Orange Beach, Ala., – Alabama’s 53 miles of brief but beautiful coastline provide the state a prized location for seafood, but also for sport.
Known among top anglers as one of the country’s best sport fishing tournaments, The Blue Marlin Grand Championship takes place in Orange Beach, Ala. each summer. This year’s event, which sold out its entire 50 spots with teams from as far as Wilmington, Delaware and the British Virgin Islands, started its opening night with a bang – within a two-hour period, participants broke not one but two state records.
From the site of weigh-in location The Wharf, event organizers recognized Chris Ferrera and his family team from the Biloxi, Miss.-based team of Reel Fire for Ferrera’s epic landing of an 845.8-pound blue marlin. The winning title, which included a payout of $250,000, defeated the state’s prior record by 56 pounds. Reel Fire’s total payout for the tournament, including their second place finish for a tuna catch, totaled $304,000.
That record had itself only been set earlier that evening, by the 58 Viking Orange Beach-based team of Rising Sons, when angler Jeremy Powers boated a 789.8 pound blue marlin. His fish broke the 24-year-old Alabama blue marlin record. For their second place overall finish, the Rising Sons team received $123,385 in tournament awards and cash prizes.
Closing ceremonies took place at The Compleat Angler, part of the Baumhower family of restaurants. Of the festivities, Bob Baumhower, Alabama restaurateur, said: “The nationwide draw that this event brings to Orange Beach speaks for itself. Alabama’s growing reputation as a world-class destination for sport fishing is only second to our state’s seafood bounty. The skill level of these anglers is just unparalleled, and I think this tournament helps raise the profile of the fishing community at large, and the economic impact they represent.”
In addition, the tournament featured a catch and release division which represented a total of 38 billfish, including blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish.
Championship co-organizer Chris Miller said: “Anyone can say they boast the best in sport fishing, but when you look at the counts, weights, quality and abundance of the tuna, dolphin and wahoo caught during this year’s Blue Marlin Grand Championship, you see that in the Gulf of Mexico, we walk our talk.”
Donated fish from the tournament went to a faith-based non-profit called One Meal, that provides a weekly meal for the homeless, hungry and working poor in downtown Mobile.
About the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission
Established by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley by executive order signed in March of 2011, the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission (ASMC) was created to help provide advice, oversight, management and encouragement to the marketing of Alabama seafood. Led by Chris Blankenship, director of the Alabama Marine Resource Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the ASMC is comprised of volunteer members appointed by the Governor that includes fishermen, processors, charter boat operators, retailers, restaurant owners and others directly and indirectly related to the Alabama seafood industry.
Rebecca C. Walden
PR Manager, Alabama Gulf Seafood