Florida team lands 800-pound marlin, wins $450,000 payday at fishing tournament

Credit: Win McNamee

Credit: Win McNamee

A Florida fishing team landed a nearly 800-pound marlin and a $450,000 payout after winning a three-day fishing tournament.

It took about 47 minutes for members of the Reel Addiction fishing team to land the 796-pound game fish during the 22nd annual Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

"It wasn't a big explosion; the bait was under the water so we never saw it," Chase Pate told the News Journal. "It wasn't until we got close and Zac Taylor (another fisherman) got it on the wire that we really could see it good and could grasp how big of a fish it was. I could only reel to a certain point, and then Zac, the mate, had to grab the last 30 feet of line to pull it in. So once he did that, it was literally hand-to-hand combat with that thing."

The team landed the catch hours before the Saturday evening deadline, winning a $450,705 payout, the largest in tournament history. A total $2.2 million of prize money was available, according to tournament organizers.

"The fish went absolutely crazy when we got the gaff in there," Pate said. "It had been 30 minutes and it never jumped until that point, so it had a lot of energy. It was 10 minutes of five grown men hanging onto this thing. Everything we had."

The Billfish Classic, based in Biloxi, Mississippi, is the largest offshore fishing tournament in the Gulf of Mexico, organizers said.

"It's definitely the best fishing trip I've ever had in a tournament," Pate said. "Out of the 117 boats in the tournament, I mean, only half of them really have a chance at winning. The best anglers and fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico were there this weekend."

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