The old saying, ‘it ain’t over till it’s over’, sure holds true in sports fishing. The angling team aboard Dixie Devil, a 46-foot custom Warren O’Neil captained by Jeff Futch of Sebring, Florida, thought for sure they’d be the 2007 winners of the Bahamas White Marlin Open. After all, they had racked up 750 points, 150 more than their closest competitor, Bodacious, a 70-foot Hatteras with a team aboard out of Atlanta.
But with 35 minutes remaining in the event held April 16 to 19 out of Treasure Cay, Juel Marie hooked up a double-header of white marlin. Counting the white marlin release for 300 points by the Juel Marie team on day two, the quick release of one of the double header whites brought them even with Bodacious. The release of the second white gave the Tennessee-based team aboard the Capt. Dugan McLaughlin-helmed 54-foot Hatteras team a total of 900 tournament-winning points.
Dixie Devil, with three blue marlin, three sailfish, and one white marlin release, earned second place Best Boat, while Bodacious, unable to add any points the last day, finished third.
This three-day, light tackle, all-release tournament sponsored by Hatteras Yachts and MarineMax Yachts & Brokerage saw a fleet of 24 boats entered with anglers releasing a total of 30 billfish: nine white marlin, nine blue marlin, and 12 sailfish.
Release points were awarded using time and date-stamped digital images to validate the release time and the species of the billfish. Affidavits signed by all participants fishing on the team further confirmed that the fish was released in accordance with tournament rules.
In the fun fish category, the largest dolphin trophy went to the boat Mistress for its 61-pounder, and anglers aboard the Fishermen Joe-Kel reeled in the largest tuna, a 38-foot yellowfin.
If winning the tournament wasn’t enough, angler Jason ‘Tiny’ Wolcott scored the top prize in the much-anticipated 2nd Annual Tabasco Recipe Contest, the highlight of the social activities, with his Tabasco Dolphin Rollup.