It's a yearly tradition in the Blue Marlin Grand Championship: when the event is sold out at 60 participating teams, everyone else goes onto an alternate list. But for those who really want a shot at the title, there's another way. The 61st entry is set aside as a VIP position known as the St. Jude Position, with special recognition throughout the tournament and even a prime boat slip included at The Wharf Marina for the week. Participants submit sealed bids, with the winner being awarded the VIP St. Jude Position entry. The proceeds from this entry go directly to funding St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is actively seeking a cure for a wide variety of childhood cancers and other terminal illnesses.
Love, Passion and Marlin Fishing
Michael Lovett has fished in tournaments throughout the upper Gulf of Mexico since the early 1990s, including those in Orange Beach, Pensacola, Bay Point and elsewhere. And he did it with his family: his wife Lisa beside him as an angler in the cockpit and their son Logan at the helm of their boats, all named Pool Shark
thanks to Michael's pool-contracting business. They shared a love of family and fishing as well as a passion for competition, with Lisa taking home more than a few trophies in different tournaments over the years.
But the family received devastating news in 2010, when Lisa was diagnosed with cancer. She fought a tough but ultimately unwinnable battle against an enemy deep within her own body, and passed away in 2015. During that time though, she encouraged her husband and son to not only continue fishing but even to look for a new boat. "We had looked at quite a few and finally decided that we wanted a Ricky Scarborough," Michael says. "A few months after she passed, Scarborough got in touch with us and said he had found a 55-footer he wanted us to look at." It turns out the boat was also owned by a father and son duo, just like Michael and Logan. They made the deal happen just in time for Logan to deliver the boat from Wanchese, North Carolina to Stuart and then over to the Bahamas for his destination wedding in the islands. "The timing just seemed to work out perfectly, from the purchase to the wedding to finally getting her home to Orange Beach," Michael reports.
And rather than continue with the tradition of Pool Sharks
, Michael and Logan went with Lisa Jo
for the latest boat. "We just feel like we have a guardian angel with us," Michael says.
Fishing the Championship
"Once we got the boat home, we decided that we wanted to fish the Blue Marlin Grand Championship, so I called Scott [Burt, BMGC tournament director]. He said the tournament had been sold out since March but that we could be on the alternate list, or we could enter the silent auction bid for the St. Jude Position, so that's exactly what we did."
In his pool-contracting business, Michael always ended his bids in the amount of $750, and so he submitted a check for $13,750 for the silent bid. On May 16–Lisa Jo Lovett's birthday–the bids were opened and they were declared the winner. That extra $750 proved to be the winning difference.
"We enjoy giving back when we can," Michael says. "We have some junior angler scholarship programs set up in the Mobile and Pensacola big-game fishing clubs and a few other things, but knowing that this bid money is going to such a worthy cause as St. Jude's just means the world to us. Lisa would definitely approve."
For more information on St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, visit www.stjude.org