Weather delay doesn’t dampen fishermen’s spirits

Tina Harbuck

The 17th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic may have been pushed back a day, but it hasn’t dampened the spirits of the fishermen.

“I think the weather is going to be fine. It may be a little bumpy on the way out,” said Capt. B.J. Teems, who’ll be at the helm of the Soggy Dollar, a 61-foot Viking.

The Soggy Dollar is just one of 80 boats vying for $1,853,025 in cash awards.

The ECBC was scheduled to blast off on Thursday from the sea buoy just past the Destin jetties; however, with the rough seas offshore, the start time was moved to Friday at 7 a.m.

With the move of the start time, the weigh-in times and days have moved as well. Saturday weigh-in is from 4-9 p.m. at Baytowne Marina in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resorts. Boats must be under the Destin bridge (Marler Bridge) by 8 p.m. On Sunday, weigh-in starts at 2 p.m. and goes until the last the last fish is weighed. Boats must be under the Destin bridge by 4 p.m. to be eligible to weigh fish.

“We’ll be fishing open water,” Teems said, noting he didn’t plan to run to the oil rigs. “We’ve got our old trusty lure … hopefully we’ll get lucky and find the right one or a couple of ones.”

Teems and his crew on the Soggy Dollar placed third in the Dolphin Division last year with a 39.1-pounder.

The crew aboard the Breathe Easy, like most, was taking advantage of the extra day to prepare on Thursday.

“The delay was definitely good … another day of rest,” said Albert Elizondo, a deckhand. “Them doing this was a good call.”

Elizondo was working with deckhand Corey Hurst, checking the drag on the rigs.

“It won't be ideal, but hopefully we’ll make it happen. It’s always a good tournament,” Elizondo said.

The ECBC is one of five competitive billfish tournaments in the Gulf of Mexico. A couple of weeks ago, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, held out of Biloxi, Mississippi, was hit with high seas and bad weather cutting the field of boats in half.

The ECBC tournament, however, is looking to be as strong and competitive as usual.

Capt. Bobby Dobson of the Traders Hill, a 105-foot Broward out of Panama City, is a regular at the ECBC. The crew has fished almost every ECBC.

As for the extra day, “It’s just more time with family and friends,” Dobson said as he worked at getting the line ready on the rods.

When asked what he anticipates as far as fishing goes, Dobson said, “I anticipate a lot of grass.”

“I think they’ll be a lot of fish killed,” said Steven Pixley, deckhand on the Squid Row of Destin.

Pixley will be working the back deck of the 45-foot Viking captained by Gary Jarvis along with Travis Marlin. The two were busy Thursday morning getting the ballyhoo and Spanish mackerel ready.

“We’ll brine them, to toughen them up, so they drag better,” Pixley said.

Capt. Jarvis placed second in the Wahoo Division last year with a 60.1-pounder caught aboard his old boat Backdown 2.

A new captain to this year’s event and a long way from home is Capt. Clinton Clark of the Rebecca of Port Aransas, Texas.

“We got here Monday,” Clark said. “We’ve done alright.”

As for the weather, “It’ll be fine … I think it’s going to get nice. Hopefully they’ll bite,” Clark added.