Sandestin, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Sunday is payday at the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, and by nightfall, 23 of the 80 teams walked away with a share of $1.8 million.
Angler Nick Pratt out of Alabama, along with his team on board "It Just Takes Time" celebrate record ECBC payout Sunday
Teams traveled more than 150 miles out, coming back with with literal boatloads. 73 fish were weighed off 29 boats, while 29 fish were caught and released.
Plenty of tuna, wahoo, and dolphin hit the scales Sunday afternoon and evening, but nobody could match the Saturday haul for captain Chris Hood and the crew of "It' Just Takes Time" and angler Nick Pratt, whose 574 pound and 114 inch blue marlin wound up being the only blue of the tournament and cashed out at nearly $600,000.
“There’s a lot of very good boats out there in the fleet," the Theodore, Alabama native said. "We definitely were nervous waiting to see. We're very fired up. This is something is a once in a lifetime thing for everyone in our crew. Everyone here is all friends of mine. We’ve fished together for quite a few years now and had a great time. It’s definitely, by far, the best week I’ve ever had fishing!”
Locals dominated the wahoo category. Destin-based boat "Pair-a-Dice" captained by Kirk Ogren took first with a 55.8 pounder, while captain Dylan Gandy and "Dream's Wake IV" placed third with a 42.9 pound fish despite a late start.
“We actually lost a motor the first day and didn’t get to fish." angler Jamie Posey said. "Went to Panama City, got the motor worked on, got back out that night after getting soaking wet and beat up for another four or five hours, got back out that night and actually caught the fish the next morning right at daylight."
Although they're one of the youngest teams in the ECBC, they're familiar with the event and thrilled to place together for the first time.
"Everybody’s local, in our 20s, some even in our teens still. We’ve all fished, all grown up fishing tournaments and fished this tournament for years. We’re finally at the age where we’ve all got to throw in and do it ourselves now so that’s what we’re doing. We feel like we earned that one a little bit!”
Angler Sage Mount’s catch pockets roughly $10,000 for third.