Local captains giving it a go this weekend

Tina Harbuck
The crew aboard the Lyons Pride back in at the fuel docks at Baytowne Marina Friday morning getting ready for the 15th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. [TINA HARBUCK/THE LOG]

After Tropical Storm Cindy stirred up the Gulf of Mexico, the 15th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin is still a go — but has adjusted its weekend schedule of events.

The tournament blasted out of Destin Pass around 3 p.m. Friday, instead of Thursday, with weigh-in days moved to Saturday and Sunday.

But what does a storm in the gulf mean for fishing?

“Most of the time after a storm like this the fish don’t bite very well,” said Capt. Jeff Shoults of the Mollie.

In recent weeks, Shoults has done quite well offshore, hooking four blue marlin in one day and catching a 654.2-pounder the next to take second place and the big money in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic in Biloxi, Mississippi.

“The bite has been real good … but the tide line will be gone,” Shoults said.

“I’m not anticipating a lot of bites, but we’re going fishing for one big one,” he added.

Capt. Tommy Green of the Lucky 2, who set a new ECBC record last year with a 112.2-pound wahoo, will be on the big pond this weekend as well but is not expecting a whole lot.

“It’s usually slow fishing,” Green said after a storm.

“Regardless it’s usually messed up for three to five days until it all settles,” he said noting they are probably not going to head out until Saturday morning at daylight.

“All the grass lines will be scattered. There will be some fish caught but not like when you have decent weather,” Green said.

“But you go with your gut and go fishing. We’re going to give it a go,” Green said.

Green said they would be heading about 100 miles offshore.

“Nobody’s been out the last few days,” he said noting it’s going to be anybody’s guess.

Jim Roberson, a local angler and area International Game Fish Association representative, who will be serving as one of the Emcees for the Blue Marlin Classic this weekend says he sees three different scenarios that could play out.

First: The offshore bite has been “red hot.” He made note of the four marlin in one day aboard the Mollie. However he said that was on a calm sea.

Second: The water may not be real productive. Earlier this week there were 8-foot waves at the sea buoy. “There’s a great mixing machine going on right now."

Third: All the water is moving and coming this way. “When it comes this way you have a chance for an up welling,” Roberson said. And a lot of times that water is nutrient rich and predators will find that area and could produce other fish, he said.

“But nobody knows what is going to happen this weekend,” Roberson said.

“It’s going to be a true test of wills. Everybody is fishing blind. They will have to guess which direction to go,” he said.

Nevertheless, Roberson is expecting fish at the scales.

“You’ve got to admire the tenacity of these captains to go out there and kill it,” Roberson said.

The scales at Baytowne Marina at Sandestin Beach Resort will be open from 4-9 p.m. Saturday and then from 4-10 p.m. Sunday.

In addition to blue marlin, spectators can expect to see yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin hit the scales.