“It’s possible to raise a blue marlin any month of the year here in the Gulf,” Perry explains. “And there’s always the chance for a grander. I was on Uptoit in 2005, and we caught a 542 during a tournament, and it was good only for third place. But that’s why the Gulf is so good. In these blue waters, you never know what will pop up into the spread.”
Go It Alone
Capt. Jason Buck has been running Done Deal, a 56 Viking based in Houma, Louisiana, for five years. The boat returned from abroad this past season and quickly established marks that won’t soon be repeated. It started with the top release award in the Mobile Big Game Club’s Memorial Day Tournament, with five blue marlin. The team then took second place in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic (563.8 pounds) and set a new tournament record in the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic with a blue weighing 783.6 pounds. Adding to the tally were several top awards in the game-fish divisions.
“We couldn’t do anything wrong,” Buck says modestly. “I have an extremely aggressive boss who is willing to go all out in the tournaments. I have awesome mates who run the cockpit, and great anglers. It all boils down to a team effort.”
Live-baiting is Done Deal’s specialty, and Buck prefers large, freshly caught skipjack tuna bridled with 12/0 up to 22/0 circle hooks, depending on the bait size. Rods are matched with standard 80 reels loaded with 80- or 100-pound-test line and 400-pound leaders. Up to three baits are deployed from short to long behind the boat.
“There are no fences out there,” Buck explains. “In the Gulf, we see ’em as big as they can get.” The Spur, various oil rigs south of the Mississippi River, and the southern part of the Green Canyon are Buck’s favorite spots to target large blues. “If you just camp out there, on the average you’ll do really well. We like to get off by ourselves, away from everyone else,” he adds
Top Billing: A Gallery of Trophy Gulf Blue Marlin
• Weight: 1,054.6 lb.* Angler: Barry Carr Boat: Sea Wolff Port: Biloxi, Mississippi Date: June 2002
• Weight: 1,046 lb.* Angler: Conrad Hawkins Boat: Lucky II Port: Panama City, Florida Date: July 2001
• Weight: 1,018.5 lb.* Angler: Linda Koerner Boat: Damifino Port: South Pass, Louisiana Date: July 1977
• Weight: 998.6 lb. Angler: Barry Carr Boat: Sea Wolff Port: Panama City, Florida Date: July 2006
• Weight: 980.7 lb. Angler: Warren Culbertson Boat: Dixie Darling Port: Destin, Florida Date: June 1985
• Weight: 958.6 lb. Angler: Cliff Stanich Boat: Last Stall Port: Venice, Louisiana Date: September 2003
• Weight: 917.4 lb. Angler: David Pippin Boat: Miss Orleans Port: Gulfport, Mississippi Date: June 1997
• Weight: 828.4 lb. Angler: Glenn Summers Boat: Backdown II Port: Pensacola, Florida Date: June 2001
• Weight: 783.6 lb. Angler: Travis Dorland Boat: Done Deal Port: Destin, Florida Date: June 2012
• Weight: 779.3 lb.* Angler: Marcus Kennedy Boat: Kwazar Port: Orange Beach, Alabama Date: May 1989
• Two blue marlin — 1,038 and 809 pounds each — were weighed in Veracruz, Mexico. In 1988, angler James Farrow set the Texas state record with a 876.5-pound fish. In addition, at least 18 blues weighing more than 700 pounds have been documented in Gulf waters, with countless more exceeding 500 pounds.
*Denotes State Record
Compiled by Capt. Dave Lear and Capt. John Cochrane (of www.stingerhooksystems.com)