When word got out that the Orange Beach boat Best Trait was heading to Orange Beach Marina with a giant blue marlin on board, a crowd quickly gathered at the marina to watch the weigh-in.
As the 55-foot Viking sportfishing boat, owned by Scott Crump of Jasper, arrived at the marina, a crowd approached the dock to catch a glimpse of the big fish. Chris Vecsey, a Sam’s Tackle fishing tackle salesman and seasoned angler, saw the fish and turned to my friend Jay Gunn, also a captain with both inshore and offshore experience. I asked, “Do you think that fish will go for 1,000 pounds?”
Gunn replied, “That fish will blow 1,000 pounds out of the water.”
Indeed, it was. After a delay to ensure it was weighed on a certified scale, the official weight of this giant blue marlin was 1,145.6 pounds, which could be an Alabama and Gulf of Mexico record. The Best Trait marlin, measuring 145 inches in length, easily surpassed the Alabama state record of 851.9 pounds, caught by Ginger Myers in 2020. The Gulf Coast record was set in Mississippi in 2002 by Barry Carr with 1,054 pounds.
Before a marlin can become an official record, it must go through a certification process by the Alabama Department of Conservation’s Division of Marine Resources.
Family friend Scott “Scooter” Anderson was an angler who reeled in a fish in two hours, but he said it wasn’t easy.
“I still don’t fully understand it,” said Anderson, 32, from Houston, Texas. Anderson said he has been fishing basically his entire life. “This trip really didn’t go as planned. I jumped off two fish that were probably in the 500-pound class. The bite was slow that afternoon, so at the main (feeding) time that afternoon, We have repositioned ourselves.”
Unfortunately, a pod of dolphins moved in around the rig they were fishing, and Captain Chris Mowad was forced to fish the Chevron rig 11 miles away at the Blind Face rig, located about 260 miles southeast of New Orleans at a depth of 6,500 feet. It was decided to move to the deepest rig in the company.
“Once we got to the rig, Captain Chris marked a few fish in the first 20 minutes and everything looked good,” Anderson said. “After Chris marked the fish, we put in some live bait (blackfin perch). Chris tracked the bait with sonar and was able to observe the marlin eating the tuna. has become history.”
Marlins are known for their acrobatic jumps, but the next question was whether such a large fish could actually jump completely out of the water.
“Oh yeah, she got completely out twice,” Anderson said. “The only thing was she was jumping towards the rig. We were worried she was going to get into the rig.”
Fortunately, Mowad steered the boat away from the marlin and Anderson settled into his fighting chair for a long fight that didn’t really go well. An hour into the battle, the marlin died and began to sink.
“I felt it starting to sink,” Anderson said. He is obsessed with marlin fishing and admitted he has traveled to the Azores, Cape Verde and Australia to pursue the sport. “I had to tighten the drag and winch it up. I was fighting a dead weight. It was definitely tough. I’ve never caught a fish that big before, so I was wondering if it was unusual for a fish to die that quickly. I don’t know. I’ve been all over the place chasing big marlin. It’s a passion of mine. I never thought it would come out of the Gulf of Mexico.”
A combination of Mowad’s boat handling and Anderson’s winching on a Shimano Tiagra 130 reel finally brought this behemoth to the surface.
“When it jumped, I thought it was 600 or 700 pounds,” Mowad said. “When I finally saw it behind the boat, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a big fish.’
Anderson added: “We were shocked when we pulled up. We didn’t know it was that big. We knew she was big, but not that big.”
Fortunately, Best Trait has a tuna door in the transom, but the boat’s crew was still overwhelmed when trying to pull the marlin into the boat.
“We had to call another boat for help,” Anderson said. “Chris had friends by the rig and a few of them jumped on our boat and helped us pull it in. There were five people on the boat, but it took a while to pull it in. We needed seven people.”
Since word of the big fish spread, the Best Trait crew has been flooded with congratulations from all over the world.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” Anderson said. “But we will continue to catch blue marlin as usual.”
In fact, the boat set sail that night, refueled, and then returned to the Gulf.
“We don’t get as much weather forecast as we do now,” Anderson said. “We’re taking advantage of that.”
The boat’s owner, Mr. Crump, who was unable to make the record-setting trip due to commitments in Jasper, said in May 2023, when the Viking was purchased and named, that he and his son, He said his sons-in-law have transitioned from a type of gulf fishing to marlin fishing. The ship’s name is a combination of the initials of his family: his wife Beth, Scott, son Taylor Robinson, daughters Abby and Isla, and son Tyler.
“Before I bought this boat, I had some center consoles that I used for deep drops for grouper and snapper,” Crump said.
Two years before health issues prompted major changes, Crump was working as a Toyota dealer in Jasper.
“I told my dad and the doctors that I was going to sell myself, retire and enjoy life,” he said. “I told my dad I was going fishing. I think he underestimated what I was talking about.”
Since being named Viking in May, the boat has caught 74 marlin, including six on its record-setting voyage.
“We burned a lot of fuel, but we had the ball,” Crump said. “We have put 800 hours into this boat. We store the boat at Sportsman’s Harbor Marina. If you store your boat at the marina, you can purchase fuel for a fee.” We estimate we saved $25,000.
“We participated in several tournaments and came close to winning. My wife and her sister took second place in a tournament.”
Crump credits Mowad and companion Addison Gilley for the success of this boat fishing adventure.
“Captain. Chris is a solid fisherman,” Crump said. “He doesn’t just run around and throw things. He studies ocean currents, wind, and weather, and he’s also good with boat sonar. Our buddy Addison is as good as they come. Excellent. We have had very little loss of fish this year. We are in the running to be the boat that has tagged the most marlin in the Gulf.
“Chris and Addison are like one big family. We’re grateful to have them.”
David Reiner is an award-winning author who has spent 25 years covering Alabama’s great outdoors.former outdoor editor of mobile press registrationhe writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.