Even in the prolific Gulf of Mexico, fishing often takes time and patience to get the right bite. So it was certainly appropriate that a new boat named It Just Takes Time was the first to the scales with a qualifying blue marlin. Owner/angler Nick Pratt, Capt. Chris Hood and the team aboard the 62 Viking made the most of their early morning opportunity to boat the fish, which registered 574 pounds.

“It was pretty rough out there,” says Capt. Hood. “We were 300 miles away in the Green Canyon and it was tough to make bait. We finally saw some on top and caught a blackfin tuna and put it out. It was a cool bite. I watched the fish from the bridge as it came completely bill to tail out of the water to inhale that bait. It did the usual marlin thing afterwards, tail-walking, long runs which came real close a couple times to the Tahiti rig. But we finally got it in after about 1.5 hours. Everyone was awesome and worked their asses off.”

The early ECBC leader was the first marlin caught aboard the boat, which Pratt has only owned for a couple of months. It was also just the second marlin the contractor from Theodore, Alabama, has boated. This one was definitely the biggest.

“I was the designated angler and when I started fighting it I thought I just need to try and land this thing,” Pratt recalled at the weigh scales. “It was a long day yesterday. I was using 80-pound tackle with 200-pound leader. Once we got it in we checked the length (114 inches measured from the lower jaw to the fork of the tail) so we knew it was good. The seas started laying down afterwards and it was nice on the run back in.

“We’re gonna go back out. Not where we got that one, but we’re gonna try to get one more.” This is only the second time Pratt has fished the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. The team has invested heavily in the optional marlin categories, so they will be keeping close eyes on the leaderboard.

The remaining 79 boats opted to stay offshore. Fishing continues through Sunday, but all must return by 4 p.m. In addition to eligible weighed blue marlin, smaller blues, white marlin, sailfish and spearfish count in the competitive release division. Several teams have already called in released billfish, including Breathe Easy, Fleur de Lis and Pullin Wire. Releases still must be verified by video confirmation back at the dock.

The scales open at 2 pm on Sunday and close at 8 pm, although once in line all fish will be weighed. Tuna, dolphin and wahoo are also eligible and generally one-third of the fleet brings fish to the scales. Those numbers may rise this year with no other fish on the board.

The festivities are held at the Baytowne Marina in Sandestin and are open to the public. Sponsors have display booths and there will be lots of swag given out to the crowd. Food and beverages are also available.

Sometimes it just takes time to catch a winning blue marlin. But for the contestants fishing the 2019 ECBC, time is getting short.