The 12th annual Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic, presented by H&E Equipment Services, the second leg of The Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship, is now in the record books. With a fleet of 45 boats, ranging in length from 32' to 95', our participants fished for a total purse of $657,900.00 plus trophies and prizes.
Our festivities started Tuesday evening, May 31 with our Dock Party, sponsored by our host facility, Cypress Cove Lodge & Marina. Everyone enjoyed the boiled shrimp and smoked pork and a good time was had by all. Wednesday, June 1, was our official Registration Day, Captains Meeting, and Kick Off Party. As usual, we were slammed with last minute arrivals of boats-the Mustad bags were a hit. Acme Oyster House lived up to their reputation at our Kick Off Party, sponsored by Le Beouf Towing, with seafood pasta, oyster bar, lima bean soup, fried fish, and of course, bread pudding.
Thursday, June 2, started a little slow (as a result of too much fun Wednesday night maybe?). Optional entries closed at 1:00 pm with a total payout of $657,900.00 with 45 boats. Father Gerry Stapleton from St. Patrick's Cathedral of Port Sulphur, Louisiana visited to continue our tradition of the Blessing of the Fleet. At 4:00 pm, boats departed for the river, the rip, rigs, Mississippi Canyon and Green Canyon in the Gulf of Mexico, led by Chasin Tail an 80' Weaver, with owner John Engquist of H&E Equipment Services and Captain Clayt James.
Friday, June 3, our phones started ringing early at 7:15 am, with Team Wild Hooker a 68' Blackwell with Captain Shane O'Brien and owner Allen Stuart calling in a 116" Blue Marlin in the boat, with Guy Arrington as the angler - the bite was on. Shortly thereafter, the releases started coming in with Born2Run, a 63' Hatteras GTcalling in a Blue Marlin release at 7:25 am and You Never Know!, a 72' F&S calling at 7:41 am with a Blue Marlin release. At 8:30 am, Team Click Through, a 68' Wanchese with owner Keith English and Captain Matt Mauldwin called in a 116" Blue Marlin in the boat for angler Lopaka Robello. Both boats were coming in Friday afternoon--it was going to be close with the same lengths! Team Click Through hit the scales at 2:13 pm with a 672.2 Blue Marlin --would it hold up with Team Wild Hooker yet to weigh in? Wild Hooker hit the scales at 5:17 pm with their 116" Blue Marlin that weighed 635.1 lbs. We then had Team Bimini Babe on their 74' Viking with owner Floyd "Babe" Appling and Captain Lee Weidner bring in a 541 lb Bluefin Tuna for angler Trey Thormahlen. Bimini Babe bought their entry fee through the Houston Big Game Fishing Club charity auction. They chose to burn over 600 gallons of fuel and lose 9 hours of fishing to bring in their Bluefin tuna and not waste the meat. Then, Captain Pat Ivie and owner Matt McDonald, on their 68' Viking Breathe Easy called in to report a 104" Blue Marlin at 8:20 pm for angler Rick Olsen. They chose to overnight at Port Eads and weigh in Saturday. Our total releases for Friday were 11 Blue Marlin and 5 White Marlin, with Team You Never Know! and angler Sydney Turner having 2 Blue Marlin releases aboard their 72' F&S with Captain Joey Birbeck and owner Thomas Turner. Team Done Deal, a 70' Viking with owner Jon Gonsoulin and Captain Jason Buck, also had 2 Blue Marlin releases on Friday.
Saturday, June 4, was a bit slower, but not by much, with 5 Blue Marlin releases and 1 White Marlin released. Our total releases were 16 Blue Marlin and 6 White Marlin. Born2Run called in their second Blue Marlin release at 9:39 am. Team Breathe Easy hit the scales at 12 noon with a 392.3 lb Blue Marlin for angler Rick Olsen. Acme Oyster House again outdid themselves at our Saturday night party, sponsored by Florida Marine Transporters, boiled shrimp, Cajun jambalaya, gumbo, fried fish, Natchitoches meat pies, and all the trimmings. Thanks Acme Oyster House.
Sunday morning, our Awards Breakfast was hosted by our Presenting Sponsor H&E Equipment Services with food by Cypress Cove Grill--thank you Charlotte and Rene!
Click Through, with angler Lopaka Robello took first place Blue Marlin, weighing in at 672.2 lbs, paying them $122,400.00. Second place Blue Marlin went to angler Guy Arrington, fishing on the Wild Hooker, weighing in at 635.1 lbs, paying them $73,980.00 . Third place Blue Marlin went to angler Rick Olsen on the Breathe Easy, weighing in at 392.3 lbs, paying them $45,720.00.
Our Release division, sponsored by the good people at Release Marine, was won by You Never Know!, with two Blue Marlin releases, all caught by female angler Sydney Turner, won $74,025.00. Second place Release went to Done Deal, based on time, with two Blue Marlin releases, winning $71,415.00. Our third place Release winner was Born2Run, with two Blue Marlin releases, winning $45,810.00. Born2Run lost their steering Friday morning and chose to stay out--congratulations Captain Myles Colley for a job well done with no steering! All winners received gorgeous, custom teak-inlay Release Marine step boxes. Love you Sam and Melissa--simply the best
Our Wahoo division was won by angler Ryan Brock, fishing with Scott Cooper, on the 37' Freeman, Triple C, powered by quad Yamaha Outboards, with Captain Marlin Brown; his 1st place Wahoo weighed 65.7 lbs and paid them $4,950.00. Second place wahoo, was angler Dan MacMaster, fishing with owner Dan Haeuser and Captain Jimmy Crochet on their 61' Viking, Conundrum, weighing in at 46.4 lbs and paid them $7,470.00. Our third place wahoo was caught by angler Chris Britton fishing on owner Sean Ely's 56' Viking Pour Intentions, with Captain Hunter Forbes, weighing in at 38.6 lbs and paying them $1,980.00.
Our Tuna division was won by Laurie McVay Jones, fishing with Captain Scooter Porto and owner Rocky Jones on their 56' Viking Reel Addiction. Her winning yellowfin tuna weighed 165.3 lbs and paid them $17,100.00. Second place tuna was Junior Angler Gage Herberger fishing on the 60' Hatteras Duke, with Jay Lauricella, winning them $10,800.00. Our third place tuna was caught by angler Gary Graves, fishing on the 55' Ricky Scarborough, Lisa Jo, with owner Michael Lovett and Captain Logan Lovett, weighing in at 136.1 lbs, paying them $6,480.00.
Our Dolphin division was won by angler Larry Wireman, fishing on his 64' Viking Carib with captain Luke Crenshaw weighing in at 30.9 lbs, paying them $5,175.00. Second place dolphin was angler J.D. Hebert, fishing with his dad onboard his 58' Viking Geaux Deep, weighing in at 27.7 lbs. Third place Dolphin went to angler Sherry Polk fishing with Captain Mike Roberto and her husband Buell Polk on their "loaner" Viking 61, weighing in at 26.0 lbs and paying them $2,070.00
Our Top Female Angler Trophy, sponsored by The Roosevelt Hotel-New Orleans went to Sydney Turner on You Never Know!, with two Blue Marlin releases for 1000 points. She was awarded a weekend stay at the historic Roosevelt Hotel, along with a Spa Gift Certificate, a pink Taiga Cooler, and a custom re-marked print from Steve T Goione. Thank you Mr. Sam!
Our Top Youth Angler Trophy, in memory of Jim Peachey, was awarded to Jaselyn Berthelot, releasing her first billfish, a Blue Marlin, and weighing in a 103 lb yellowfin tuna, a 37 lb yellowfin tuna and a 24.5 lb Dolphin, totaling 665.4 points. It was her first Blue Marlin catch, so yes, she got to go swimming! She was fishing with her dad, Toby Berthelot on his 52' Viking Rising Sons. Jaselyn also received a custom Taiga Cooler and a custom re-marked print from Steve T Goione.
During our tournament, we hosted a silent auction to benefit The Billfish Foundation and were able to raise $7,290.00 for them to carry on their good work, especially in the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to Professional Sports Shop, Captain Kevin Beach of Mexican Gulf Fishing Company, Captain Chris Wilson of Rivers End Outfitters, Faux Pas Prints, Taiga Coolers, LLC, Davis Hardesty of Boscoe Lures, and everyone that donated and purchased items, it will be money well spent by The Billfish Foundation.
All our winning Captains received waterproof Captains Bags compliments of Mustad Hooks and Professional Sports Shop, custom Taiga Coolers, a gift certificate from Maui Jim Sunglasses, a gift bucket from our friends at TABASCO, along with an embroidered Columbia jacket and portable cell phone chargers from comefishla.com, Inc. Additionally, our 1st Place Winners received custom, remarked prints from our Official Marine Artist, Steve T Goione. Team You Never Know! winning 1st Place Release, Top Female Angler, and Top Boat needed a truck to carry home their prizes-Congratulations to female angler Sydney Turner and Captain Joey Birbeck for a job well done.
A special recognition goes out to Team Over Ride for stopping their tournament fishing to transfer 5 gallons of oil to a boat in distress--way to go Captain Ryan Doxey and owner Marty Griffith! True fishermen never abandon another fisherman in distress. Karma paid off for Team Over Ride, releasing a Blue Marlin shortly after their good deed.
Our Top Billfish Boat Trophy, the C.R. Bob Potter Memorial Trophy, was awarded to You Never Know!, with 1,000 points. As our Top Billfish Boat, they won an invitation to fish the Offshore World Championship in 2017.
We would like to thank our loyal sponsors, old and new participants, the staff of both Cypress Cove Marina & Lodge and Venice Marina along with our tournament staff for a wonderful week in southern Plaquemines Parish! See you in Venice next year or trolling the rip.
Steve Thomas Tournament Director
Originally Published by the Cajun Canyons Fishing Tournament