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New Poco Bueno winner declared; disqualified team objects

By By ALBERT ALVARADO
July 18, 2010 at 2:18 a.m.

Norman Michael Walker Jr., right, talks with his father, Norman Michael Walker Sr., after catching the blue marlin.

Controversy capped this year's high-stakes Poco Bueno fishing tournament.

The tournament committee stripped the Marlin Majic of its 2010 Blue Marlin Championship this weekend, giving the Whap Bam Boom team the tournament title.

Jordan Adams of Marlin Majic contended Sunday that his team didn't break any rules when it brought in a 476.5-pound blue marlin and the committee is not justified in disqualifying his team.

"It was a sloppy catch, but it was a legal sloppy catch," Adams said.

The controversy stems over when Adams' team gaffed the fish Friday and what is considered a catch by International Game Fish Association rules.

A gaff is a large iron hook attached to a pole or handle and used to land large fish.

While some competitors claim the Marlin Majic gaffed the fish in the water, Adams said the fish was gaffed on the boat, then jumped off the boat and back into the water, where the crew gaffed the fish a second time.

According to IGFA rules, once a fish is gaffed on a boat, it is considered a catch, Adams said, and he contends the committee made a ruling based on a situation not covered in the IGFA rule book.

"The IGFA rules and the tournament rules say nothing about what happened; it says once you gaff a fish, it's a caught fish," Adams said.

Since the Marlin Majic was disqualified, first place in the tournament went to Whap Bam Boom, who brought in a 465-pound blue marlin.

Port Lavaca native Michael Walker of the eight-member Whap Bam Boom had mixed feelings about the win because Adams is his friend.

Big money is at stake. Organizers said this year's total cash prize reached $1.37 million.

When asked about the amount of money the Whap Bam Boom won, Walker said he was "pretty sure" it was $500,000. He said the team won 51 percent of the total prize.

"I don't want to say bittersweet, but something like it because Jordan Adams is a friend of mine and my heart goes out to the guy," Walker said. "Jordan was honest about how they caught the fish. Jordan was a great sport - he came up to me first and shook my hand and said congratulations."

Attempts to contact Whap Bam Boom's captain, Nate Forbes, were unsuccessful as his voice mailbox was full.

Adams said he doesn't have a problem with Walker or any of the other competitors.

"I got no beef with anybody. It's the tournament committee that did us wrong, not the Whop Bam Boom," Adams said.

Tournament committee members could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Adams said he had a problem with the decision and how his team was informed of the disqualification.

The Marlin Majic heard it was disqualified over the boat radio Saturday morning, Adams said, and he called a friend back on land to try to set up a meeting with the committee.

"We were the last in line to hear that we were disqualified," Adams said.

Adams was concerned that the committee disqualified his team before it had a chance to hear his team's side of the story.

"We were actually disqualified before we had a meeting with the committee," Adams said. "Judging on just complaints and hearsay they disqualified us before, they even talked to us. That's just crazy."

Adams said the committee told the crew it spoke with someone "high up" in the IGFA regarding the situation Saturday, but organizers wouldn't tell the team who it spoke with or give details about the conversation.

Adams wants something more solid than an assurance by the committee that his team committed an infraction.

"Yeah, someone can say something, but put it in writing. We want to see it in writing," Adams said. "They couldn't give us anything, any reason. It's a gray area. After the fact when a fish is gaffed there is no more rules after that."

Tournament inspectors looked at the fish Friday to make sure the wounds were consisted with a gaff wound, Adams said, and the fish passed inspection. Since the fish passed inspection and there is nothing in the IGFA rule book about the situation, the team didn't feel a need to share its story Friday, Adams said.

It is unlikely the Marlin Majic and its members will enter the Poco Bueno again despite the tournament's prominence and tradition.

"I honestly don't think any of us are going to fish it anymore. We're pretty upset about the whole deal," Adams said.

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