Paul Christie was so ashamed after Jumbo Shrimp’s performance during the first leg of the Florida West Coast Bluewater Series, he didn’t even show up to Bradenton Yacht Club in Palmetto for the Crosthwait Extreme Billfish Classic weigh-in.
Jumbo Shrimp’s first venture into billfish fishing had gone just about as poorly as possible. The foursome had two bites — both mahi-mahi — and that was all. Christie decided to just go home rather than sit through a shameful weigh-in.
“It was the first tournament we’ve never weighed in in our life,” Christie said. “I was devastated and I chose not to weigh in, and for the next couple days it was killing me. Killing me!”
Jumbo Fish had to regroup and earlier this week they set back off into the Gulf of Mexico, out toward the steps of the continental shelf, where the water gets deeper and the marlins are more plentiful.
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I was devastated and I chose not to weigh in, and for the next couple days it was killing me.
Paul Christie, Jumbo Shrimp captain
The second try was the charm for the Bradenton team. A nearly 240-pound blue marlin was enough to vault Jumbo Shrimp to victory at the Sarasota Slam, the second leg of the West Coast Bluewater Series. Jumbo Fish finished with 601 points to edge For Now’s 430 and lift a giant check worth $21,000 at Marina Jack on Saturday.
It was redemption.
“We’re used to always winning, always having six fish,” Christie said. “We had nothing. I was devastated.
“I’m still mad at myself.”
The misstep at the Crosthwait Extreme was a rare feeling for Jumbo Shrimp, which typically winds up near the top of the podium at either inshore or offshore tournaments around the region. Last year, the team found slight viral fame when it pulled in a 347-pound grouper during the Crosthwait Memorial Fishing Tournament in Palmetto.
But Christie was discouraged by the Crosthwait Extreme. He wondered if Jumbo Shrimp was in over its head, whether it would even be worth it to finish out the other two legs of the triple crown event, which wraps up with the Old Salt Loop Tournament from Aug. 15-19 in Madeira Beach.
Still, Jumbo Shrimp set sail Tuesday just looking for a better result, something respectable. The foursome of Christie, Nathan Dahlman, Greg Brown and Aaron Bishop returned with the marlin, a tuna, a sailfish and a wahoo, which won them another $2,992.
“I’ve always said we’re always going to weigh in. I didn’t do it and I felt really bad,” Christie said. “I felt like quitting, I’m like, ‘No, no.’ Let’s keep grinding. Let’s keep fishing hard. It all came together. It was awesome. Totally awesome.”