This year’s 2021 Blue Marlin Grand Champions faced serious adversity at the start of the tournament but in true underdog fashion, came back to clinch the top prize.
Shortley after the tournament’s shotgun start, the 58 competing boats raced to their favorite fishing spot in search of a prize-winning blue marlin. But not Chris Haley, owner of Skin Deep Sportfishing. He was about 10 miles offshore when the boat felt like it ran over a log.
“My son Patrick jumped in. We slung a blade and pulled the strut loose from the bottom of the boat. We got hauled out at Saunders and we are dead in the water,” Haley said Thursday afternoon.
The boat repairs would take time the team did not have so Haley started calling around. He was able to find a charter available, Joe Jernigan’s boat Feeling Nauti.
“It’s great to have friends in the business. We called seven or eight people. Joe is nice enough to let us use his boat and we are going to go make a run at it. We are going to put all of our own tackle on here and go get fuel and head offshore,” Haley said shortly after boarding Feeling Nauti.
After fueling up and loading in all the gear, Skin Deep Sportfishing was off on Feeling Nauti before dark Thursday night. The team wasted no time in landing a massive blue marlin before lunch Friday. They were the first of four blue marlins to weigh in on the first night topping the scales at 575.2 pounds.
Throughout the tournament, Blue Marlin Grand Championship Master of Ceremonies Jim Cox gave live updates on Facebook. There were many blue and white marlin released throughout the tournament getting teams points but the crowds came to see the blue marlins weigh in.
On the first night of weigh-ins, Hall Pass had a 534.4-pound blue marlin. Lisa Jo brought in a 115-inch blue marlin weighing in at 516.4 pounds and last year’s champion Pearl weighed in a 575.2-pound blue marlin.
On the final night of the tournament Rascal weighed in a 463-pound blue marlin and Sea Wolf’s weighed in at 482.8 pounds.
In the end, the team that almost did not make it out and the first to weigh in took the top prize. Team Skin Deep Sportfishing aboard Feeling Nauti took home a check for $356,625, bragging rights and the best fishing story of the tournament.
On Thursday, before Feeling Nauti left The Wharf Marina, owner Joe Jernigan said, “I wish I could have fished too but I can’t so maybe the boat will get lucky.”
Looks like his wish came true.