A Louisiana woman reeled in the biggest prize in the 2015 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic tournament in Biloxi, catching a weekend-best 587.3-pound blue marlin to take a big bite out of the event’s $1.14 million purse.
Not bad for a teenager, eh?
Katie Gonsoulin, 18, of Houma, fishing aboard her dad’s 70-foot Viking Convertible, needed three hours to beat the big fish but the hourly pay isn’t bad.
The fish helped the Done Deal earn $236,050 in the 19th annual event at the Golden Nugget Casino and the neighboring Point Cadet Harbor. It was the second time that Done Deal has won the MGCBC’s top prize, among its many wins in blue water tournaments.
“No, this never gets old,” Capt. Jason Buck said when asked about winning another event. “This is what it’s all about. I attribute our success to a good, hard-working team and an aggressive owner.”
Jon Gonsoulin, Katie’s dad, also had the top crew for the event, which was held under ideal weather conditions.
“We had just put the baits in the water when it bit,” Katie said. “It was about 10 o’clock. It hit the deck three hours and 10 minutes later. I was tired. I’m sore … all over.”
Katie’s fish measured 114 inches long, but news quickly spread that there was another 114-incher on another boat in the weigh-in line at Saturday’s closing.
“We heard on the way in that the Born2Run had one about the same size,” said Jon Gonsoulin of Houma, La. “Just measuring it and talking about it, there’s no way to know how big it is. It has to be settled on the scales.”
When Born2Run finally reached the weigh dock, its 114-inch marlin weighed 575 pounds, which took second place for angler Dana Foster.
“Twelve pounds is close when you’re blue marlin fishing,” said the elder Gonsoulin. “We were watching Born2Run weigh in. Obviously we were elated when we heard 575. We’ve been tournament fishing for quite a few years. We’ve had our share of success.
“Everybody who does this type of fishing has times when they do well. Anybody can be at the right place at the right time and have their moment. To see Katie fight that fish was wonderful. It was definitely a proud moment for me.”
Scott McKnight, aboard You Never Know, had the third-place marlin at 517.2 pounds.
Carib was the top boat in Catch & Release with 1,801 points, followed closely by Mollie with 1,800 points. The Done Deal was third.
Dan St. Gemain, aboard Rising Sons, claimed the top tuna prize with a 161.6-pounder, followed by Benny Whitehead on Gearjammer at 153.8 and Mike Castle on MS Castle at 152.4.
A Work of Art’s Stephen Chapman had the top wahoo at 63.6 pounds, followed by a 54.2-pound caught by Jennifer Attaway on Controlled Chaos. Cut N Run’s Carrie Gerber was third at 47.7 pounds.
The biggest dolphin was weighed in by Lee Michael Norris on Reel Fuelish at 39.6 pounds. Dan Hauser, aboard Conundrum, was second at 37.2 pounds, followed by Jerry Long on Mollie at 36.4 pounds.
A total of 48 billfish were released over 2½ days of fishing, including 22 blue marlin, six whites, two sailfish and one unknown billfish. Forty-one boats brought fish to the dock, including seven blue marlins, 41 tuna, 25 dolphin and 12 wahoo.
“It was another fantastic event made possible by our great teams, wonderful sponsors and tournament crew,” said MGCBC director Bobby Carter. “We’re glad everyone could share our slice of paradise this week and we look forward to welcoming y’all back for our 20th anniversary next June.”