In October 2023, the Best Trait, captained by Chris Mowad, headed out of Sportsman’s Marina in Orange Beach and sailed into Alabama fishing history.
The crew also included Tyler Robinson, Travis Bashaw, Addison Gilly and Joseph Glover. Scott Crump of Jasper owns the 55-foot boat. Sitting in the hot seat that day, Scott “Scooter” Anderson, Jr. of Houston, Texas, soon tangled with a giant blue marlin.
The Best Trait ventured to the fertile waters off the Mississippi River Delta about 125 miles southwest of Orange Beach. Finding nothing at their first spot, Captain Mowad, a veteran of fishing these waters for many years, motored the vessel to another location, the Blind Faith rig.
The immense Blind Faith rig, the deepest rig operated by Chevron, sits about 60 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River. The rig stands 29 stories tall, including the massive structure underwater, and sits in about 7,000 feet of water. At the new location, the captain marked some fish. For bait, the team deployed two live 5-pound blackfin tuna, a favorite meal of big blue marlin.
“We had one tuna on a tip rod and one on a rigger,” Glover says. “With the tip rod, we run it straight behind the boat. We put the other bait on the rigger so it goes farther out and the lines don’t get tangled. We ‘bump troll’ the bait by bumping the engines forward to keep the line tight. The big marlin hit the bait on the tip rod about 40 feet behind the boat. We watched it hit the bait with full force and eat the tuna.”
The captain tracked the marlin on his electronics and watched it go for the tuna. The crew could see on the sonar the massive billfish taking the bait.
“The marlin piled into my live bait,” Anderson recalls. “We knew it was a good fish, but we didn’t think it was going to be a grander. It jumped twice, but it was far away. We couldn’t get a good judge of its size at that time. We were afraid she would get into the rig.”
Through skillful maneuvering, Captain Mowad kept the marlin in open water and away from entangling the structure at the rig. In the fighting chair, Anderson battled the leviathan for more than an hour. At first, the guys on the Best Trait did their best to manhandle the monster marlin into their boat. They pulled it up as far as they could and tied it to the fighting chair to wait for help.
“Chris had to use the boat to plane the fish when it died during the fight,” Anderson says. “After it died, it took another 25 minutes to get it to the boat. When I first saw the size of the fish, I knew we were going to need help pulling it into our boat. Luckily, another boat was out there and Chris knew the captain. Two of their guys got onto our boat to help pull the fish through the tuna door.”
With the fish finally landed, the team returned to Orange Beach on Oct. 18. The enormous marlin weighed 1,145.60 pounds. It stretched 175 inches, or 14.58 feet, from the tip of its bill to its tail. Without the bill, the behemoth measured 145 inches long, or just over 12 feet, with an 84-inch girth.
The big fish shattered the old Alabama state record of 851.90 pounds. It also beat every other fish ever weighed in Alabama. The only fish that comes close is a 1,019-pound tiger shark caught by Brett Rutledge while fishing with High Adventure Charters during the 2023 Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo.
“All the credit goes to Captain Chris,” Anderson says modestly. “He marked it on the sonar and told us when to drop the baits. It’s a team effort to catch a fish like this. I’m more happy for Captain Chris. A captain dreams of catching a fish like this. I was just lucky enough that it ate my live bait.”
Anderson’s fish also ranks as the biggest blue marlin ever pulled from the Gulf of Mexico. The previous Gulf record weighed 1,054 pounds. The International Game Fish Association lists the world record blue marlin at 1,402 pounds, a fish caught in the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil in 1992.
Since the fish died in the fight, the crew donated the meat to a zoo to feed the animals.
John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He also hosts an outdoors tips show for WAVH FM Talk 106.5 radio station in Mobile, Ala. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Facebook.