This weekend will be the 10th year that a sport fisherman will be crowned a winner at The Wharf after claiming the Blue Marlin Grand Championship.
Next weekend will be the 10th year that a sport fisherman will be crowned a winner at The Wharf after claiming the Blue Marlin Grand Championship.
Originally scheduled for this weekend, the tournament announced Monday it would postpone due to impending weather.
Jim Cox, host of the event, said nearly 60 teams will factor into the pursuit of this year's purse, worth more than $1 million. Fishing begins next Thursday, July 21, and teams will weigh in their hauls that Friday before the Saturday weigh-ins declare a winner.
"The teams love the big crowds that we get there to come watch the weigh-ins," Cox said. "The venue itself is a huge part of what makes the tournament such a big spectacle with the jumbotrons and the flaming Marlins and smoke; the guys all say they feel like a rockstar walking out on stage when you come to weigh your fish at The Wharf."
That atmosphere has led to the event – which serves as the fourth and final billfish tournament in the Gulf Coast Triple Crown that started in mid-May – gaining prestige amongst the competitors.
"I would never refer to it as the Super Bowl of sport fishing but that's what a lot of the captains, they'll tell you that," Cox said. "It's the one they really want to win the most, it's probably the most prestigious one, a lot of them feel."
Similar to the Super Bowl, however, the Blue Marlin Grand Championship has not yet seen a repeat champion, Cox said.
"We've never had somebody win it more than once. Every year we're always wondering, 'Is this going to be the year we get a repeat champion,'" Cox posed. "You're fishing against the best of the best so it's so hard to win it once, let alone do it a second time. That's always on the mind of the teams that have won it before."
This year may just be the year, though, as the first champions from 2012, A Work Of Art, entered the Blue Marlin Grand Championship with a 275-point lead over five teams tied for second place. The team won first place weighed at the recent Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic and took second place catch and release and third place weighed at the Orange Beach Billfish Classic in May.
High Cotton, CE, It Just Takes Time, Ramble On and Quantified all racked up 250 points after they registered first-place finishes at previous tournaments.
A winner will be determined next Saturday, where Cox said there is no admission fee.
"No cost to come. No cost to park, everything's totally free," he said. "We'll let people know on our social media channels if we have a marlin coming in if everybody wants to come and watch that, but Saturday night is obviously the big one that everybody has to be in to see all the fish community get weighed and see who wins it this year."