Hamilton, Bermuda—July 18, 2023—The team fishing aboard Wolverine, led by Capt. Rocky Hardison and based in Morehead City, North Carolina, landed in first place during the 2023 Bermuda Big Game Classic. Anglers Gary Fletcher, Wes Nardoni, and Worth Farrington released six blue marlin and one white marlin during the three days of fishing to earn a cash purse of $105,525 and an invitation to compete in the 2024 Costa Offshore World Championship.
When asked how owner and angler Gary Fletcher got into big-game fishing, he reminisced about reading an article in Marlin Magazine in 1999, which enticed him and his son to book their first marlin fishing trip. Fast-forward 24 years later, after Fletcher built a custom boat and has fished all over the world; he and his team are proudly accepting first place in the second leg of the prestigious Bermuda Triple Crown.
Day One saw a total of 30 blues and eight whites for the 40-boat fleet. But the highlight of Day One was when the local Bermudian team UnWined weighed a 510-pound blue marlin on the Island Construction crane and IWS ScaleMaster. Capt. Chris Osborne radioed in angler Joseph Vieira’s hook-up at 12:07 p.m., and the team persisted for more than five hours to boat the fish at 5:36 in the afternoon. The anticipation at Barr’s Park was evident when the scale tipped past the 500-pound mark and landed on 510 pounds, prompting the entire UnWined team to jump and backflip into the water. Their blue marlin ended up earning them the daily blue marlin jackpot of $33,300.
On the second day of fishing, the teams released a total of 27 blues and seven whites. No blues were brought to scales on Day Two, which doubled the stakes on Day Three’s daily blue marlin jackpot by rolling over the unclaimed $33,000.
The third day of fishing produced 26 blue marlin and nine white marlin. All marlin were released except one, which turned out to be the most lucrative fish in the tournament’s history. Amigo’s Capt. Brad Schoenfeld called in a boated blue at 2:28 p.m. by angler David Denbow. The team from Port O’Conner, Texas—Wyatt Denbow, Kyle Drushel, Chad Starr, Jeff Welch, and Chris Williams—was rightfully ecstatic when their blue marlin weighed in at 573 pounds. Ultimately, this earned them three of the optional jackpot levels: Day Three Daily Blue Marlin, which had doubled from Day Two, the Largest Blue Marlin Level One jackpot, and the Largest Blue Marlin Level Two jackpot. Combined, Team Amigo won $310,800, the largest amount the Bermuda Big Game Classic has ever awarded for a single fish.
The Bermuda Big Game Classic is the second leg of the Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship. Currently, Plane Simple is in first place with 6,600 points, with Builder’s Choice in second with 6,000 points and Wolverine moving into third with 4,700 points. The third and final leg of the Triple Crown series is the 2023 Seahorse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament, which takes place July 20-24.