any of the models. Stepped hulls, as well as the direct-fuel-injected engines allow for exceptional fuel economy and range.

Bring all of the fishing equipment you need and more for offshore trips and coastline trips alike. This center console allows for plenty of storage of all of the trimmings needed for fishing and hosts top-notch fishing equipment for your days on the water.

This remarkable new creation from the Viking family is sure to impress, with all of your fishing, travel, durability and power needs, the Valhalla is unique in its class. For a more in depth look at the new Viking Valhalla line please contact our Galveston or Clear Lake offices at 409-741-8716.

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.

Builder’s Choice Repeats as Winner in 3rd Annual Marina Casa de Campo Open

March 2nd, 2019

2019 MCDC Builders Choice OYFD2959 1024x683 Builder’s Choice Repeats as Winner in 3rd Annual Marina Casa de Campo Open

The warm tropical hospitality of the Dominican Republic really seems to suit one North Carolina sportfisher. Builder’s Choice, a 64 Jarrett Bay based in New Bern, took top honors at the third annual Marina Casa de Campo Open last week at the luxurious resort in La Romana, DR. This marks the second year in a row that the boat has finished atop the Open leaderboard, which is co-sponsored by the marina and Fly Zone Fishing.

Led by Capt. Brent Gaskill, Builder’s Choice released five blue marlin the first day of fishing and added two more the next. Cabana, a 64 Spencer run by Capt. Eddie Wheeler, claimed second place with a two/one split of blues. Auspicious, an 80 Viking with Capt. Cookie Murray at the helm, made a last-day charge by releasing three blue marlin within a 45-minute span. Ties are broken by the time of release.

Blue marlin count for 400 points in the Open’s all-release format. White and hatchet marlin, plus spearfish, score 100 points while sailfish are worth 50. There are no line class rules in this event, but boats are limited to six rods. Lures and baits are both allowed, with ballyhoo the most common offering in the spreads.

2019 MCDC Awards Builders Choice OYFD3488 1024x683 Builder’s Choice Repeats as Winner in 3rd Annual Marina Casa de Campo Open

“This is a full-fledged boat tourney,” explains Tournament Director Robert “Fly” Navarro. “The teams just go out, have fun and catch fish. We’ve gotten positive feedback on the simplicity of our rules.

“We co-host with Marina Casa de Campo to showcase the facility and celebrate these visiting boats spending time in the region,” he adds. “It’s a world-class resort and the fishing isn’t too bad, either. The marina and Casa de Campo take care of the hospitality aspects and event details while we run the tournament. We had live updates on social media throughout the tournament.”

Lainey Jones, competing aboard Mama Who, a 77 Jarrett Bay, was named the top lady angler for 2019. Jones tallied 800 points for two blue marlin released.

The dates for next year’s Marina Casa de Campo Open are set for March 14-16, 2020. For more information on registration and dockage, please visit flyzonefishing.com

Contact: Robert “Fly” Navarro, 561-310-9214; fly@flyzonefishing.com

Galati Yacht Sales: A Name You Can Trust

February 28th, 2018

galati houston Galati Yacht Sales: A Name You Can Trust

Galati Yacht Sales Texas Manager Jay Dee Jackson continues a family-owned tradition of excellence

annamaria Galati Yacht Sales: A Name You Can Trust

Galati’s first location at Anna Maria opened in 1970.

Galati Yacht Sales, a once storm ravaged Florida marina, is now a No. 1 dealership with locations in the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica. The company’s humble beginnings start with Jay Dee Jackson’s grandfather, Michael Galati Sr. in 1970.  He moved his family of seven from New York down to Anna Maria Island, Florida.

“He felt drawn to Anna Maria, as this is the name of my grandmother. He saw this as a sign and decided to purchase a marina there that had just been devastated by a storm,” said Jay Dee. “From there, he and his wife, Anna Maria, and their five children worked to rebuild the marina and grew the company to what is now Galati Yacht Sales.”

Galati now has ten locations in three countries and carries some of the world’s finest yachts, including Maritimo, Viking, Prestige, Princess and Cruisers Yachts. They offer new, pre-owned and brokerage yacht sales with the ability to accept trade-ins on new or pre-owned purchases. Their Texas location is just off 45 south on Offatt’s Bayou in Galveston.

Join the Family

Galati Yacht Sales differentiates itself from the competition with a business philosophy that this family-owned company has lived by since inception. The third generation now leads the company and the principle remains the same; a passion and love for the industry in everything they do.

Their mission statement “Consistently Exceeding The Expectations Of Our Customers,” means clients are treated like family. Michael Galati Sr. was known to say that “Our customers are always there for us, so in turn, we will always be there for our customers. We must stick together as a family, work hard and earn our customers business.”

This work ethic has not gone unnoticed. Galati has been recognized in the boating industry in more ways than one. They recently earned No.1 dealer in Boating Industry’s Top 100 Dealers Award. They have won multiple times since 2007 and have now been entered into the Boating Industry Hall of Fame.

Every Step of the Way

Galati is there for its customers and can assist for every step of a yacht purchase — an exciting process than can be a little stressful for some. Years of experience and in-house financing makes for a one-stop yacht shop. Whether you are a new boater, or an old salt, Team Galati strives to make your experience one to remember and enjoy for years.

The relationship with the Galati family does not end after your new vessel is purchased, that is just the beginning. They are always available to customers for anything they need along their boating journey. From hosting boating trips to our endless service technician support, they are happy to put in the work to help you have a more enjoyable experience on the water. For whatever your needs may be, Galati is a name you can trust.

A Team Like No Other

“Apart from our family, we have been extremely fortunate to build an incredible team over the years. Our Galveston location staff members and brokers are there to support our customers in every aspect and have led us to only build upon the values that we laid our foundation on,” said Jay Dee Jackson.

Jay Dee is the manager of the Galati Yacht Sales Texas location. “My wife, Alyssa and I moved to the area recently from Sarasota, Florida and I am a graduate of The University of Mississippi with a degree in Business Management,” said Jackson.

Larry Smith joined Team Galati 13 years ago and boasts 46 years of experience in the marine industry. “It is a pleasure being associated with a company that puts customer service at the top of their priorities!” said Smith.

David Hunt is a native of Seabrook and continues his life-long love of the water and a passion for boats. He is a third generation member of Lakewood Yacht Club and a past president of the Gulf Coast Yacht Brokers Association. “I pride myself on my honesty, attention to detail, and desire to always act in my client’s best interest. Our marketing can make sure that your yacht is exposed to buyers throughout the world,” said Hunt.

Cory Webster is a native Texan and has spent the past 17 years developing his expertise in the boating business. Over the years, Cory has been fortunate to represent some of the best boating and yachting brands. “Working side by side with the best of the best in manufacturing, dealers and salespeople in this industry gets me excited. Seeing their values, passion and innovation keeps our business going strong!” said Webster.

Jordan Butler was born and raised in Galveston. The son of a well-respected captain, he was exposed to both the sportfishing and boating scenes at an early age. “Boating and fishing has always been a huge part of my life. I will always have a lifelong passion for going offshore and being on the water,” said Butler.

Randy Bright is a native Texan and has held every position in the competitive marlin fishing world as an owner, captain, angler and cockpit/wire man. “I stay very involved with many of my clients through the Houston Big Game Fishing Club events and several Gulf Coast and international fishing tournaments. I enjoy the friendships that I develop before and after the sale and spend time fishing, boating and traveling with clients particularly to the Bahamas and Costa Rica,” said Bright.

Galati is a certified dealer for Viking Yacht Sales.

Start Your Adventure Now

The boating season is just around the corner. Get in touch with Galati and they’ll get you on course to owning the boat or yacht of your dreams. Visit them in person at 7819 Broadway St., Suite #100 Galveston, Texas 77554. Call them at (409) 741-8716 or view inventory online at galatiyachts.com. Find them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @galatiyachtsales