Team Just Keep Fishing Wins OTC Tourney, Heads To IGFA Championships

(OREGON TUNA CLASSIC PRESS RELEASE)

A light rain was starting to fall in Garibaldi Sunday evening but I don’t think anyone really cared. The community was still buzzing and most people were still talking about the massive crowd that filled the big tent Saturday night. Fishermen were moving slow, some had loaded their boats headed for home and the big boats were motoring back along the coast to their home ports.

I visited with Tred Barta while transporting him to the coast on Thursday and as much as his illness has humbled him it is also very inspiring to see him getting back in the saddle and do what he loves most. He was in rare form when he took the microphone Friday evening while teams were still checking in and if there was ever any doubt about how big his personality is that was cleared up quickly. Being self described as “210 pounds of blue twisted steel sex machine with a Republican political view slightly right of Attila the Hun” is only a glimpse of a man that has come close to meeting his maker and has had intimate conversations with God with the love of his life, Annie, by his side. Setting on the side lines is not the Barta way and learning to live life again through his adventures seen on his award winning TV show, “The Best and Worst of Tred Barta” on the VERSUS network every week is inspiring many with disabilities to get back out there and take charge of their lives.

Saturday morning 73 teams checked in at the roll call, a mile offshore in the darkness, and waited. Then at 6:20 am as the sun was breaking through the clouds Tred blessed the fleet with a Fisherman’s Prayer and a few moments later the sea was churned into a froth of boat wakes and prop wash as engines roared to life and boats raced for the horizon.
The seas were less than ideal and boats soon slowed down when the adrenaline rush was quickly replaced by the hard jarring and pounding that comes with the strong north winds that grace the Pacific Northwest. Some plowed onward, others raced over the top and a few returned to port and greeted those upon their return later in the day.

It was a good day for the hungry in Tillamook County when 48 teams turned in 6,414 pounds of tuna at the Tillamook Bay Boathouse. Weigh master Vickie Rutledge with her crew of volunteers from Sterlings Savings Bank called out the weights and secretly recorded the totals as teams waited in suspense to see who would be the new season champion and get the official invite for the IGFA Offshore World Championships held next May in Cabo San Lucas.

Team Just Keep Fishing had been leading in the points with a slight lead over Team Green Lightning Laundry followed not too far behind by Gales Creek Tuna Gaffers and Team Wildcat. It was Team Just Keep Fishing’s title to lose and a bad day on the water would leave it wide open for any of the other teams in the chase.

It was scratch fishing the first few hours for most but as the sun rose high in the sky teams started picking off a few fish here and there. Some getting their 5 fish and heading for the barn while others trying for a few more, in hopes of some bruisers that could help them make the podium.

Saturday evening over 650 people filled the tent to celebrate the end of the 2010 season and crown a new OTC Champion but that would have to wait a little longer. Tred soon showed up along with Annie and his fishing buddy for the day, Lonnie Morgan, another disabled fisherman and the tent came to life again with his larger than life persona. It was a long evening as the program worked through the live auction, raffles, short speeches from the local food bank, acknowledgement of guests and few more inspiring words from Tred to motivate the crowd to give.

In the past seasons there have been some perennial teams that have frequented the podium throughout the season but with more people learning how to fish tuna the playing field is changing and the 2010 season has seen some new faces standing high on the podium.

Our first place team, coming in with 139.3 pounds is Team Albie Damned from Garibaldi, Oregon and skippered by Dan Mitchell is one of those teams that are new to the sport. Dan and his second mate, Jeff Stokes, have been very focused the last few years on learning various techniques and have been posting some great numbers this season so it’s no wonder they took the top spot for this event. His crew was quick to donate their $3,000 first place winnings back to the OTC to help feed the hungry, the bragging rights was enough prize for them.

TEAM ALBIE DAMNED. (OTC)

The second place team coming in with 134.5 pounds is Team Fat Cat from Ilwaco, Washington. A fun group of guys to fish with these guys truly enjoy the spirit of the competition and it was no big surprise when they also donated their $2,000 second place earnings back to the OTC.

Rounding out the third place spot with 129.8 pounds is Team Defiance/ CornFed. Tommy and his crew have been working hard this summer and this is the second time they’ve been on the podium at an event, taking second place earlier this month at the Washington Tuna Classic. Some hard work and good fishing skills pays off for them.

The IGFA points leader Team Just Keep Fishing were sweating bullets coming into the last event and skipper Dave Putnam was pretty frazzled all week with the anxiety of not knowing how things would play out. Lady luck just happen to be their side and they posted enough weight to hang onto the lead taking the title of Season Champions for the 2010 Oregon Tuna Classic and winning the official invite to the IGFA Offshore World Championships.

TEAM JUST KEEP FISHING. (OTC)

Team Green Lightning Laundry and Gales Creek Tuna Gaffers had a great season but just couldn’t muster enough weight, on this last event, to catch them. There’s only a few things left to wrap up for this season but there’s still plenty of time to get back out there and catch a few more fish.

I’d like to give another heartfelt thank you to our title sponsor, Ron Brockmann, an Allstate agent from Albany Oregon. Ron fished on various teams during the season and was always there to help when we needed a hand. It was good karma coming full circle when he was invited to be a crew member on Team Albie Damned helping them to land in first place for this final event. I can’t think of a more fitting finish for his season for everything he’s given to us and those in need.

We’ll see you back on the water.
Tight lines
Del Stephens
OTC Chairman

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