High Cotton, a 92 Viking based in Katy, Texas, won the biggest payout in the 2021 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. The team, led by owner Pete Bell, Captain Allan Legge and angler Cliff Mountain, pocketed $394,436 to sweep the top marlin and marlin jackpot categories. High Cotton boated the largest fish of the week, a blue that tipped the scales at 681 pounds. The overall cash prizes in this year’s contest totaled $1.975 million, the second-largest purse in the tournament’s 19-year history.

Owner/angler Josh Tice, local captain Jason Hallmark and the team aboard Devotion, a 61 Viking based in Orange Beach, isn’t going home empty-handed, either. Their 471.2-pound blue marlin captured second place, plus several jackpots, good for $191,873.

The Destin-based Briar Patch (68 Viking owned by Dennis Adams) also earned a very nice check after scoring the third-largest blue marlin. Angler Jarret Johnson quickly whipped the 411.7-pounder to take third place in the tournament awards and jackpots. Briar Patch’s winnings totaled $108,805.

The marlin bite wasn’t exactly on fire this week, but several teams took advantage of their opportunities to rack up impressive release wins. Breathe Easy, with owner Matt McDonald and Capt. Patrick Ivie at the helm, scored four blues to earn top honors and a check for $244,690 after catching and releasing four blue marlin. Breathe Easy is based in Orange Beach, with Chris Brundage, Corey Hurst and Ryan Fields the mates for the top-named crew.

Breathe Reel Deep, a 52 Ocean hailing from Orange Beach owned and run by Capt. Shawn Clemons, was named the second place release team. The boat released four blues and earned $33,405.

Wynsong, a 66 Viking from Destin, was the third-place release team with 1,500 points based on t