11-year-old steals the show at the Sonny Johnson Memorial Fishing Tournament

Team Cheeseburger won the team billfish prize thanks in large part to 11-year-old Cahill Marlone (front, center), who landed a blue marlin to push his team to the lead.

Young angler anchors win at Mississippi Gulf Coast Big Game Fishing Club event.

An 11-year-old angler boated one of two billfish that earned the top prize in the Sonny Johnson Memorial Fishing Tournament this weekend (Aug. 11-14).

Cahill Marlone wrestled the nice blue to the boat on his very first marlin trip, and that added enough points to a white marlin caught earlier by Ron Ladner for the Team Cheeseburger crew to take the team billfish win in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Big Game Fishing Club tag-and-release event.

Team Cheeseburger – staffed by the crew from Biloxi’s Shaggy’s Beach Bar & Grill – won with 1,150 points, just edging out the Pascagoula-based Sweet Liberty’s 100-pound white and 400-pound blue marlin.

“We had a great time”, Moss Point attorney Nathan Bosio from Team Sweet Liberty told MS-Sportsman.com. “It’s not every day you catch two marlin.”

Team Liberty walked away with second place over all with 1,100 points.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Big Game Fishing Club’s billfish tournaments are all tag-and-release events, and the club works closely with The Billfish Foundation and NOAA Fisheries to encourage and promote big game fishing as a source of scientific data that is essential to the survival of all maritime species.

The event featured only billfish, wahoo, tuna and dolphin, and 17 of 60 registered anglers posted points in the three-day event but all had lots of excitement.

About $17,000 in cash and prizes were handed out to the lucky fishermen.

In the tuna category, things were off to an early start as Team Vixen’s Shane Loper, Ed Francis and Chet Noclalski landed a cart full of nice yellowfin that took an early clean sweep of the leaderboard.

Teams My Girls and Times Change nipped at the heels of the Vixen. Success ultimately eluded the Vixen crew, however, as John McAdams from Team Blue Eyes landed a 107.60-pound yellowfin to walk away with first place.

The wahoo were in hiding at the dockside bar of the same name, with few of brought to the scales.

Local Joe Catalanoto from his Joe Cat Express landed the winner at 29 pounds even. At the end of the day he had a little competition from Ken Cook from Team Heads N Tails, but overall, ‘Joe Cat’ retained his throne.

Dolphin made a brief appearance, and several were brought to the scales.

Team Times Change, in addition to their showing in the tuna category, brought in the top two dolphins for the event. Angler Matt Crawford, with his 24.80 flip-flop, stood at the top of the leaderboard after the smoke cleared.

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