2016 Most Memorable Catches
A Part of the What's Biting Series
As much as I hate to admit it, the offshore season is winding down. I know some of us will keep at it until November or perhaps even until December if this warmer than usual weather sticks around. As we all think about another season gone by I thought it would be fun to look at some of the summer's most memorable offshore catches.
On August 24, I excitedly wrote about what many of us felt was the upcoming spectacular white marlin season off the Alabama coast. Starting in August, anglers who like to chase white marlin are waiting for reports to start coming in. It only takes one boat to have multiple shots around The Nipple, The 131 Hole or The Elbow and the 'Ballyhoo Bulletin' to have all of us heading offshore.
And we are still waiting! It just hasn't happened this year. Nobody knows why, but there have been virtually no White Marlin reports. A few weekends ago there must have been twenty boats all searching for 'Whitey' at the usual spots mentioned above with nothing to show for it. White Marlin are very accomplished at frustrating anglers with their soft, non-hooking-themselves-bites, but now did they need to add to the frustration with a not as expected travel schedule to our waters this fall?
2016 hasn't been the year of the White Marlin, but the Blue Marlin certainly didn't disappoint tournament teams or big game fishing fans. I saw two different Blue Marlin brought to the scales this summer that had me convinced were both going to break the current Alabama state record of 845lbs,13oz held by Chris Ferrara.
During the Mobile Big Game Fishing Club's annual Memorial Day Tournament angler and owner Robert Burroughs on his boat QuickTime was waiting as the weigh dock opened for his chance at $1,000,000. The MBGFC offers a one million dollar prize to the angler who breaks the Alabama Blue Marlin state record during either the Memorial Day or Labor Day Tournament. Burroughs fish looked close, but both myself and MBGFC Weighmaster Craig Martin thought it would top the 850-pound mark. It ended up weighing 806 pounds. No million dollars, but Burroughs does now hold the record for the biggest Blue Marlin caught during the fifty-year history of the Mobile Big Game Fishing Club.
It wouldn't be the last time Martin and I were fooled by a Blue Marlin hanging on a scale inOrange Beach this summer. At the Blue Marlin Grand Championship at The Wharf in July, another monster marlin was brought to the scales. Angler Josh Goodson and Captain Joe Birbeck on the You Never Know teamed up to bring what Martin and I thought surely, positively was going to be the new record bearer in Alabama. Not only did we think it was going to weigh more than 845 pounds, but we also guessed how many pounds over 900 it would tip the scale. Like Burroughs fish, this one weighed in at 806.8 pounds. Two different fish fooled us and weighed within .8 of each other.
The team on You Never Know had another great catch also at the MBGFC Memorial Day Tournament. Angler Sydney Turner brought in the first Bluefin Tuna this summer in the Gulf of Mexico. Her 'wicked tuna' weighed 647.80 pounds and provided a chance for spectators at the tournament the rare chance to see one of these giant tunas up close.
Maybe we didn't get a new state record Blue Marlin this year, but Chris Blankenship, Alabama's Director of Marine Resources, told me that nine new state record fish were caught this year. Pigfish, Creolefish, Smooth Dogfish, Sharksucker, Sand Tilefish, Silk Snapper, Whitebone Porgy, Lionfish and Oilfish all saw new records established and I am sure many of their weights would also have fooled me.