Spent the last couple weekends fishing marlin tournaments aboard the Good Karma. Last week it was the Stan Miller Yachts invitational and this week it was the BAC Master Angler Billfish Tournament. Did some pre-fishing last Thursday around Catalina and succeeded in ruling out quite a bit of water, so when we departed on Friday night, Captain Shawn Morgon had decided to make a run up north. Shawn had us in a fishy looking zone above Santa Barbara Island at dawn, but it took until noon to get our first bite. That troll bite resulted in Tracy Decker catching the fish, which won her the Lady Angler title for the tournament. A few minutes later we got our second troll bite and her husband Jimmy made short work of getting it close enough for Bobby Lienau to leader which gave us the lead in the tournament. Spent the rest of the afternoon picking the area apart for nothing until we found another batch of biters around 6:00 pm. The fish were all over the jigs but wouldn't stick and I think we had 5 or 6 bites for zero hook ups. I even got bit in free spool while letting the stinger out. Had a feeling those missed bites were going to cost us, but had high hopes for day two. Gave up just before dark and made the run to Santa Barbara Island to anchor for the night. Got pretty windy as the sun went down and we had 25 knots blowing over the island. Weather laid back down overnight and stayed nice all of day two. We were back in the afternoon bite zone by dawn but didn't see much, so we went off to try and relocate the fish. Started to see some signs of life as we came up on low tide, but another boat, the Gad Zukes, got bit before we did and landed their fish, giving them two for the tournament. A few minutes later they hooked up again on a bigger fish. Knowing that once they landed that fish, we'd need to catch two more to retake the lead, it was decided that if we hooked one before they landed theirs we would do everything we could to land it quickly. As luck would have it we did get that bite and Jimmy took the rod while the rest of us scrambled to clear the jigs as Shawn backed down full speed to get to the fish. Well, the plan worked a little too well because Jimmy got the fish to the boat before we'd finished clearing the last of the lines and no one was ready to take a video of the release. Bobby leadered the fish, took a wrap and had the hook pull all within two minutes of the bite and it left us all standing there realizing the fish didn't count as we didn't have the required proof. Shawn voluntarily DQ'd the fish and Gad Zukes landed theirs to take the win. Was stoked that we got second place and happy to win the brown bag side pot. Was stuck back on land the next three days trying to get some work done before getting back on the boat Thursday morning to fish the MABT. Shawn decided to leave the SBI fish behind as there really didn't seem to be enough volume to handle a 40+ boat field so we spent the day scouting below Catalina and San Clemente Island. We didn't see any fish but conditions looked good enough to give the area a hard look on tournament day. Ran back up to the anchorage at SCI and spent the next few hours getting our tackle ready. The MABT is a light line tournament with points calculated on the pound test used in landing the fish. 12 pound test is 240 points, 16 pound 210, 20 pound 180 and 30 pound 150. The tournament is usually won by teams fishing 12 pound test but we decided to go with 16 pound on everything because it gives a little more margin for error which helps since we were on such a large boat. Another aspect of the tournament is that you want one angler to catch all of your fish and win the "Master Angler". We chose Jimmy to be the angler as he has the most experience fishing light line. Day one went about as good as a tournament day can go for our team. Three bites resulted in three released fish and the lead in the tournament at the end of day one. The most exciting part was getting that third bite four minutes before lines out at 6:00 pm. Here are some pictures from the day. This also left Jimmy Decker a very tired but happy leader for the Master Angler award. We got the anchor back down at SCI and spent the next few hours replacing line and rigging tackle before crashing out. Got up at 4:00 am and made our way back to the grounds to try and find a sleeper to cast on after lines in at 6:30 am. Found a fish with a few minutes to go but it sank out before we were allowed to start fishing. The team right behind us in the standings didn't have the same problem and Team Flying Fish hooked their 3rd 12 pound fish of the tournament a minute after lines in. We spent the next hour looking for sleepers and finally found a pod of three. Decker and Bobby cast on the fish and both got bit. They were both big fish and after some shuffling in the bow ended up stretching us out on both ends of the boat. Bobby's fish was close so we tried to get it first but had to stop because Decker was 60 feet from being spooled. When we got some line back on Decker's reel Bobby's fish took off and almost spooled him. We knew we weren't going to be able to fight both fish so we decided to sacrifice Bobby's fish and get Jimmy's. Things were going as planned until something went haywire with Jimmy's reel and the drag got really tight. The reel was set for 6.5 pounds of drag at strike but was probably closer to 20 pounds and Jimmy had the drag lever just a click above free spool and was still probably getting close to 8 pounds of drag. With the reel failing, we needed to get the fish leadered ASAP so Shawn used all of his tricks to get it up. We got the leader out of the water as Shawn thundered down in reverse with water almost coming over the transom. Just as Bobby began to reach for the leader the reel's drag froze completely and the line broke with the leader less than three feet from Bobby's fingers. You've got to fish at 100% if you want to win one of these tournaments and we didn't do that on day two. The team aboard the flying fish did and their three fish on 12 pound gave them the win. Team Joker later caught their third fish on 12 pound and we were left scrambling the rest of the day to put something together but couldn't. Ended up third place high boat, third place high club and second place high angler for Jimmy Decker. Funny thing is that this is the second year in a row that our boat has been 2nd in the Stan Miller and 3rd in the Masters. At least we're consistent. Looking forward to doing it again next year.