Fishing stories come in many shapes and sizes. Few have more dimensions than the tale of 2020 MONGO champion blue marlin…
2020 was an up and down year for many. While the year will be remembered for its roller coaster of emotions by just about everyone, few people escaped the year with a more representative tale than Ginger Myers.
Ginger is a wonderfully nice woman who, along with her husband Keith, owns the 72 Viking, Fleur de Lis. Ginger’s Louisiana roots come through clearly when speaking with her—both in the manner of her speech and its content. Like any good Cajun, Myers can tell a fishing story… and does she ever have a fishing story to tell.
Were it not enough that the Fleur De Lis set the all-time Gulf of Mexico blue marlin record with 63 in the year, but they also won the MONGO and set the new Alabama state record. Any time you catch an 851-pound tournament-winning fish that sets a state record you’re likely to have a story. But considering the circumstances surrounding Ginger Myers, the fish and the tournament are more of an after thought than the main idea.
Ginger Myers: Cancer Survivor, Blue Marlin State Record Holder and MONGO Champion
Yes, you read this correctly. The timeline that leads up to July 5, 2020—the day when she caught the fish– is an incredible one.
“I was diagnosed with cancer in February 2020,” Myers begins. “My big surgery was in March. I then experienced some complications and had to have two more surgeries.”
As Myers recovered from her third of four surgeries, summer was fast approaching. The Fleur De Lis was an early registrant in the MONGO and had designs on winning the Blue Marlin World Cup on the 4th of July.
The crew was planning the trip as Ginger visited her doctor for a surgical follow up. “I asked the doctor if I could fish. He said yes, but I told him, “I’m not going perch fishing, I’m going to be sitting in the chair fishing for blue marlin!’”
Satisfied with her recovery, the doctor gave Myers the go ahead. This doctor’s note set up an encounter with a sea monster.
Captain Scooter Porto
Captain Scooter Porto is hell of a fisherman (he was at the helm for all 63 of those blue marlin this year). A humble, thoughtful person, I would be skeptical of anyone who claims not to like Captain Scooter. It was Porto who Myers credits with getting Keith and Ginger into blue marlin fishing.
After a long and accomplished tenure running the Reel Addiction for Rocky Jones in Pensacola, Porto’s position at the helm of the Fleur De Lis is good fit. It seems, in fact, the type of arrangement that people aspire to—the type that benefits everyone involved.
“It was the day after the World Cup. We decided to stay out because the fishing was good,” Porto begins. The Blue Marlin World Cup is a one day, world wide quest to catch the biggest blue marlin. The Gulf of Mexico holds it own against the many of the world’s great big fish destinations—Bermuda, Hawaii, Madeira, Cape Verde.
A Trip to Remember
“We caught a few fish (on the 4th of July), but not the right one,” Porto recalls. “In the morning, we had four bites. We had a fish on every bait we put out.”
The Fleur De Lis was fishing was live baiting using blackfin tuna. They were fishing in the same area where Captain Jason Buck caught a 650-pound blue the day before—a fish that would contend for, but ultimately fall short of the 964-pound World Cup winning fish that as caught in Cape Verde.
“We decided to make one more pass before heading in. We didn’t make it around the rig before this fish bit,” the veteran explains. As fate would have it, it was Ginger’s turn to be in the chair. “It never jumped and we didn’t realize how big it was,” Porto recalls.
“Once we hooked it, I was reeling and reeling. The fish never fought very hard until we got her near the boat,” Myers explains. When the fish neared the boat, something changed. “She pulled so hard that it stood me up in the chair. I said, ‘Oh no… You’re not winning!’”
Myers estimates the fight around 20 minutes. “We weren’t really prepared to kill the fish. I looked down and saw her and thought she might qualify for the MONGO. The state record was an afterthought,” Porto describes.
“We got her to the side of the boat. Five men, with four gaffs… it took some doing. It took longer to get her into the boat than it did for me to reel it in,” says Myers with a laugh.
Headed to the Dock With a MONGO Blue Marlin
Upon wrangling the sea monster of a blue marlin onto the boat, the Fleur de Lis was faced with a new dilemma. Looking down at a cockpit full of blue marlin, they would need someone to weigh the fish.
The problem for Porto and the Myers was that it was Sunday and the weigh at the Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama was closed. Scooter called in to tell them that they were headed in with a huMONGOus blue marlin.
After a few calls and offering something in way of a financial incentive, the scales opened as they arrived at the dock. Thinking it would be a normal, sleepy Sunday afternoon, the Fleur de Lis backed its way in the slip.
Awaiting them was a carnival atmosphere. Word of the big fish had begun to spread around Orange Beach and over social media. Among the crowd of onlookers were MONGO tournament directors—Captain Jeremy Cox, his brother JD, and friend Brian Johnson were on hand to greet them and film what would come.
“There was a little boy in the crowd. He looked up at the marlin and asked, ‘Who caught that fish?’ I said, ‘Me!’” recalls Ginger with a smile. He couldn’t believe it. “’No way!’ the boy said.”
The Fish of A Lifetime
Marlin fishing is a team game. Success requires many skillful participants who all do their part. The Fleur de Lis is no different.
Congratulations to Keith and Ginger Myers, Captain Scooter Porto, mates Zac Taylor and Jake Glass and Nate Dennis– the photographer/chef/ do-it-all crewman who specializes in drinking FireBall. Corey and Chris Stagg are anglers who round out the team.
“Catching that fish was the highlight of our year,” concludes Miss Ginger. “We’re going across the board in the MONGO this year.”
Catch them if you can…