It was billed as a tuna tournament, but the most eye-popping catch of the event was a mind-boggling blue marlin weighing nearly 1,000 pounds, as big as a compact car.
Catching a “grander” is perhaps the pinnacle of billfishing, and on Sept. 20 the crew of Reelin N Dealin boat hooked a fish few would have expected in a tournament headlining tuna.
The anglers were fishing in the Virginia Beach Tuna Tournament, some 70 miles off the coast when one of their trolling lines popped, and soon angler Reese Bowles settled into a 2.5-hour battle.
“Every time (the fish) kicked its tail, my whole body would go up and down,” Bowles told WAVY-TV in Portsmouth, Virginia. “So I had my buddy Bryce grab my belt loop so I wouldn’t go over.”
“Epic day,” wrote Zach Bowles, one of the boat’s crew on his Facebook page. A posted Facebook video on his page shows dozens of people at the marina waiting for the boat to dock.
At the dock, the fish weighed 944-pounds, just shy of the coveted “Grander” weight for blue marlin.
“Whoa, that’s a big deal,’” said Bowles.
“Congratulations to the entire crew of the ‘Reelin N Dealin’, great catch,” the tournament site stated on Facebook.
“We don’t get the fanfare of some of the places,” Reese Bowles said. “But we have the same fish and we have the same opportunities.”
While the massive fish that dwarfs anglers standing next to it, and is massive by any measure, it’s not the biggest blue marlin for Virginia. The record 1,093-pounds, 12-ounce Virginia blue marlin was caught in 1978 by Edward Alan Givens from Norfolk Canyon waters.
Remarkably, seven years to the day prior to Bowles catch, angler Steve Richardson on the Backlash boat landed a near “Grander” 914-pound blue Marlin on Sept. 20, 2015.