2021 Inductees

Texas Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame

Floyd “Babe” Appling

Floyd Babe ApplingBorn July 1, 1933 

His fishing career began at the age of 4 or 5 using his cane pole from the fishing pier with his father (Floyd Appling) and brother (Hefner Appling) at their bay house on Carancahua Bay. 

At age 14 he had his first boat, an 18ft. Hilton, which he says is when he really developed a passion for fishing and being on the water. 

In the mid 1950’s he and his brother bought a 21ft. Grady White which is where his offshore fishing career began. An office chair was mounted to the bow as a fighting chair, homemade bamboo outriggers tied on, and they were off to chase kingfish and sail fish. 

In the early 1960’s he acquired his first true sportfish, a 31ft. Chrisavich (Rybovich knockoff). It was with this boat they began venturing farther offshore (relatively speaking) and began turning their attention to blue marlin. 

In 1968, his first Bimini Babe (a 34ft. gas powered Hatteras convertible) was purchased and fished hard for a couple years. 

ln 1971 he stepped up to his first twin diesel Bimini Babe, (36ft. Hatteras convertible). am told that by the end of 1973, I had made (age 8 months) 11 trips offshore on this boat. A play pen was set up in the salon, and off he went with my mother (Carroll Appling). And by the end of 1974, that same play pen contained both my sister and me. 

In 1977, Bimini Babe #3 was purchased (38ft. Bertram) and saw the transition from the Hatteras line to the first of several Bertrams to follow. 

In 1981 he stepped back from the large sport fishers for a short period of time and purchased a 28ft. Hydrasport, {Chili Dip). He and some friends (Frank Shumate, Bill Berkley and Roy Snead) had decided they wanted to chase striped marlin out of Cabo, so they all bought duallys and trailered their newly acquired and much smaller, trailer-able boats through Mexico, over the Sierra Madre Mountains, ferried across the Sea of Cortez and set up shop in Cabo for several years. These days no one would bat an eye at something like that, but back then it seemed outrageous. I believe they had become somewhat disenchanted with the long hours and long runs required to chase marlin in the Gulf of Mexico only to find a fishless sea. These were the days of virtually unregulated longlining, resulting in various pelagic stocks declining. 

Not coincidentally, this is also when he began to really step up his support to many of the organizations trying to protect and promote the sea and its inhabitants, (GCCA, CCA, and later on The Billfish Foundation). To this day, he says those days in Caho were some of the best and most enjoyable fishing of his life. They traveled back and forth regularly and caught and released l00’s of striped marlin over the following years. 

In 1984 or 85, he was ready to get back to fishing his home waters of the Gulf. He subsequently, located and purchased a 46ft. Bertram from the Ex-Governor of Louisiana who, as the story goes, had just been removed from office. Upon arrival at the boatyard in Seabrook, he was greeted by the DEA who proceeded to dismantle the boat top to bottom looking to find hidden drugs. The DEA had been tipped off that the previous owner had been smuggling and hiding large quantities behind much of the boats interior paneling. Obviously, dad was elated when they came up empty handed. 

After 5 or 6 years, he once again got the itch to do some fishing in other locations. He sold the 46 Bertram and got on a plane for Cairns. He spent a week and a half on a mother ship on the reef, catching blacks. Though he caught numerous blacks, a couple up to 800lbs. he did not get his chance at a grander, but always thought he would get back there to get another chance. During this time without his own sportfish, he continued to fish in different “Hot” locations of the day. He made numerous trips to St. Thomas to fish the North Drop, then back to the Bahamas 1 or 2 times a year for a couple years, Caho and the stripeys again, Isla for sailfish, Cozumel for sailfish, Key West for sailfish and Tarpon and finally early on in Costa Rica. 

I bought a 46 Bertram in 2005 and fished it out of Key Allegro for 4-5 years where Dad would join me a couple times a year to fish. In 2010, at the age 77 he decided he once again wanted start fishing competitively again. He also decided that if he was going to pound around in the Gulf again, he was going to do it in something a little more comfortable than my 46. Within a few months his Bimini Babe #7 (200161ft. Viking) was in route to Key Allegro. From 2010 – Present Day, (Age 77 – now 88) he has fished competitively in tournaments from one end of the Gulf Coast to the other. He has also been the angler on at least one blue marlin every year up through last season. He hasn’t gotten his 2021blue yet, but as a team we are determined to get it for him before season end and now 88 years old. In 2018, (age 85 Or 86) while pre-fishing for the Cajun Classic out of Venice, he was on the rod for his personal best, 3 blues in one day. 

In 2014, after spending a couple months fishing throughout the Bahamas, and having various friends and family come in each week – he decided we needed a bigger boat, and a boat with a sea-keeper if he was to keep fishing. So, at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show that same year, he found Bimini Babe #8, (Viking 74 Enclosed Bridge). He and Robert were very skeptical about an enclosed bridge, but I knew he would love it if I could just get him on one, {I had just spent a couple months with Jerry Koza and Kerry Fritz on the SeaDog, a 60 Hatteras Enclosed). 

Notable Accomplishments & Memorable Catches/Events 

Over the years Dad has credited his passion for the sea and specifically offshore fishing to many people, too many for me to give credit to here, but I think those that have had the most influence were his father, Floyd Appling for introducing him to the coast, fishing and love for boats; his older brother, Hefner Appling, his best fishing friend for decadesSonny Sumers and later on (when Hefner Sr. began to focus on bay fishing) his nephew, Hefner Appling Jr. 

I was very young at the time, so granted – everything looked much bigger to me, but Dad and I have on several occasions discussed “the one that got away”. We were in South Padre fishing the short lived but much hyped Veale Brothers tournament. After hours and hours of trolling around a structure know as Camels Head with no success, we finally came upon some surface bait and proceeded to catch a 201b.ish yellowfin tuna. Hefner Jr, as dad calls him, convinced Dad to let him put out this yellowfin and live bait for a bit. Now, having never live baited for marlin (I’m not sure how many had in the early 80’s) Dad was very skeptical of this new sorcery as he would later admit to me. But Hefner Jr. bridled up our sole yellowfin and back out it went. As best I can recall, it was only 5-10 minutes before the “fish of a lifetime” was greyhounding away from the boat with the yellowfin swinging wildly from its mouth. We, or at least Dad and I just stood there speechless at what we were seeing at the other end of the line. Unfortunately, the fish came unbuttoned shortly thereafter and I can distinctly remember how upset I was – in tears, I went inside to pout. Minutes later Dad came inside to teach me a life lesson that still resides in me today. I don’t recall the exact words, but the gist was; whether it is fishing, golfing, hunting, racing or anything else, the enjoyment should come from the experience and not necessarily the outcome. 

1956 – Blue Marlin (approx. weight 3501bs.) caught out of Port Aransas aboard a commercial fishing boat captained by a friend. They (Dad, Hefner Appling, Sonny Sumers and Gaines Hicks) convinced this commercial boat captain to take them marlin fishing. The tradeoff was that they had to work the deck for him all night, and if they did an acceptable job, he would allow them to troll for marlin during the day. It was notable because, as told by my father and uncle, it was the 6th Blue Marlin brought back to port and weighed in the State of Texas. Accurate or not, it is something they were both very proud of. 

Late 60’s, Early 70’s?? Deep Sea Roundup – Bimini Babe #1 and/or #2 – State Record White Marlin, State record Sailfish – Dad can’t remember exactly, but best I can remember from his 

stories to me throughout the years is that both fish (different years) were caught by Carroll Appling and that both records did not stand for long. Both fish still hang in his home in El Campo along with Hefner Jr.’s winning blue caught during the 1974 TCBT. Dad fished the Deep SeaRoundUp for years and years and had a great deal of success in it. I can’t seem to unearth his first year, or total years he fished it, but he has told me on numerous occasions that, “DeepSeaRoundUp was the only tournament we had to fish back in those days”. 

1970 Key Allegro Tournament – Tournament Champion Bimini Babe #1- 2 Sailfish & a white or small blue marlin 

1970 Poco Bueno – Bimini Babe #1 or #2 – 1st Place Overall – (Babe Appling, Hefner Appling, Hefner Appling Jr., Cobby Reed) 

1974 Texas Championship Billfish Tournament TCBT – 2nd Place Overall – largest Blue Marlin 3761bs. – Bimini Babe #2, Angler – Hefner Appling Jr. 

1979 Poco Bueno – 1st Place – Makaira (Frank Shumate’s Boat) 

1979 Texas Championship Billfish Tournament TCBT – 2nd Place Overall Makaira (Frank Shum ate’ s Boat) 2 Blues, 1 White 

Early 1980’s Poco Bueno – Bimini Babe #3or#4 – can’ t recall exact year, but I was on board for a 2nd Place Overall (small blue I believe) and a 3rd Place overall (2 Whites I believe, angler Roy Snead) 

1985 Texas Championship Billfish Tournament TCBT Bimini Babe #4 – Rescued 5 souls from another TCBT boat (Dos Hombres) that caught fire 70miles offshore and ultimately exploded and burned to the waterline. 

2009 Fun Fishing Trip – Bimini Babe #5 – we caught a 2121b?? Yellowfin that most likely would have been a state record if not for an errant gaff shot (offender to remain anonymous) to the belly that relieved the fish of several pounds of various organs. 

2011Rockport Offshore Challenge Bimini Babe #6 – 2nd Place Overall 

2015 Texas Legends Billfish Tournament Bimini Babe #7 – 1’° Place Overall – 3 Blue Releases 

2016 Cajun Canyon Classic – Bimini Babe #7 541l b. Bluefin Tuna – Angler Trey Thormahlen (not a tournament eligible fish, but definitely a memorable one.) 

2018 Texas Billfish Classic Bimini Babe #7- 1st Place Catch and Release, 3ro Place Overall 3 Blues & 1 Sail 

2018 Billfish Classic Cup Champions – Bimini Babe #7 

2019 Lone Star Shootout 1st Place Blue Marlin Division 514.5lbs. 

Just a year or so back. as Dad and I sat alone at the helm one evening offshore while everyone else was down having dinner, we got to discussing how he was feeling and how long he thought he might be able to continue to fish offshore like this. While in one of his “nostalgic” moods, he went on to say, “as long as I possibly can – as long as you guys will keep bringing me out here”. 

“Ya know bud, I’ve been doing this a longtime and I’ve loved it all. I haven’t had as much success as I would have liked, but I’ve loved it all.” I thought to myself that regardless of his recognized tournament success or record catches – or lack thereof- His legacy will be his longevity in a sport he loved.