Tabor lands 716-pounder; claims $266,000 top prize in Orange Beach, Ala.
Sometimes the little guys do win. And win big.
With the average Blue Marlin Grand Championship boat size exceeding his by 20 feet, J.J. Tabor and his four buddies — competing aboard a 37-foot Freeman center console catamaran — did the improbable.
Tabor managed to whip a big marlin after a fight lasting more than five hours. It then took the crew another half-hour to somehow drag it aboard. By the time the behemoth was iced down, Double J had to make the run back to Orange Beach to make the 7 p.m. Saturday deadline. They had 300 miles to cover.
“I didn’t think we’d make it,” Tabor said afterwards. “It was a little hairy for a while. We stopped to get fuel at Port Eads and the pump was broke. So we had to run 20 more miles to Venice to refuel before heading on. But we made it.”
Double J actually made the deadline with time to spare but had to endure the agonizing wait while other boats weighed their catch. When Weigh-master Craig Martin finally made the announcement—716.6 pounds—the crowd of 15,000 onlookers erupted into a resounding chorus of cheers and applause.
The marlin — the biggest J.J. had ever caught — was captured on 80-pound test line with a live blackfin tuna used as bait.
“We were looking for smaller fish, going for catch-and-release points when we ran across this one,” Tabor said. “It was an amazing, unbelievable catch, especially at this tournament.”
Double J ran an average 53 miles per hour on the way back to Orange Beach. For the long weekend, the team covered 891 miles of water in the open center console.
“This just proves that anyone can compete,” Tabor said. “You just have to get out there, put your time in and fish hard.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Capt. Dave Lear originally submitted this report, which has been edited, for the official webiste of the Blue Marlin Grand Championship. The event was held at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Ala.