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The 3rd annual Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic, presented by Gulf Coast Hatteras and Hatteras Yachts is now in the record books. Inclement weather at the start of the week left us with 39 boats, fishing for a total available purse of $471,723.53.

Tuesday, May 29, the festivities kicked off with a Dock Party, hosted by the good people at Venice Marina at their new Crawgators Bar and Grill. Loads of good food, along with Tommy Bahama Rum, Mango Rum Punch, Woodford Reserve Bourbon were all a big hit. The Tournament welcomed new Diamond Level Sponsors Pacific Fins Resort from Guatemala and new Gold Level Sponsor Night Vision Technologies displaying their wares on Ambient NAV monitors. Thanks go to Peter Meagher of Ambient NAV for turning the entire marina wireless and that great cellphone signal booster.

Wednesday, with the winds whipping from the East, the registration continued, followed by a Captains Meeting and ffestive Kick-Off Party, co-sponsored by our friends at LeBeouf Brothers Towing and Southern-Scrap Recycling. The event was a big hit with Boiled Shrimp, Creole Jambalaya, and the best Bread Pudding in the world; courtesy of Gold Level Sponsor, Acme Oyster House. Thanks go to Brown-Forman, William Grant and Sons, along with Republic National Distributing for sponsoring our Open Bars—no drink tickets here!

Thursday, May 31, with the winds laying down somewhat, Gulf Coast Hatteras and Hatteras Yachts sponsored the Hatteras Hangover Clinic featuring TABASCO Bloody Marys and strong New Orleans style coffee. A fine south Louisiana tradition known as the Blessing of the Fleet was conducted by Father Jerry from Port Sulphur.

With fishing starting at 12:01 am, Friday morning, the phones and radios started ringing with Swordfish releases by both the 45’ Cabo, "Bushwhacker" and the 50’ Viking, "Pass-It-On". As daylight broke on June 1, the day after the Full Moon, the Blue Marlin were biting with multiple hook-ups and releases being called in. Then, at 11:30am, the "Bush Whacker" continued their good luck, boating a 104 inch Blue Marlin, with Darryl Elias as the lucky angler. The 104 inch Blue weighed in at 401.8 pounds and would hold up to take home first place, paying the crew of the Bush Whacker $68,823.53 from the Base Entry payouts.

Friday continued to see some remarkable fish, with the 61’ Weaver, "Tar Baby" weighing in a whopper of a Wahoo at 90.8 pounds, followed shortly by a 169.4 pound Yellowfin Tuna caught by Vincent Pisciotta fishing onboard the 59’ Bertram, "Miss Mary IV". Also weighing in on Friday was Matt Jackson with a 132.0 pound Yellowfin Tuna fishing on the 56’ Viking "Done Deal", with Owner/Captain/Sponsor Jon Gonsoulin at the helm.

Saturday, June 2 the fish continued to bite with more hook-ups, spit-hooks, and releases, along with numerous nice meat fish. The 30’ Albemarle, Balancing Act had several local boys from Venice Marina weighing in 48.8 pound Dolphin, caught by Bill Delabar, which captured 1st Place in the Dolphin division. 2nd Place Dolphin went to Dr. David Coy at 45.8 pounds, fishing on the 55' Hatteras, "Surprise", Captained by Frank Frelich, with third place going to Stephen Brierre, fishing onboard the 52’ Hatteras, "Murphys Law", Owned and Captained by Murphy Foster, with a 40.6 pound Dolphin.

1st Place in our Tuna division stayed with the crew of the "Miss Mary IV" at 169.4 pounds, with 2nd Place going to Jeryet Bourg, fishing on the 60’ Hatteras, "First Choice", weighing in at 158.2 pounds, with Matt Jackson from the "Done Deal" hanging on to 3rd Place with his 132.0 pound Yellowfin.

A whopping 90.8 pound wahoo stole the show in the Wahoo division with angler Brett Armstrong on the rod fishing aboard the 61’ Weaver, "Tar Baby." 2nd Place went to Gordon Moss, fishing on the 44’ Topaz, "High Risk", weighing in at 76.4 pounds, with 3rd Place going to Jeremy Steele on the 48’ Viking, "Steele Away", weighing in at 63.4 pounds.

The Tag/Release Division was won by the crew of the 48’ Cabo, "Revolution", from Houma, Louisiana, with three Blue Marlin releases, Captained by Jermie Ball and Team Leader Heinke Trapp. They are now qualified to fish the IGFA Offshore Championship next year in Cabon San Lucas. Second Place in the Tag/Release Division went to the crew of the 56’ Viking, "Reel Addiction", with two Blue Marlin releases, followed by the crew of the 50’ Viking, "Pass-It-On", with three Swordfish releases. All Tag/Release Division winners received gorgeous inlaid teak step boxes from our Diamond Level Sponsor, Release Marine.

Top Youth Angler went to 15 year old Grayson LaBorde, fishing on the 40’ Cabo, "Zephyr", with his first Blue Marlin release (and they even got a tag in it, then Grayson got his swim for his first Blue Marlin). Grayson was awarded a Top Youth Angler trophy, along with a portable Sony Playstation, and numerous other sponsor gifts.
Top Female Angler went to Lainey Jones for the 2nd year in a row, fishing on the 60’ Bonner, "Big Adventure", with one Blue Marlin release along with numerous Yellowfin Tuna and Dolphin also weighed in.

The Top Billfish Boat this year went to the crew of the "Revolution". They are our first winners of the C. R. Bob Potter Memorial Trophy. Mr. Potter was one of our Founding Sponsors and passed away last year on June 9. Mr. Potter will be missed dearly, but his smile and character will be forever remembered with this perpetual trophy. Special thanks go to Billy Potter at Area Wholesale Tire for helping us continue this tradition in memory of his loving father.

The gala Awards Party Saturday night was a BIG HIT with Acme Oyster House outdoing themselves with Red Beans and Rice, Gumbo, Raw Oysters, more Jambalaya, Crayfish Etouffee, Natchitoches Meat Pies, and more of their world-famous Bread Pudding. Thank You Acme!

The Charity Auction, which benefitted both CCA Louisiana and The Billfish Foundation had some wonderful items and raised almost $8,000.00 for these two fine marine conservation charities.

All our Base Entry Winning Captains received a gift bag stuffed with numerous Hatteras gifts, Maui Jim Sunglasses Gift Certificates and other prizes compliments of, along with TABASCO gift bags. To the winning Captains-ENJOY THEM.

With a total of 12 verified Blue Marlin releases, 5 verified Swordfish releases, 1 verified White Marlin release, and 1 Blue Marlin on the dock, left us with a 92% release rate.

"I would like to thank our loyal sponsors, the Best of the Best, without whom we could not have put on our 3rd annual Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic," said Steve Thomas, Tournament Director.

"Please support them as they truly represent the finest manufacturers and products available. In closing, I would like to thank the Plaquemines Parish Council and Parish President Billy Nungesser for their support," said Thomas.

He went on to say, "The sportfishing industry is just one opportunity to help Plaquemines Parish with their rebuilding program — Thanks go to all of you for helping keep Venice on the fishing map. See you next year and bring another boat with you; let’s make it bigger and better every year!"

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