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Duncan’s Mark Truett was excited to give competitive fishing a try, but didn’t totally realize what to expect.
Little did Truett know that what awaited him in his first go around was the the fight of a lifetime.
Competing in the Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament in Florida last weekend, Truett helped a team that included three other Duncan men win the event by catching an estimated 500-pound blue marlin.
“It was the hardest physical fight I’ve been in in my whole life,” Truett, who had to hang on to the line for two and a half hours before catching the fish, said. “The rules don’t allow anyone else to help, so my teammates stayed busy turning my chair and giving me water.”
Team High Stakes, also represented by Duncan’s Jason Phillips, Bobby Shannon and Chris Brown, beat out 31 other teams that were made up of 200 people to take first place. Their winnings amounted to $45,000 and they were given a trophy in the shape of a marlin.
“We were all really excited because of that feeling of achieving a goal,” Phillips said. “We were able to knock something off our bucket list.”
A handful of other teams caught marlins, but Duncan’s group of fishermen gained the edge upon catching a 17.9 pound mahi mahi dolphin. The victory was no small feat at a tournament that is known as the largest in the Key West region.
On day one of the three day event, Truett was able to get a good look at what he was working with before reeling the enormous fish in.
“It jumped out of the water and immediately we were all excited,” Truett said. “I stayed really excited for about the first thirty minutes before I realized that it was going to take a lot of work to get it reeled in. I started wondering how long it would take.”
After barely making it to the weigh in on time for the mahi mahi, the real stress set in on the third and final day. Still in first place and with the local Fox Sports affiliate joining them on board, the team would not catch anymore fish eligible to add to its score, leaving that status on top of the leaderboard in a vulnerable spot.
“We’re looking at what everyone’s caught and we keep seeing it more and more, marlin after marlin,” Phillips said. “We were pretty sure we were still in first, but we were stressing about it the whole day, wondering if what we had caught would be enough. It was a huge relief when we won.”
Six months before the tournament, plans were set up by Phillips to go to Florida after his and Truett’s business Engrave Masters LLC had sold some LED signs to the High Stakes Fishing Charter. Phillips talked with the charter’s captain Jason Jonas of Key West about making the trip, asked Truett to join him, and the rest is history.
After taking home the crown this year, the team knows they’ll have to defend that title in 2014.
“When we got the trophy, someone told me that we’d have to come back so that these salty, coast guys could learn a thing or two from us landlocked fishermen,” Phillips said. “It was overall a memory I know all of us will hang on to for a long time.”