LADY ANGLER EXTRAORDINAIRE
The thrill of the catch – and release – is what entices lady angler extraordinaire, Alexis Jacobs, to the sport of fishing.
“I freshwater fished as a kid with my brother, but nothing really exciting,” Jacobs related by telephone from Columbus, Ohio, where she’s owner and CEO of the
Columbus Fair Auto Auction.
It was early in the 1990s, while motor yachting in the Bahamas, that Capt. Rocky Hardison aboard the 50-foot “Hatterascal” invited her to fish in a for-fun tournament. “I was the only one who caught a blue marlin, so we won. It was fabulous.”
Hooked, Jacobs bought a small center console boat. She eventually bought the "Hatterascal" and renamed it “Reel Obsession”. Over the years, a Hatteras 65 and now Hatteras 70 followed the 50-footer, all named “Reel Obsession”. The bigger boats allowed her to pursue her love of saltwater billfishing and visit a variety of “hot” fishing destinations.
Over the years, Jacobs traveled to Costa Rica for blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, sailfish and big yellowfin tuna. These grounds proved productive, with one memorable catch in 1997 being a 600 pound black marlin on 80-pound test aboard the boat “Tijereta”, with Capt. James “Bubba” Carter.
Another hot spot for Jacobs has been St. Thomas. The release of five blue marlin during the 1999 USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT) or Boy Scout Tournament earned her the Top Female Angler title. Again, she fished aboard “Tijereta” with Capt. Carter.
Jacobs also regularly fishes in the Bahamas, Florida Keys and off Hilton Head, South Carolina.
“I’ve fished in Cancun, Mexico, but didn’t have a lot of luck,” she said. “And I won’t go to Venezuela as long as Chavez is in power.”
Throughout the year, Jacobs plans many of her fishing trips so that she can compete in major tournaments.
“I have a lot of favorites. The Boy Scouts (ABMT) is one of the toughest. We fish it with two anglers, so that means you’re always in the cockpit,” Jacobs explained.
She added: “My next favorite is the Hatteras/Bertram Shootout in the Bahamas for blue marlin. Although they have release categories, the big money is in landing a big fish at the dock. I don’t really like kill tournaments. After that, my third favorite is the Reef Cup Invitational Sailfish Tournament in Key Largo. It’s all release.”
Jacobs has had the good fortune to fish with a number of skilled sports fishing captains. Her current captain, John Burke, has been fishing with her for 15 years, with mates Randy Osterstock and Steff Patrick joining the crew for a shorter number of years. Last year, Jacobs fished with Capt. Terry Stansel aboard the 60-foot factory demonstrator, “Hatterascal”, for the inaugural Bahamas White Marlin Open. She and fellow anglers, who included marine artist Steve Goione, and Hatteras’ own David Ritchie, won the event with a tally of five white marlin, one sailfish and one blue marlin.
But Jacob’s best fish story to date is a tournament loss that should have been a glorious win.
It was the second day of the 2003 Hatteras/Bertram Shootout at Marsh Harbor, in the Bahamas, when aboard her 70-foot Hatteras Convertible, “Reel Obsession”, she hooked up and caught a big blue marlin in 31 minutes. “When she first jumped, we knew she was big. It took six guys to get her into the boat. At one point, she got stuck under the chair. It wasn’t until we got all 121 inches of her into the boat that we noticed a gash on her tail,” Jacobs explained.
The crew looked at the gash and tried to puzzle out its origins. Since it was more of a compression wound then sever, they figured the fish may have hit the rudder or metal steps.
“We thought she might be disqualified, but decided to cover her up, continue fishing, bring her in to weigh and let the committee make the decision,” Jacobs said.
At the weigh station, it took four tries before the fish registered on the scale. The weight proved a whopping 730 pounds. Each time the marlin was weighed and lowered, however, the gash becoming even more prominent.
“The tournament committee called us in. We admitted that we didn’t exactly know what happened to the fish. We had our ideas, but nothing we could prove,” Jacobs explained.
Jacobs had indeed caught the third largest fish in Shootout history, however the post-gaff gash ruled the mega-marlin ineligible by the Committee. Ultimately, the winner was a 551.5-pound blue marlin caught aboard Steve Torcise’s 60’ Convertible, “Ruckus”.
“Rules are rules,” she said. “But I did win the sportsmanship award and got a couple of standing ovations that brought me to tears.”
What’s Jacob’s most fervent future fishing goal? “To come back and win the Shootout,” she said.
That’s a very real possibility with keen sports fishing skill and the fact that she’s taking delivery of a brand new 68-foot Hatteras Convertible in September.
“It will likely be the show boat for Hatteras at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. Then, we’ll base it out of Hilton Head during the summer and Miami during the winter,” Jacobs said.
She concluded: “I’m not sure what our tournament plans will be. We’ve never fished the Bahamas Billfish Championship, but maybe we will this year. I hope to get back to Costa Rica and also to fish the Boy Scout and maybe one more of the Bermuda Triangle Series.”