SANDESTIN, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The weigh-ins at the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic have been tipping the scales since they opened at four Saturday afternoon.
91 boats went out to compete for the over 2 million dollars in cash awards. Five blues were boated in the tournament, as they were at, or above, the 107 inch minimum length required for the tournament.
Two blues were caught Friday night but the boats decided to stay out and fish through the evening.
The biggest fish of the day was caught by 18 year-old Will Beard off of the boat "You Can't Deny It", his weighing in at 699.2 pounds and 118 and a half inches.
"Two days ago at about 4:45 we hopped on a rip and he ate and we were sitting there for 10 minutes and he ate. So we got into the fight and he stripped out about 800 yards of line and started jumping around and we knew he was a kill fish. So we got the flying gaffs out and he came out to the boat and he sounded again and came back up and rolled over and we got him in the boat," Beard explained.
The average winning size for the tournament is 568 pounds and the record for the tournament in the past 15 years is 899.2 pounds and Beard's fish is worth 138-thousand dollars.
Captain Joey Birbeck and the crew of the "You Never Know!" brought in a monster fish as well.
Their catch wasn't enough to knock off the top spot but it got pretty close measuring in at 120 inches and weighing in at 640.8 pounds.
Captain Birbeck said they had two releases yesterday and wanted to be sure that this fish was the one.
The fight with the fish started at about 8:30 Saturday morning.
Another notable from the afternoon was renowned chef and South Walton native Emeril Lagasse. This was his first time as the angler of a marlin off of the boat "Aldente". His marlin measured in at 109 inches and weighed in at 475 point seven pounds.
The "Aldente" also had one of the top tuna, weighing in at 168.6 pounds.
Connor Ferrara and the crew of the "Reel Fire" snuck into second place with the last boated marlin of the day that was 118 inches and weighed in at 665.2 pounds.