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Chum On hauls in first big fish at Poco Bueno

July 14, 2017 at 10 p.m.
Updated July 15, 2017 at 1 a.m.

The Poco Bueno staff hoist a 551-pound blue marlin brought in by the Chum On boat crew. It was the first fish brought in during the  offshore portion of the Poco Bueno Fishing Tournament.

The Poco Bueno staff hoist a 551-pound blue marlin brought in by the Chum On boat crew. It was the first fish brought in during the offshore portion of the Poco Bueno Fishing Tournament.   Angela Piazza for The Victoria Advocate

PORT O'CONNOR - Chris Horn could hardly contain his excitement when his team Chum On approached the town's Fishing Center at this year's Poco Bueno Fishing Tournament.

For the first time in his five years of fishing in the event, Horn and his seven teammates finally had the blue marlin they desired in the offshore competition.

"We were stoked when we saw the marlin come up," said Horn, who is from Beach City. "All of the adrenaline rushed when we were fighting it. We couldn't be happier to finally land a fish during Poco Bueno, and we still have another day to fish."

Horn, 24, helped reel in the 109.5-inch blue marlin that weighed 551 pounds.

"When we hooked it, we didn't know what it was because it didn't surface," Horn said. "We finally saw how huge it was, and we all freaked out. It was crazy and a rush for sure."

Chum On's marlin was the first of three marlins that were expected to reach the shore during the first day of the tournament.

Team Dorado was expected to make landfall at 8:30 p.m. with an estimated 108-inch blue marlin.

Team Notorious was expected to haul in their catch after 11 p.m. with an estimated 106-inch blue marlin.

"The biggest challenge was getting it in the boat," said Chum On captain Rodney Devillier, who has fished in the tournament for five years. "It's all a team effort, and we are all in it together. The fish couldn't have landed without everybody helping."

The team's preparation was simple.

"We drink a lot of beer and get a lot of food," Devillier said. "Then we go fishing."

Team Knocker's Kevin Markham and Mason Markham hold first place in Master Angler in the inshore division with 29.20 points.

Team Shoalwater's Gene Boerm Jr. and Chris Taylor are currently in first in redfish with 15.80 points with a total weight of 8.45 pounds.

Just Fishing's Hal Hargis and Tommy Sulak lead with 20.70 points in trout.

"I've been fishing all of my life," said Mike Kopecinski, who has fished in Poco Bueno for 17 years. "I expect a lot of more fish to be caught. I love all of the people who donate, and it's wonderful to get out in nature."

The fish that are caught are donated to Fisherman's Chapel, which has received donations of fish from Poco Bueno since 1995.

The church is located at 311 Main Street.

"We feed about three to four families a week," said Erny McDonough, who is the pastor at Fisherman's Chapel. "There's hungry people in this community, and I've been doing this for 22 years. What I love the most about Poco Bueno is that we help people in need."

Poco Bueno owner Walter Fondren took over the tournament in 2009. His father started it in 1969.

"What I like the most is that it's still here in Port' O'Connor," Fondren said. "People come down to watch the weigh-in, and it's nice because a lot of people don't get a chance to see big fish. Everybody is cheering and having a great time. It's a lot of fun."


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