|The Billfish Diva|
New Orleans native Kerri Burrus takes big-game angling to the small screen in high style.
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — March 2003
Kerri Burrus (a.k.a. Billfishgirl) has been a regular on ESPN2's Billfishing Xtreme Release League (BXRL) tournament and same-named TV show for the last two seasons, as well as a featured angler on Capt. Norm Isaacs' TV show Big Game Fishing the World. The New Orleans native holds numerous billfishing titles and has several tournament wins, including being named the World Billfish Series (WBS) top lady angler for three straight years. (She only went pro four years ago.) In addition to becoming a TV personality, Burrus has a Web site (www.billfishgirl.com) that profiles her angling accomplishments, a swimsuit calendar, and a legion of fans that e-mail her regularly for fishing advice, thank you's, and just to say hi. However, if the bite's on, she may be a little late getting back to those e-mails, because fishing is her passion. Burrus' enthusiasm for the sport can be seen in her serendipitous road to the top of the big-game leader board.
From the age of seven, Burrus fished offshore on her family's Hatterases, which ranged from 41 to 72 feet over the years, but as an adult she decided to make the move from recreational angler to professional. She wanted to fish with--and against--the best. So Burrus packed her bags in the fall of 1998 and headed out to compete in the six-figure-plus Bisbee Black & Blue Marlin Jackpot Tournament out of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. She arrived in Cabo without a boat or crew and walked the docks hoping to find a charter. The fisherman, a title she wears proudly, found a willing captain and registered to fish, unaware that she would catapult from solo angler to top professional and television celebrity. And it all began with, "hello."
"I was walking around the captains' meeting [at Bisbees], and there's around 1,000 anglers," remembers Burrus. Not knowing anyone, she felt alone in the crowd until she spotted Isaacs. "He's the only person I recognized," she adds. She introduced herself, and Isaacs was intrigued by her story. He asked if she would mind having a camera onboard while she competed. Burrus agreed, and a friendship and her TV celebrity were born. She appeared several times on Isaacs' show and improved her stature in the professional angling arena by competing in the WBS.
"The WBS is a tour like the PGA," Burrus explains. In each WBS-sanctioned tournament, every fish you catch is worth points, and the most points wins. In that first Bisbee tournament, Burrus caught and released a striped marlin and acquired 450 points. She didn't win the tourney, but these would be far from her last WBS points. In fact, when the curtain closed on the 1999, 2000, and 2001 WBS seasons, Burrus found herself the lady angler ace each time. Not only had she gone pro, but she had also pulled a top-spot hat trick. (At presstime, the 2002 WBS results were still being tallied.)
This article originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.