• Published:May 3, 2017
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Ken Glover's two loves are baseball and fishing.

Attributes from both of his passions came into perfect harmony last weekend at the 45th Annual Bluewater Tournament held in St. Augustine, Florida.
Using a blend of patience, perseverance and impeccable timing, Glover and the rest of the crew on Double Play III won the Billfish Division of the Bluewater Tournament, landing the only blue marlin of the three-day affair.

The blue marlin release earned them 500 points, well ahead of the second-place finisher, Miss Laddy, which tallied 250 points. In the Game Fish Division, ReelXcape II beat out Sea Genie by a narrow 25-point margin.

The tournament fleet endured mostly rough conditions with 20-mph winds on the final day of the event. But the crew on Double Play III took advantage of the calmest day of the tournament and Glover’s wife, Debbie, was the lucky angler to land the event’s only marlin.

“We’re not professional fishermen, we’re not professional tournament people,” said Glover, who owns Double Play III, a 61 Viking. “It’s fun when you can do something like this. We like to be competitive. We like to win.”

Glover, his captain Ryan Rodeffer, first mate Joey Nowicki and Debbie were on top of their game early. They boated a few mahi before running down their blue marlin after a 60-mile run, east/southeast of St. Augustine Inlet. Their strategy: Have a plan, but be flexible.

“Basically when the captain and I went out, we were looking at the sea-surface temperatures and reports from other people,” Nowicki said. “Every day you run out there you’re saying you’re going to play it by ear and see what we have to work with once we get there. You can get a good idea of what the water’s been doing and maybe what it’s been doing last night and what it’s been doing when you wake up in the morning, but you never know 100 percent until you’re out there. Once you’re out there, it takes a little intuition to see what you have to work with and go from there.”
"This particular marlin was potentially worth a five-figure payout. If I screw up and don't communicate with the captain or leave a line out, that's a long ride home."
-- Joey Nowicki
And when in doubt, keep moving. The 61 Viking sport-fisher probed and forged through the chop and eventually found what the crew was looking for.

“There was a little bit of good water here and good water there,” Nowicki said. “We were trying to run out and give ourselves an opportunity to cover a lot of water while we were trolling around.”
A bit of purple water nearly 350 feet deep alongside a grass patch looked promising and then produced.

“We were expecting dolphin,” said Glover, who is from Houston, Texas, and a part-time St. Augustine resident. “The fish took her down to the backing, and Debbie said, ‘I don’t think this is a dolphin.’ She went up on the drag. It’s tough to bring in a big fish. We cleared the decks of everything and we started backing down to help her out.”

Nowicki assumed it was a sailfish, but then recognized it was a marlin, noting the dorsal fin and size of the fish. Then it was just a matter if it was a white or a blue.

All of this info had to be processed as a foot of water poured in over the transom in small waterfalls. Amid the chaos, Nowicki was elated the big fish ate the ballyhoo they had rigged on a 10/0 circle hook.

“What we were hoping would happen did happen,” Nowicki said. “That guy came up and ate. He was there. It was awesome.” The fish got up close and personal from the start, tight to the squid chain teaser.“It was on the shortest line we had out, probably 15 yards behind the boat. It was unbelievable the fish came that close.”

With the tournament on the line Nowicki had to settle the angler in the chair, communicate with the captain, clear the lines, hope the Momoi 300-pound mono leader would hold up and execute a proper photo release. No sweat, right?

“Catch a marlin any day and there’s pressure,” Nowicki said, but this particular marlin was potentially worth a five-figure payout. “If I screw up and don’t communicate with the captain or leave a line out, that’s a long ride home.”

With precise teamwork, from the eat to the release, the team only needed about 25 minutes to catch and release their fish. It was the first blue marlin of the year for the Northeast Florida Marlin Association, which hosted the Bluewater out of St. Augustine’s Camachee Cove.

“There were a lot of guys fishing for blue marlin,” Bluewater tournament director Scott Stanley said. “They were certainly hard and heavy after it.”

Mark Gombert, the 2016 Bluewater Billfish Division Champ, did not place in the billfish division this year, but left this year’s tournament with the satisfaction of catching the tournament’s biggest dolphin at 43.7 pounds, tops in the 21-boat field.

“We did good,” said Gombert, who heads up Preventive Maintenance. “We fished hard. We caught fish, just not the right fish.”

As it turned out, Double Play III did.