A Work of Art hauls in big blue in 20th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Out of a field of 84 boats, A Work of Art out of Orange Beach, Alabama, was the big winner in the 20th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort with a 638.7-pounder hauled in by Christian Fast. 

Fast told the huge crowd gathered Saturday at the weigh-in event at Baytowne Marina, the site of the ECBC at Sandestin, that he fought the 116-inch monster for just under five hours. 

The staff on deck at the Baytown Marina maneuver a big blue marlin to the scales during the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic on Saturday. Six blue marlin were brought to the scales during the event.

“It was all in the hot sun … no relief,” he told Scott Rossman, who served as emcee for the event. 

Fast and crew aboard the 92-foot Viking with Capt. Jason Buck at the helm took home $545,681 for the big blue, top angler award plus jackpots. 

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Hauling in the second largest blue marlin of the event, a 546.9-pounder, was Kirk Aronson aboard the Benedetta of Sandestin with local captain Curt Gwin at the helm. Their fish measured 110.5 inches in length. 

Third largest was a 513.3-pound marlin reeled in by Nimrod Frazier aboard the Raise ‘Em Up of Sandestin with Capt. Hunter Forbes at the helm. 

Frazier hooked his fish at 7:45 p.m. Friday and fought the fish all in the dark. 

Christian Fast shows off his 638.7-pound blue marlin that took first place in the Emerald Coast Blue Marlins Classic. He was fishing aboard A Work of Art out of Orange Beach.

“I was glad the sun was down,” Frazier told Rossman. 

Capt. Forbes said they were fishing about 150 miles from Destin when they hooked the fish. 

“We got to the leader pretty quick in about 20 to 30 minutes,” Forbes told The Log. "Our underwater lights weren’t working at the time … we did not see the fish when we touched the leader.”

However, he did say they saw it jumping and “we knew it was a good fish but we didn’t know how good it was,” he said. 

The crew aboard the Raise 'Em Up with Capt. Hunter Forbes at the helm pose for a few photos with their 513.3-pound blue marlin caught by Nimrod Frazier. Their catch finished in third place in the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic.

The marlin sounded, and they could still feel it biting, then it went slack and the fish was tail wrapped. 

Forbes said it was about 1:30 in the morning when they got it on the boat. 

The big blue was actually their second marlin of the day. They went three-for-three on blue marlin, releasing two. 

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For the tournament, six blue marlin were brought to the scales. Placing fourth was Troy Layton with a 503.7-pounder caught aboard Destin’s Sea Wolff with Capt. Jared Quick. 

Fifth place was Destin’s Briar Patch with a 469.3-pound hauled in by Mary Katherine Adams with Capt. Nicholas Hunter. 

Sixth went to another Destin boat, Up-To-It with a 457.4-pounder caught by Damien Bond with Capt. Rodney Johnson. 

In the Dolphin Division, first place went to a 38.9-pounder caught by Smith Reaves fishing aboard the Soul Candy based out of Santa Rosa Beach with Capt. Jordan Whiteman at the helm. 

The deck staff work to get one of the big blue marlin on to the scales at the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin on Saturday.

Second place went to Wally Gentry with a 37.6-pounder aboard the Evil Eyes out of Orange Beach, Alabama. And third was a 36.1-pounder hauled in aboard the Reel Wicked of Destin by Daniel Guilbeau with Capt. Steven Pixley at the helm. 

The top tuna was a 194.2-pounder pulled in by Chris Hatcher aboard the Salt Shaker out of Sandestin with Capt. Dennis Bennett. Second was a 170.8-pounder on the Reel Fire out of Pensacola pulled in by Kate Ferrara. Third largest was a 149.4-pounder reeled in by Lance Rucker aboard the Perra Mala out of Panama City Beach. 

It was a packed crowd down at Baytowne Marina at Sandestin for the 20th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic on Saturday.

The winning wahoo was a 64.7-pounder caught on the Salt Shaker by Jeff Singleton. Second was a 54.7-pounder caught by Michael Savage aboard the Change Order out of Destin with Capt. Max Smith. Change Order also had the third largest wahoo a 36.2-pounder reeled in by Thomas Anderson. 

In the billfish release division, Quantified of Texas placed first with 12 releases. They released seven white marlin, three sailfish and two blue marlin.