OUTDOORS

Blanchita wins Flathead Classic

Tina Harbuck
tharbuck@thedestinlog.com
DeeDee Phillips and crew show off the huge cobia right after they got it onboard on Saturday.

With more than 130 cobia brought to the docks across four days of fishing, DeeDee Phillips had the big fish in the Destin Flathead Classic held at Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House.

On Saturday, Phillips hauled in a 96.6-pound cobia to take top honors in the Classic.

“I was very, very fortunate to reel it in,” said Phillips, who was fishing aboard the Blanchita.

“My crew was unbelievable. They make it happen,” she said.

Making up the crew of the Blanchita is Capt. Bobby Atwell, along with deckhands Ricky Bennington, Josh Nelson and Mic Parker.

“Everybody had a part in it. It was quite precision,” she said to get it in.

On the first day of the tournament, Phillips caught a 60-pounder and was excited about that.

“I had never caught a cobia over 40 pounds before,” she said.

But that statement is now out the window.

The big cobia Saturday was swimming by itself when they spotted it.

“We thought it was a shark at first because it was so big,” she said.

But then she heard somebody say, “It’s a slob.”

Phillips came out of the bridge and asked her husband Allen if he wanted to reel it in, but he declined.

“It was crazy that it was that big,” she said.

The cobia ate a rockfish and the fight was on.

“I had him to the boat in about four minutes,” she said, but then he took off.

Three times she had the cobia within inches of the boat, but it would take off again.

“It didn’t like the boat,” she said. “I was a little nervous because I wanted to make sure I didn’t lose it.”

Phillips said she fought the fish for about 45 minutes before the fish wore down.

“Right before the last time I got him to the boat, I was tired. My reeling arm was tired,” she said. “But we just stuck with it.”

She said the deckhands had to use two gaffs to get the fish in the boat.

Once it was in the boat, they thought it weighed more in the 80s, but needless to say it turned out to be almost 100 pounds.

“We had a great time. It was a great tournament,” she said, noting it was the Blanchita’s first big cobia win.

Not only did Team Blanchita bring in the single largest fish, but they also won the Big Three with three fish weighing 228.9 pounds.

Phillips said they caught a total of 11 fish for the tournament.

But more than winning the tournament, she said she enjoyed “the camaraderie and having fun with family and friends. It was fun to have good weather and big fish.”

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FLATHEAD WINNERS

Overall (three fish aggregate)

First: Blanchita, 228.9 pounds

Second: Instigator, 224.5 pounds

Third: Miss B Haven, 215.2 pounds

Big Fish

First: Banchita, 96.6 pounds

Second: Instigator, 90.4 pounds

Third: Sure Lure, 88.2 pounds

Ladies

First: Blanchita, 96.6 pounds

Second: Miss B Haven, 72.5 pounds

Juniors

First: Sweet Caroline, 60.1 pounds

Second: Sweet Caroline, 49.1 pounds.

26-feet and under

First: Dawn Patrol, 165.7 pounds

Second: Ugly Duckling, 159.3 pounds

Third: Sea N Double, 149.4 pounds