Patt’s involvement in fishing came by heritage. Her grandmother Dorothy Hawn was an avid angler. Dorothy and her husband, Col. James Blakeney, owned a 48’ Wheeler named Wolverine in the 1950s and Col. Blakeney caught the largest blue marlin off Port Aransas in 1956 at 344 pounds. In 1963, her uncle Dean Hawn (who was inducted in the Texas Saltwater Hall of Fame in 2007) beat the Colonel’s record by landing a 547-pound blue marlin, also out of Port Aransas on another boat named Wolverine.
When Patt and her family permanently moved from Corpus Christi to Port Aransas in 1964, she was able to fish even more. Within a year of the move, she landed her first billfish – a sailfish – at age 11, with Captain Burton Curry at the helm and her mother, Tiny Hawn, on board.
In August 1973, on the latest Wolverine, a 35’ Bertram, Patt landed a 325-pound mako shark for her first Texas State Record. Captain Bruce Reiter and Jimmie Graves made up the crew.
Her growing experience paid off in April 1977, when she, Captain Curry, and Jack Jette set out in 6 to 8 foot seas in that 35’ Bertram. After an hour and a half fight, Patt brought in a 560-pound blue marlin. A new Texas State Record! Her goal of beating her Uncle Dean’s record and of keeping that record in the family was achieved.
Then, just three days later, she and the crew again to the 100-fathom curve. After a four-hour fight, mostly bringing up dead weight, Patt boated a 540-pound bluefin tuna, thought to be the first recorded bluefin catch off the Texas coast. This, too, became a Texas State Record.
During the late 1970s and early ‘80s, fulltime work and raising a family with her husband, Ben, became a priority. Bay fishing took the place of offshore trolling.
Then in the 1990s, the whole family got back into offshore fishing with another Wolverine, a 48’ Ocean. Patt’s and Ben’s children, Tricia and Ben Jr., kept the family sports tradition going, becoming accomplished fishermen. Fishing Florida and the Bahamas became the family’s annual summer fishing adventure. Now in the 2020’s, Patt along with her two grandchildren – Claire and Tripp (Ben III) – family fish aboard Reel Blue, a 60’ Hatteras.
When reflecting on her mentors – Barney Farley, Burton Curry, and Bill Hart – Patt says she feels blessed that they took the time to nurture and educate her in the world of fishing. And even more important, they made it fun. Growing up a young woman in a man’s world, aka Big Boat Fishing, was not an issue because she always received encouragement and best wishes from men and women alike. Sportswriter Roy Swann was a big force in highlighting Patt’s accomplishments in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Patt also remembers encouragement from Cora Keeler and Barbara Furlow, two women accomplished anglers. She delights that more women every year are becoming well represented in tournaments and in everyday fishing.
In 1977, when Patt had the honor of holding three Texas State Records, Sports Illustrated wrote about Patt’s accomplishment in its “People in the News” column.
Patt is a member of the Port Aransas Rod and Reel Club (PARR) and a life member of IFGA. Patt is an Advisory Director of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. Patt contributes to to the Hart Research Center, GCA, local schools for scholarships, and Piggy Perch competitions. Patt and her husband Ben have been honored by receiving the Harvey Weil Sportsman Conservationist Award and the South Texans of the Year Award.