The laws of physics cannot be broken. Even though the sleek sportfishers competing in the 2018 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic are fast, many capable of 40 knots or better, they can’t fly. So when you’re more than 100 miles from Destin Pass and being tardy could mean losing out on a six-figure payout, you wait another day.
That was the situation Friday evening at the Baytowne Marina. With the fleet scattered across the central Gulf of Mexico and unable to make it back in before the 8 p.m. deadline, most opted to spend another night offshore. It will be a long, anxious night for two in particular.
Can’t Deny It, a 48 Viking from Ono Island, Alabama with Capt. Bo Keough at the controls, boated a blue marlin that measured 117 inches in the cockpit. Will Beard was the angler on that fish with Todd Terreson the mate. Under the new tournament rule, blue marlin must measure at least 107 inches from the lower jaw to the fork of the tail to be eligible. The fish was caught near a rig, but the boat was 130 miles out and unable to make it back by the deadline. It did arrive a couple hours afterwards and will be the first to weigh Saturday. Can’t Deny It was not entered in any of the optional blue marlin jackpot divisions, however, so the team would not maximize its winnings if that fish holds on to win.
Aldente, a 70 Viking owned by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, called Tournament Director Adam Alfonso to report boating another blue marlin. Capt. Brad Benton relayed it was a fat 109.5-inch fish and Lagasse was the angler. Aldente also had a very large yellowfin tuna on ice but were too far away to make it back in time. Benton plans to be in the weigh slip when the scales open Saturday. Aldente is entered in all marlin jackpots except the $10,000 level and also has a marlin release to its credit.
Several other boats have reported releasing billfish. Born2Run has three, Done Deal has two (plus another big tuna boated), while Melanie and LiBan have one apiece.
“That’s all we have on our report card as of now,” says Weigh Master Jack Teschel. “But most of the boats are out of communication range and dawn is always a prime feeding time. So I won’t be surprised to see a lot more on the leaderboard come Saturday night.”
The scales at the Baytowne Marina at the host Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort open at 4 p.m. Saturday. Boats must be under the Destin Pass Bridge by 6 p.m. The public is invited to watch the activities for free. Presenting Sponsor Wind Creek Casino and Hotel-Atmore has a gaming table and slot machines set up to win some nice prizes. The 73 other sponsors are showcasing their goods and services throughout the marina complex, too.
The clock is ticking. It’s going to be a long night. It’ll be an even longer day Saturday as the 16th annual ECBC draws to a close with more than $2 million in prize money on the line.