Dallas, Texas – Sport Fishing Championship (SFC), the governing body of saltwater tournament fishing, announced the results of the Louisiana Gulf Coast Billfish Classic. Team Breathe Easy won the competition for SFC, which was held out of Cypress Cove Marina in Venice, Louisiana and Hurricane Hole Marina in Grand Isle.

The team started the tournament with a slow first day, recording no catches. The following day the team made a move south, where they caught and released four blue marlin within five hours. On day three, a storm blew through that made fishing difficult for the entire tournament fleet and significantly delayed Team Breathe Easy’s return to base. 

“We made it under the bridge with 13 seconds left to go,” said Patrick Ivie, captain of Team Breathe Easy. “It was a brutal ride home, I’m just glad we made it back on time. But we had a great trip last year, and a really good trip this year, we came out of the gates swinging. Hopefully we’ll stay in contention this year.”

Capt. Ivie and his team held their lead through the stormy final day to secure first place. This success comes on the heels of a second-place finish at the Gulf Coast Billfish Classic last year. 

In addition to their catch and release of two blue marlin and a sailfish, Team Rising Sons weighed the first yellowfin tuna of the SFC season, with angler Jason Leblanc landing a 147.5-pound fish. This is Rising Sons’ second year in a row as the first team to weigh in a yellowfin tuna for the SFC Championship Fish Division – last year’s was also recorded at the Louisiana Gulf Coast Billfish Classic. The angler who lands the biggest yellowfin tuna of the year (as well as mahi-mahi, bigeye tuna and wahoo) will be awarded $50,000 at the end of the season. Leblanc said that at the time he caught the yellowfin tuna, in the early hours of the morning, he was the only team member awake. 

“I was out by myself and I caught the fish, and it took me 46 minutes to get it on the boat, which is a pretty common tuna fight,” he said. “Then some of my crew woke up and were able to come help me get the fish over the side. We were excited to catch a big tuna this year because last year we won the tuna division in this exact same tournament. This is a really good place to catch a tuna, and we plan on doing that every year if possible.”

SFC tournament points accrue based on a team’s placement in the final tournament standings, with the first-place team earning 3,500 points, the second-place team 3,000 points, and so forth. Placements in the tournament standings are determined from tournament-only points based on species of fish caught and released, with the highest consideration given to blue marlin, then white marlin and spearfish, and finally sailfish and swordfish. 

The results from this weekend:
•    Team Breathe Easy released four blue marlin to earn 3,500 points
•    Team Quick Time released three blue marlin to earn 3,000 points
•    Team All In released two blue marlin (including the first blue marlin of the tournament) to earn 2,800 points
•    Team Rising Sons released two blue marlin and one sailfish to earn 2,600 points
•    Team Miss Maysen released two blue marlin to earn 2,400 points

In total, 23 billfish were caught and released in Louisiana this year. A total of 140 billfish have been released for the 2023 SFC season. 

Next week, the season’s second tournament will kick off on Thursday, May 11, in St. Augustine, Florida with the Salt Life Bluewater Tournament. 

The season’s events thereafter include: the Gulf Coast Masters in Orange Beach, Alabama, May 25-28; the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic in Biloxi, Mississippi, June 8-11; the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic in Sandestin, Florida, June 22-25; the South Jersey Yacht Sales Offshore Showdown in Cape May, New Jersey, July 6-8; the Oak Bluffs Bluewater Classic in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, July 12-15; the Tri-State Canyon Shootout in Block Island, Rhode Island, July 24-27; the Texas International Fishing Tournament in South Padre Island, Texas, August 4-6; and conclude with the San Juan International Billfish Tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 23-25.

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