It took Michelangelo five years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and three to sculpt the statue David. So angler Christian Fast lived up to his surname when it only took five hours to whip his blue marlin Friday morning. Fast was competing aboard A Work of Art, a 92 Viking owned by Art Favre and run by Capt. Jason Buck. The 116-inch fish weighed 638.7 pounds to capture first place in the 20th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. A Work of Art calls Orange Beach, Alabama its home port.
“We gaffed the fish two hours into the fight and it ripped free,” Buck explained. “Then we had to fight it another three hours.” The marlin ate a live bait south of Destin and the conditions were calm during the ordeal.
“That fish gave us a hell of a fight,” Fast told ECBC emcee Scott Rossman after the weight was announced to the overflow crowd at the Baytowne Marina. “It was an awesome crew. We all worked together as a team to get it in.”
Speaking of chapels, Benedetta pulled off a Hail Mary to capture second place in the marlin division. The team had been skunked for the first two days of the contest when they finally released a short blue marlin earlier on Saturday. Thirty minutes later, they hooked another on a Spanish mackerel bait and boated the fish in less than an hour on a 50 reel. Angler Kirk Aronson and the team had an 80-mile run back to Destin through a bad storm and made it under the deadline bridge at 5:57 with three minutes to spare. Benedetta’s blue tipped the scales at 547.9 pounds.
Raise ‘Em Up, with Nim Frazier in the chair, also endured a five-hour fight with a sunset hook-up on a purple and black lure. It was the first boated marlin for Frazier. The team went three for three on marlin bites.
“The entire fight was in the dark,” Frazier said. “I’m glad the sun was down.” That fish, 113 inches long, weighed 513.3 pounds.
Sea Wolff, which weighed Friday night, dropped to fourth place with a 503.7 blue marlin. Briar Patch (angler Mary Katherine Adams) and Up-To-It (angler Damien Bond) both weighed blues that were short of the 500-pound mark.
It looked like Kate Dorland and her team on Reel Fire had the tuna trophy in hand after weighing a 170.8-pound yellowfin caught on a live bait near the Globetrotter drill ship. It took the seasoned lady angler 40 minutes to whip her prize. But as one of the last boats to weigh Saturday night, Salt Shaker pulled out the win. Chris Hatcher from Miramar Beach needed an hour to whip his 192.4-pound tuna on a Shimano 130 soaking a little bonita near the Appomattox rig. Perra Mala scored the third heaviest tuna at 149.4 pounds.
Salt Shaker also bagged the largest wahoo for the week at 64.7 pounds. Change Order was second at 54.7 and Pop N Corks was third with a 53.4-pounder.
The dolphin leaderboard changed constantly throughout the night, but when it was over Soul Candy was on top with a 38.9-pound bull. Evil Eyes scored a 37.6 pound neon demon and Reel Wicked was just behind with a 36.1-pound entry.
Catch and release judges Craig Martin and Bert Merritt were checking video proof provided by the crews, but Quantified had an unsurmountable lead after putting on a light-tackle clinic.
The 2022 ECBC wraps up Sunday morning with an awards brunch hosted by the Wind Creek Casino and Hotel when $1.987 million in prize money will be distributed to the winners.