763-Pound Blue Marlin Wins $631,000 Purse in Mississippi Tournament

The crew of the “It Just Takes Time” wins the contest for the third year in a row with an impressive blue. Many other boats collected big checks, with 56 blue marlin, eight white marlin and three sailfish caught off Biloxi.

763-Pound Blue Marlin
Captain Chris Hood and the crew of the “It Just Takes Time” boated an impressive 763-pound blue marlin while fishing in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic. Captain Chris Hood

It was June 11 in the closing hours of the three-day Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic (MGCBC) out of Biloxi. Captain Chris Hood had been there before, having led his boat team on the 72-foot Viking “It Just Takes Time” to two previous year wins in the prestigious and very rich tournament.

History Repeats Itself

“It was mid-morning, and we were 200 miles from Biloxi near the same floating oil rig where in 2021 we caught a 793-pound blue marlin to win that year’s MGCBC,” said the 38-year old Alabama captain. “We were in about 2,200-feet water and I had my eyes glued to my boat’s Omni sonar looking for big marks showing marlin down deep.

“I saw one and had the crew toss out a pair of 12-pound blackfin tuna baits, setting them about 100 feet behind our boat. I never saw the marlin from the bridge. But on the sonar, I watched the ‘mark’ from the marlin come to a trolled live tuna and take it.”

That was about 9 a.m., and boat owner/angler Nick Pratt, 40, of Mobile got on the 80-pound class tackle rod hooked to the marlin and went to work.

The fish took line, and shook its head, and Captain Hood chased the marlin with the big Viking boat registered out of Orange Beach, Alabama.

“The fish stayed near the surface, and she jumped a couple times near the boat well into the fight,” says Hood. “We got her close in about 90 minutes. A team member got some leader wraps, and we muscled the fish into the boat.”

That was 10:30 a.m., and Hood knew they had to leave no later than 11 a.m. to get the big Viking back to the tourney weigh station. They did, and won what is the third consecutive year for the “It Just Takes Time” boat to claim the top billfish prize of the event, which this year had total purse payout of $1.36 million.

Their 763-pound winning blue is the only marlin killed and weighed during the event because of its size. Other billfish were released, including three additional smaller blues and white marlin for the “It Just Takes Time”.

“We were four for four on marlin, and that’s says something about our great team of anglers,” said Hood. “We’ve had our boat fishing team together for four years, and everyone is outstanding. We all get along with no drama, and no job is too big or too small for everyone in our Alabama crew.”

Boat owner-angler Pratt agreed, saying, “We have excellent chemistry and it’s an excellent crew. We’re thankful to have gotten the opportunity one time [to win], let alone three [wins].”

It Just Takes Time” won the MGCBC in 2020 with a 570.2-pound marlin and again last year with a 793-pounder. With the three-peat, the boat has won more than $1.2 million in prize money the last three years at the MGCBC.

“It Just Takes Time”
The “It Just Takes Time” steams away from port during the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic.

A Field of Winners

A total of 73 boats and 360 anglers competed in the 2022 MGCBC. The fleet caught 56 blue marlin, eight white marlin and three sailfish. Only one blue marlin was weighed. In the game fish categories, 29 yellowfin tuna were weighed, along with eight dolphin and five wahoo.

Other big winners in the 2022 MGCBC included:

Captain Justin Drummond of the “Quantified” with the top dolphin at 37 pounds and the team released three sailfish and three white marlin to earn $140,060.

Top release boat (based on points) with four blue marlin was the “Ramble On” with Captain Shannon Allman, winning $120,170.

The “El Jefe” boat took second-place yellowfin tuna at 186.4 pounds. Jackson Stewart was the angler with boat Captain Kirk Ogren, Collecting $65,254.

Shock Wave” with Captain Shelby Johnson tallied three blue marlin releases to win $47,025.

Captain Billy Blount on the “Sunrise” also had three blue marlin releases, along with a third-place dolphin for $42,065.

Angler Drew Phillips set a tournament record with a 206.9-pound yellowfin tuna, earning $36,695.

Many other boat crews won money for their noteworthy catches, too.

The 27th annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic will be held June 5-11, 2023, at the host Golden Nugget in Biloxi.

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