Biloxi, Mississippi – Owner/angler Nick Pratt, Capt. Chris Hood and the It Just Takes Time team swept the blue marlin divisions by weighing the only qualifier during the 2022 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, which concluded Sunday, June 12. The 763.6-pound blue gave the team an unprecedented win for the third year in a row. That feat has never been accomplished in the 26-year history of the Classic or in any other Gulf Coast big game tournaments. As a result, It Just Takes Time, a 72 Viking based in Orange Beach, Alabama, takes home a payout of $630,985 for the marlin tournament award, crew division and all marlin optional entry categories. The total prize purse for this year’s event was $1.36 million.
“We’re thankful to have gotten the opportunity one time, let alone three,” Pratt said after Sunday’s awards brunch. “I attribute it to great teamwork. We have excellent chemistry and it’s an excellent crew.” It Just Takes Time won the Classic in 2020 with a 570.2-pound marlin and again last year with a 793-pounder. With the three-peat, the boat has won more than $1.2 million in prize money the last three years.
Quantified, a 64 Spencer with Capt. Justin Drummond at the helm, had an impressive showing, too. Angler Cyler Pape wound in the top dolphin at 37 pounds and the team released three sailfish and three white marlin to score 1,500 points in the release division. With tournament and optional entries, the team earned a payout of $140,060.
The top release boat with four blue marlin on its ledger (2,400 points) was Ramble On, a 67 Billy Horton run by Capt. Shannon Allman. With an optional dolphin entry (25.9 pounds), the team won $120,170 for the tournament.
El Jefe boated the second-place yellowfin at 186.4 pounds. Jackson Stewart was the angler and Capt. Kirk Ogren runs the 70 Viking. That catch was worth $65,254.
Shock Wave, a 69 Spencer with Capt. Shelby Johnson on the flying bridge, scored three blue marlin in the release division, good for a check totaling $47,025 in optional entries.
Sunrise, a 53 Guthrie (Capt. Billy Blount) also had three blue marlin releases, along with the third-place dolphin (Chris King/32.8 pounds), crew division tuna (King/102.4 pounds) and a wahoo optional, good for a $42,065 payout.
Angler Jeff Tolbert and his team aboard NoName, a 49 Ricky Gillikin, whipped the third-place yellowfin that tipped the scales at 159.8 pounds, earning the Destin team $40,802.
Angler Drew Phillips won the tuna division after boating a 206.9-pound yellowfin tuna. Phillips was fishing aboard Second Wind, a 72 F&S run by Capt. Marlin Brown. The team earned $36,695 for that catch.
Rising Sons’ two optional entry tuna (52.1 and 50.9 pounds) paid out $34,650 for angler Evan Crochet and Capt. Toby Berthelot and the team. Rising Sons is a 58 Viking based in Orange Beach.
Capt. Dennis Bennett and the Destin team aboard Salt Shaker (58 Viking) capitalized on two blues and a white marlin release in the Catch and Release Division. That score earned the team $32,760.
Owner/angler Timothy O’Brien on Panhandler scored the second-place dolphin at 36.1 pounds. Capt. Nick Millsap was at the helm of the 63 Hatteras. With the tournament award and optional entries, that fish was worth $22,864.
Iona Louise was the first boat to weigh on Saturday and the 52.5-pound wahoo they hoisted aloft held on to take first place in the division. Capt. Clip Hopkins runs the 58 Hatteras and Christopher Nolan for the angler.
Other boats earning checks include Breathe Easy (Capt. Patrick Ivie), Skin Deep (Capt. Kyle Smith), Geaux Time (Capt. Zach Vallee), Reel Wicked (Capt. Steven Pixley), Miss Ma’am (Capt. Chase Johnson), Necessity (Capt. Shane Toole), A Work of Art (Capt. Jason Buck), Hooks Deep (Capt. David Phung), Relentless Pursuit (Capt. “Moose”), Crippler (Capt. Ben Cranford) and Mechanical Man (Capt. Ray Dunn).
Lainey James, fishing aboard Necessity, earned Top Lady Angler honors after releasing three blue marlin. Ten-year-old Tate Yancey (Miss Ma’am) was named the Top Junior Angler with 850 release points.
A total of 73 boats and 360 anglers competed in the 2022 MGCBC. The fleet caught 56 blue marlin, eight white marlin and three sailfish. Only one blue marlin was weighed. In the game fish categories, 29 yellowfin tuna were weighed, along with eight dolphin and five wahoo.
“I’d like to thank all our great teams, sponsors and my staff for making this year such a memorable event in spite of tough economic conditions and higher fuel prices,” said Tournament Director Bobby Carter. “We look forward to seeing everyone again on the Mississippi Gulf Coast next summer for more exciting big-game action.”
The 27th annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic will be held June 5-11, 2023, at the host Golden Nugget Biloxi.