The team’s 600-pound blue is worth a record $1 million payout
Jon Gonsoulin, Capt. Jason Buck and the team on Done Deal, a 70-foot Viking based in Houma, Louisiana, have an enviable record on the Gulf of Mexico big-game tournament circuit. They’ve won and placed in numerous events and were repeat winners of the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship in 2012 and 2013. They raised the bar yet again with a 600-pound blue marlin in the winner-take-all Blue Marlin World Cup Championship, earning a tournament-record payout of $1 million for the largest fish in the worldwide event. A total of 144 boats were competing in the eight-hour contest that’s held every year on the Fourth of July. Gonsoulin shares the story of this amazing catch.
We were pre-fishing near the Elf platform in 2,500 feet of water, fewer than 25 miles from my duck camp in the Louisiana marsh. There was a lot of bait, good current and a cobalt-blue color change just north of us, so we made the call to head back there for the tournament. We started making bait about 3 a.m. near the rig and quickly loaded up with small blackfin tuna. We couldn’t have ordered better conditions either. It was so calm, you could have set a glass of wine on the counter and never spilled a drop. It was absolutely beautiful out there. We had the lines in right at the 8:30 local start time, and an hour later we got the bite.
Capt. Wilks Hammock runs a boat in Cabo, but when he’s home, he’s been fishing with us for years as a walk-on mate and angler. He was the closest to the rod on the strike, and since the World Cup follows IGFA rules, he fought the fish. We knew it was a good one right away. The fish stayed on top, just running hard and pulling a lot of line — Jason backed down on it quite a bit. Wilks fought it for one hour and 45 minutes before we finally sank the gaff. When we got it aboard, it taped out at 123 inches with a 62-inch girth. It was skinny but long, so we thought it might be good enough to win.
We released three other blues before heading to Orange Beach Marina to weigh the fish. It was 600 pounds on the button. After we finished with the photos, we all went up to the restaurant at the marina to wait it out. Boats were still fishing in Kona, and I was stressed out. When we learned we’d won the tournament, we just went crazy. That place is kind of prim and proper, so everyone was wondering what was going on.
I owe it all to my captain and crew, including our mates, Westy Marshall and Scott Sullivan. This has brought a lot of well-deserved attention to the incredible fishery in the Gulf of Mexico; I bet there will be a bunch more boats fishing the World Cup here next year.
It’s been a memorable season for us so far. My daughter Katie caught a 502-pound bluefin tuna in May at the Orange Beach Billfish Classic after a fourhour fight. We came in second in releases at the Blue Marlin Grand Championship, and Katie was named top lady angler. But catching that 600-pounder and winning the World Cup is the highlight of our year by far.