Panama City Beach / SANDESTIN – Chip Temple’s first major fishing tournament experience is one he’ll never forget.
In an article from the News Herald…
An admitted outsider when it comes to fishing’s biggest stages, Temple hooked, battled and helped reel in a 714.7-pound, 121.5-inch blue marlin to help the crew of the Jasper Time shatter the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic record
“We fought about 100 runs from her,” said Temple, who battled the marlin for eight hours before the crew finally hauled it on board.
The crowd spilled down the Baytowne Marina’s pier in anticipation to see the massive fish hoisted up by its tail fin and weighed, a process that took three people. When the total weight flashed on the screen, cheers and cries of disbelief erupted from the crowd.
The marlin beat out the previous record of 692.6 pounds set in 2006 and far outpaced the 566.8-pound average for the tourney winner.
The record-setting catch cruised to first place and will earn the crew at least $167,000 in prize money. The 67-boat event carried a total purse of $1.3 million.
The five-man team consisted of owner Mark Wallace, captain Tommy Bradon and mates Ed Gobel, Matthew Pearson and Temple.
“That’s a once-in-a-lifetime fish,” Pearson said. “That’s not one you catch every day, that’s for sure. That’s a fish you dream of your whole life. Especially in a tournament and getting to bring it back and show it off to everybody.”
And show off they did.
Wallace said the 160-foot Jasper Time, which harbors at the Marabella Yacht Club in Destin (40 miles west of Panama City Beach), was almost 130 miles into the Gulf of Mexico when they finally hooked the marlin at about 1:30 p.m. on Friday.
The crew had started casting at daybreak, and when the big fish bit it was Stockbridge, Ga. native Temple’s turn in the fishing chair. The chair is mounted on the back deck of the boat and the angler hooks into the massive fishing pole.
With Temple, 33, all but locked into his position, he endured an eight-hour battle with the marlin before the crew finally hauled it in at about 9:30 p.m. on Friday night. They rode overnight back to Sandestin.
“Yeah, I was kind of tired,” Temple said. “But we were all pleased with the effort.”
The Jasper Time crew reeled in the marlin with just five men on board, which Wallace said was a small group for this kind of event.
While Temple spent eight hours in the chair physically attached to the 80 Wide fishing reel, one mate tended the line and another stood behind Temple to pivot the chair as needed. Wallace filmed the event and Bradon ran the boat.
“You don’t have any back-up,” Wallace said. “Normally you have at least two anglers and a film man and two crew plus a captain, so we were a little shorthanded.”
The crew happened upon the marlin at Lloyd’s Ridge deep out to sea, which was where the crew purposefully headed following Thursday’s 7 p.m. start time after satellite reports showed favorable fishing conditions there. A break between blue and green water pushed water currents together, which made for plentiful fishing, Wallace said.
“We were right where we wanted to be,” Pearson said.
And when the marlin bit on a tuna line, the lightest gear the team had, Wallace knew the team had a battle on their hands.
“We knew we were in trouble,” Wallace said. “We saw her way off, and we saw her come out of the water one time; that’s the only time she jumped. And then she just stayed down the rest of the time, so we couldn’t put a lot of heat on her, so we just had to slowly, eight hours later, work her up.”
The fish latched onto a 200-pound leader with a circle hook, which caught the crew by surprise as they were looking for much lighter tuna with that line. To catch the fish, the team used a naked ballyhoo rig, or a large lure without a skirt attached. Wallace said crews usually need leaders at least twice as heavy to reel in marlin of that size.
The process of getting the massive fish into the boat would have been laborious even if the crew hadn’t just been wrestling with it for eight hours. After Temple’s fishing acumen helped get the fish up on the back door of the boat, the remaining four crewmembers wrapped a bloodied t-shirt around its bill and hauled it on board, making for a happy but exhausted night’s sleep.
“They all got together, and a lot of adrenaline and a couple of heave ho’s and pulled it up,” Temple said.