Team headed for Poco Bueno lands Texas-record-setting blue marlin

Alexandria  Alejandro By Alexandria Alejandro

July 13, 2014 at 2:13 a.m.
Updated July 14, 2014 at 2:14 a.m.

From left to right, Michael Fitzpatrick, Jeff Owen, captain Kevin Deerman, owner George Gartner, Cameron Plaag, Colin Ocker, Ruben Ramos and Richard Richardson stand by their catch.

From left to right, Michael Fitzpatrick, Jeff Owen, captain Kevin Deerman, owner George Gartner, Cameron Plaag, Colin Ocker, Ruben Ramos and Richard Richardson stand by their catch.

This one will surely last a lifetime.

Make that a legacy.

Aboard the Legacy, the Houston-based fishing team broke the Texas state saltwater fish record by reeling in a 972.7-pound blue marlin Friday morning in Port Aransas. The behemoth, which measured at 137.5 inches, was weighed in at the Rockport Harbor.

James Farrow had held the record since 1988, when he caught an 876.5-pound fish in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The team was competing at the Bastante John Uhr Memorial Billfish Tournament, which began Wednesday and ended Saturday. They took first place overall and first place in billfish division.

"It's just surreal," said Capt. Kevin Deerman, 50, of Galveston. "We still can't believe it. It's pretty amazing."

Deerman was aboard the 56 Viking boat with owner George Gartner, of Houston; Galveston's Jeff Owen and Cameron Plaag; Corpus Christi's Michael Fitzpatrick; and Houston's Richard Richardson, Colin Ocker and Ruben Ramos. They are friends and co-workers.

"It's still sinking in," said Tami Noling, the creator and director of the 3-year-old tournament. "We're all on cloud nine. It's just something that we never expected to happen here. Most of us have been fishing for years all over the world, and we didn't expect this."

Deerman said they were about 130 miles out from Port Aransas about 7 a.m. Friday when Richardson, the angler, came face-to-face with the beast.

"It took 40 minutes to get the fish in the boat, and it took all of us.

"The fight lasted 20 minutes," said Deerman. "The fish had a series of jumps out of the water. It would stay down deep for 15 minutes at a time and then would come back to surface."

They used a Shimano 130 rod and live tuna as bait.

Deerman said they knew the fish would weigh in at more than 900 pounds. Little did they know it would be one for the record books.

"It's an awesome feeling," said Deerman, who said the team won about $40,000 of the cash purse along with plenty of trophies.

Last year, the crew won the billfish division and took third overall with their 561-pound catch. It was the first blue marlin ever weighed at Rockport, according to Noling.

The tournament is held in memory of Capt. John Uhr, and money is raised for the American Cancer Society, Wounded Warrior Project, The Texas Maritime Museum and The Humane Society.

The tournament has three divisions: redfish, kingfish and billfish.

Noling said there were 11 billfish boats, 19 fish boats and 18 bay boats that competed this year.

As for the fish, Deerman said, some of it was cooked at the tournament, and part of it was donated to charity.

The crew will have the bill, tail and fins mounted.

Things aren't quite over for Deerman and his crew just yet.

The team is competing in the Poco Bueno Fishing Tournament in Port O'Connor. It's a summer, invitation-only, family-run fishing tournament in which competitors set off in search of big fish, mostly blue marlin. It begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday.

The team will then compete in the Lone Star Shootout, which also will be in Port O'Connor. In August, they're headed to Port Aransas in the Texas Legends Billfish Tournament, and then the Texas Women's Anglers Tournament.



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