Wynsong wins big in Billfish Classic

Tina Harbuck
The crew aboard the Wynsong hauled in this 699.3-pound blue marlin during the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic last weekend in Louisiana. The marlin, caught by Zach Tokheim, measured 119 inches and took four-hours to haul in. Pictured from left are Capt. Allen Staples, Capt. Caleb Brown, Chris Sheppard and Zach Tokheim. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

If the third time is the charm, then fourth has to be the crown jewel.

At least that was the case for the crew aboard the Wynsong with Destin’s Capt. Allen Staples last weekend when their fourth blue marlin and fourth yellowfin tuna over the rails took top honors in the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic held out of Cypress Cove Marina in Venice, Louisiana. Not only did the 699.3-pound blue marlin and 156-pound yellowfin earn first place awards, they placed second in the catch and release division with three marlin releases, ranging from 175- to 450-pounds.

“It was a fun and good weekend,” Capt. Staples said.

Fishing about 160 miles out of Destin in 3,500 feet of water near the oil rigs, they hooked up with the big blue at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and boarded it by 1 p.m.

“We had already caught and released three blue marlins,” Staples said.

As a matter of fact, just 20 minutes before they hooked the big one, they caught and released a 450-pounder.

“It was big enough to keep but not big enough to win,” Staples said.

Minutes later they put out their last bait, a live blackfin tuna.

“It didn’t do much as first … it just lay their. Then it came up and jumped and we saw just how big it was,” Staples said. “It took her about five minutes before she realized she was hooked and at that point she went crazy.”

The big blue took out about 300- to 400-yards of line and jumped several times.

“She put on a good show,” Staples said.

After hours of reeling and tugging, they finally got the marlin to settle down.

“We had her on the wire 12 to 15 times before we finally got her to the boat,” he said.

Zach Tokheim, also of Destin, was the angler on the rod and Chris Sheppard was able to get a gaff in the fish.

The Wynsong crew caught their first two blue marlins on Friday. Ham Poyner pulled in the first, a 175-pounder, and Pickett Reese, the second, a 300-pounder.

Then on Saturday, Tokheim hauled in the 450-pounder just minutes before he hooked up with the winners.

As for the yellowfin tuna, they caught three before Pickett hooked up with the top tuna.

“He fought him for four hours,” Staples said. “Nobody got any sleep on our boat.”

The four-hour fight with the tuna was a bit long for a yellowfin.

“That thing was just mean and ornery,” Staples said.

Prior to 156-pounder, they pulled in three weighing about 70 pounds each.

With all the big fish and releases, the Wynsong crew is the current leader in the Gulf Coast Triple Crown.

The Triple Crown is a series that focuses on recognizing the best overall championship team. If the team competes in a sanctioned tournament, they are automatically entered and eligible to win.

Sanctioned tournaments include the Orange Beach Billfish Classic, Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic, Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic and the Blue Marlin Grand Championship of the Gulf.

The crew of the Wynsong is headed back out this weekend to participate in the Mississippi tournament.

“We just go out and do the best we can and hope to get lucky and get the bites,” Staples said.