Crews head out for first day of Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -The 88 boats competing in the 2021 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic are now in the Gulf of Mexico.
The teams loaded up and headed out at midday Thursday, leaving the Baytowne Marina in parade like fashion.
They made their way to the Destin pass, with the the south side of the pass working as the rally point, and at noon the signal was given to throttle up and get going.
Among the teams competing in this ECBC is the crew of “It Just Takes Time” out of Orange Beach. Angler, Nick Pratt, and the team won this event two years ago and are coming off the win two weeks ago at the tournament in Biloxi.
“I would say we’ve had some good luck here lately,” said Pratt. “But that might never happen again. We may go five years without something else happening, so we come back each tournament hoping to do our best, and we’ll see where the cards lay. The thrill is to go in there, you know, you’ve got the biggest fish to go in there and weigh in. It’s the biggest thrill ever. You know you’ve got to go out there and do your best this week and see what happens.”
Pratt know that to do it all again, he will have beat a very competitive field.
“There’s more competitive teams out here, and every year, there’s more and more, and it just gets to be a very competitive atmosphere. That’s what drives this whole thing and makes it very interesting is not really so much the money side, it being competitive.”
The same goes for the Captain of “Bandito,” Chad Solomon.
“The bites have been pretty good. We had a great trip in Biloxi and ended up winning first place in Catch and Release. “It Just Takes Time” caught a nice fish, an 800 pounder. We pulled off a nice one. Quite a few boats getting several bites a day and fishing should be good. I think the weather is getting better for this weekend, so maybe we can get a good showing.”
The teams will fish through the night and into Friday with the chance to begin weighing their fish at 4:00 Friday afternoon. The prize purse is $1.96 million.
“With the fishing we have here, people don’t realize how good the blue marlin fishing here in the Gulf is,” said Destin-based Captain, Joey Birbeck. “It’s still Florida, but we’re really close to Alabama and Mississippi. Walton County has put out some fads out front for fisherman to go 70 miles out, they can go catch blue marlin and big tuna right out front.”
Birbeck also added that these events are good for the economy.
“It keeps people coming here to fish on the charter boats. We have a great charter fleet here in Destin. It’s a great place to come, so come on to Walton County!”
Weigh-ins will start at Friday and run through Saturday night.
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