The 39th New Orleans Invitational Billfish Tournament was held out of Venice last weekend (June 17-18), and a total of 23 billfish were caught, tagged and released by the 24 participating boat crews.

This tournament is regarded as the tournament that put Gulf of Mexico big-game fishing on the map and inspired the many offshore tournaments being held currently across the region.

The fleet found a beautiful rip-line about 54-miles southeast of South Pass and conditions that were conducive to great fishing.

The first-place team award went to Chris Hall's "Fog Cutter" for tagging and releasing two blue marlin and one white marlin. Second Place went to Lee Welch's "GZ Girl" for tagging and releasing two blue marlin first, narrowly beating out the third-place team "Lady Lab" that also had two blues.

The Top Angler went to Cameron Simmons Jr. on the "Tia II" for tagging and releasing a blue marlin and a white marlin.

"I have fished this Invitational for eight years hoping to win," the 23-year-old Cameron said.

Top Lady Angler was awarded to Gail Gele' on the "Lady Lab" for tagging and releasing a blue marlin with her husband Jimmy Gele' as captain.

The Top Youth Angler was Robbert Green on the "Producer" for tagging and releasing a blue marlin and catching a 133-pound yellowfin tuna. This was Green's first blue marlin, making it a very special and memorable catch for him.

The full list of awards include:

Individual Awards
• Judge Leander H. Perez Memorial Trophy (1st Place Billfish
)
Cameron Simmons Jr., "Tia II"
Tagged and released one blue marlin and one white marlin – 650 points on time

• Second Place Billfish Angler
Dax Byrd, "Conundrum"
Tagged and released one blue marlin and one white marlin – 650 points

• Third Place Billfish Angler
Gerard Welch, "GZ Girl"
Tagged and released one blue marlin – 500 points

• Top Overall Angler(billfish and weighed points)
Cameron Simmons Jr., "Tia II"
Tagged and released one blue marlin and one white marlin – 650 points

• Top Lady Angler
Gail Gele', "Lady Lab"
Tagged and released one blue marlin – 500 points

• Top Youth Angler
Robbert Green "Producer"
Tagged and released one blue marlin and a 133-pound yellowfin tuna – 633 points

• Blue Marlin Award
Gerard Welch, "GZ Girl"
Tagged and released one blue marlin – 500 points

• Sailfish Tag and Release
Ken Brister "Uptick"
Tagged and released one sailfish

• White Marlin Tag and Release
Walter Gibbs "First Choice"
Tagged and released one white marlin


TEAM AWARDS
• First Place Team
"Fog Cutter"
Tagged and released two blue marlin and one white marlin – 1,150 points
Team members: Chris T. Hall, Michael Hall, Tony Taylor, Chris J. Hall, Normand Loustalot, Daryl Arnold

• Second Place Team "GZ Girl"
Tagged and released two blue marlin – 1,000 points on time
Team members: Lee Welch, Patrick Welch, Gerard Welch, Peter Bertucci, Carl Wildell, Brent Johnson

• Third Place Team "Lady Lab"
Tagged and released two blue marlin – 1,000 points
Team members: Gail Gele', Nick Cambre, Steve Galjour, Patrick Murphy, Matt Thomas, Jimmy Gele'

INDIVIDUAL FISH AWARDS
• Largest Yellowfin Tuna
Walter Gibbs, "First Choice" – 204 pounds

• Largest Wahoo
Bo Tichenor, "Miss Michelle" – 23 pounds

• Largest Dolphin
Mike Akiu, "First Choice" – 54 pounds

TOURNAMENT TOTALS
• Blue marlin tagged and released – 9
• White marlin tagged and released – 11
• Sailfish tagged and released – 3