A Tale of Two Fish
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, host the Blue Marlin Grand Championship July 8–13
By Mary Story
To be honest, I’m not much of an angler. In fact, I have been deep-sea fishing only one time in my life. During my eight hours at sea, I caught one fish and spent the day trying to get my sea legs.
I do enjoy sporting events, however, and can respect the time, effort and commitment that it takes to reach the pinnacle of any sport. So with all the hype and anticipation leading up to the Blue Marlin Grand Championship, I decided to try to get a better understanding of deep-sea fishing from a spectator’s viewpoint.
Since this was my first fishing tournament, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I wondered how exciting it could be if most of the action occurred far out in the Gulf. But I know that Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have a knack for turning any occasion into a party, and suspected the Blue Marlin Grand Championship would be no exception.
I now realize that attending a fishing event on the Gulf Coast without ever having seen another fishing tournament is paramount to attending the Super Bowl without ever having seen a high school football game. Wrangling a marlin is pretty much the Holy Grail for sport fishermen. All 50 slots sold out early and teams from as far away as Delaware and the Virgin Islands were angling for more than a million dollars in prize money.
With a bit of beginner’s luck, I was fortunate to have access to a hospitality tent located very near the weigh-in tower. Early Friday evening, I began to hear the crowd buzzing with news that one of the teams was on its way back to The Wharf with a huge marlin.
Excitement began to build as people headed to the dock to watch Jeremy Powers and his crew aboard Rising Sons unload a humongous blue fish. Even though spectators don’t get to see the prey being caught and hauled into the boat, watching a 700-plus pound fish being unloaded is pretty entertaining. It also gives you an appreciation of what is must have been like to wrestle with this beast for the six or seven hours it took to hook him and haul him into the boat.
When Jeremy’s blue marlin was finally hoisted up on the scales, it tipped them at 789.9 pounds and broke a 24-year Alabama blue marlin record. The crowd went wild.
Thinking that most of the excitement for the evening was probably over, I considered myself lucky to have witnessed a record-breaking weigh-in and went back to socializing with friends in the hospitality tent.
Then, less than two hours later, the crowd started murmuring again. Chris Ferrara and the Reel Fire team were on their way back with another very large blue marlin. The last record stood for 24 years. Surely Rising Sons’ record wouldn’t be broken less than two hours later.
When Ferrara’s marlin weighed in at 845.8 pounds, the roar from the crowd was so loud you would have thought one of the Manning brothers had just thrown a 50-yard pass for a game-winning touchdown. This blue marlin shattered the hours-old record by almost 56 pounds.
Honestly, I never dreamed watching a fishing tournament could be so exciting. And it wasn’t just the luck of seeing two records broken in one night. There was also something alluring about the classic Man vs. Beast story: The latest technology and the most skilled fishermen pitted against the powerful and elusive blue monster. It’s a contest any sports enthusiast could appreciate.
Discover more about the Gulf Coast fishing scene. Order or view our Vacation Guide online to see what else is in store for your Gulf Shores and Orange Beach getaway.