It was a record that stood for 24 years before lightning struck not once but twice during the Blue Marlin Grand Championship of the Gulf tournament, held July 9-14, 2013 out of The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama.
According to tournament coordinator Scott Burt, the Friday weigh-in was not expected to be a busy one. Most of the excitement happens on Saturday night so we had a bunch of entertainment lined up for the crowds in case it was slow, he said. But that afternoon, Burt’s cell phone started blowing up with calls and text messages from teams fighting big marlin. As the weigh-in got underway several boats weighed in nice blue marlin including a respectable fish for the Done Deal team. Then Burt caught a glimpse of the marlin aboard the Rising Sons and thought it could be a contender for the record.
Capt. Richard Creed was hired as a freelance mate and gaff-man for the tournament by owner Toby Berthelot, who ran the 58-foot Viking during the event. Angler Jeremy Powers bested the big marlin, which ate a purple/silver/black Wide Range, after about two hours. Back at the scales the fish went 789.8 pounds, more than enough to break the existing Alabama state record and set off a chain reaction of partying up and down the docks. We never even considered the record, Creed said. We were just happy that we had a very nice marlin on the scales and that we were in the lead for the tournament.
Then the Reel Fire came to the scales with a fish that was clearly even larger. After a marathon seven hour battle, boat owner and angler Chris Ferrara finally bested the oversized blue marlin with the help of Capt. Mike Roberto at the helm; when finally hoisted up at The Wharf, the crowd gasped in amazement and then cheered as the weight was announced: an incredible 845.8 pounds. It was enough to earn the team over $304,000 in prize money, which included cash for the event’s second-largest yellowfin tuna. And although they fell to second place overall in the marlin division, the Rising Sons still managed to pocket over $123,000 for their efforts.