Gulf Coast Triple Crown, July 29, 2021—It wasn’t a ‘wire-to-wire win, but the team that led the Gulf Coast Triple Crown standings after week one ended up being in that same spot eight tournaments later. Team Devotion, a 61′ Viking from Orange Beach, took the lead after winning the Catch and Release division at the Louisiana Billfish Classic back in May and held off fierce competition to claim the 2021 championship.
This year’s chase for Gulf’s top honor featured four different lead changes over the nine sanctioned tournament series. After falling out of the top spot, Captain Jason Hallmark and mates Ben Arnold and
Tyler Matherne added to their point total with a second-place finish at the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic’s weighed Blue Marlin division. Their 472-pound fish put them back in contention at third
place with two tournaments remaining.
A few weeks later, a second-place finish at the Pensacola Big Game Fishing Club’s International Tournament vaulted them into first place heading into the series finale, the Blue Marlin Grand Championship. Ten teams all had a shot at winning the Gulf Coast Triple Crown, entering ‘The Greatest Show in Sportfishing’ at The Wharf in Orange Beach. But after the tournament, the standings didn’t change, and Hallmark joined an exclusive group of captains to become a Gulf Coast Triple Crown Champion. “To have my name alongside those other great captains who have won it in the past…some of the best captains and fishermen in the world…that’s an unbelievable honor for me and our team,” said the victorious captain.
Big game fishing is, of course, a team sport, and Hallmark credits team owner Josh Tice for allowing him to assemble the championship team on Devotion.
“Josh enabled me to put together an outstanding crew which is what gave us a chance to win. There is so much talent fishing on other teams in our part of the Gulf, if your crew isn’t great, you have no shot at winning,” said Hallmark. “My style is to always make our plan together as a team and get input from my guys. The Blue Marlin we caught at the ECBC was because Ben felt really strongly about where we should fish that weekend. I was thinking of going somewhere else, but we decided to go with Ben’s idea, and it ended up being the right choice which eventually led us to win the Triple Crown,” said Hallmark. “I know everyone says it’s a team effort, but with us, it really is, and I feel very, very fortunate to be a part of this team.”
2021 was the first year of fishing together for Tice and Hallmark, and the owner credits his captain not only for his fishing ability but also for who he brings on the boat. “That is one of Jason’s greatest
strengths, is to be able to put together an excellent crew. I think he’s the best captain in the Gulf, and a big part of that is the team he can assemble. That has always been a trademark of his, being able to
attract top talent to the boat he is running.”
Like many things on the northern Gulf Coast it was Sonny Middleton who came up with the original concept of a Billfish Championship Series. It took almost ten years to develop The Gulf Coast Triple
Crown into a championship series promoting offshore big game fishing and awarding an annual “best of the best” champion.
Each year the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship is presented by Grander Marine, Invincible Boats and Mercury Marine. Devotion now joins Done Deal (3), Relentless Pursuit (2), Patron, Sea Mixer, Breathe Easy, Mollie, and Pearl as a Gulf Coast Triple Crown Champion.