Not one, two or even three, but five blue marlin in a weekend put the crew aboard the Destin-based Mollie with Capt. Jeff Shoults in the big money in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic in Biloxi, Mississippi, last weekend.
The Mollie took second place in the blue marlin division with a 654.2-pounder and first place in catch and release, with four blues released for a total of $403,005 in prize money.
“Five blue marlin is incredible,” said Capt. Shoults. “I’ve caught three before … but this was pretty cool.”
Fishing west of Louisiana and about 260 miles from Biloxi, the crew on the Mollie caught and released four blue marlin on Friday.
The smallest of the four was about 100 pounds and the largest was about 500 pounds.
“We thought it was a kill fish,” Shoults said, but they decided to release it instead.
Shoults said they had heard of two big blue marlin already being caught.
“So we felt really good about releasing four,” he said, noting that gave them a good chance at winning the catch and release category.
The next morning they started back toward Biloxi. They put the baits out about 5:30 a.m. and 25 minutes later, it was fish on.
“It jumped pretty much the whole time and greyhounded,” Shoults said. “It was the perfect blue marlin and did everything it was supposed to do. And it got caught … that was the main thing.”
It took angler Thomas Cornelison about 50 minutes to get the marlin to the boat where the crew of Eric Hayles, Chance Young and Ryan Long were able to get it on the deck.
“We have a wonderful team … which makes it a whole lot easier,” Shoults said.
While they were fighting the big blue, Shoults said there were about six boats nearby watching, which added to the excitement.
“This was just our day,” Shoults said, noting they didn’t even see a marlin in their last tournament a weekend ago. “This weekend was our day.”
As for the prize money, “That’s the biggest bunch of money I’ve ever won,” he said.