In what has shaped up to be a predominately sailfish tournament this week, blue marlin made the difference in the 40th annual Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament. White marlin are typically the most common catch this time of year, but a steady diet of Atlantic sailfish kept the leaderboard flipping faster than pancakes on a Waffle House griddle. But by the time Capt. Marty called for Lines Out Friday afternoon, a single blue one was the key.
Sweet Spot’s blue marlin release on Friday anchored the lead for Capt. Chris Kubik and the 62-foot Spencer team. Their week’s tally included three blues overall, plus seven sails, good for 1,450 points and the top score in the Omni Division. Sweet Spot was able to hold off late charges by Slow Your Roll, Sea Toy, Goombay, Viking 80C and Bullwinkle.
“We had four to five more chances,” says Capt. Bull Tolson, Sea Toy’s skipper and a perennial contender. “We had the opportunities for sure, but it just didn’t work out. It’s all good.” Sea Toy, a 59 Spencer based at Pirate’s Cove, finished the week with 13 sailfish, good for 1,300 points.
After steadily picking the first two days, Bullwinkle, a 57 Spencer run by Capt. Dan Spencer, finished Friday with two sails and a blue marlin to earn the daily billfish jackpot in the non-Omni division. Even though the boat is equipped with the special sonar, the team decided to fish without it for the week, ending up with 1,150 points.
“It all worked out,” Spencer said after the scales closed. “It was a pleasant surprise and being a hometown event, it’s always good.” Marsh Madness was also pushing hard for a late finish.
“We ended up with 10 sailfish for the week,” says Capt. Shane Brafford, skipper of Marsh Madness, a 65 Island Boatworks sportfisher. “We had a double and all the rest of our fish were singles. There have been a lot of sailfish around for a while, but normally whites are the top catch during tournament week.” Goombaywas also in it until the end.
“It was good fishing this week, we enjoyed it,” says Goombay’s skipper Brian Peele. Goombay is a 62 Weaver Boatworks. Peele has been competing in the PCBT for more than two decades. The team tallied 13 sailfish, all on naked ballyhoo.
“We caught all our fish in different spots,” Peele explained. “I marked a little bit of bait but not a lot. I was too busy trying to find more fish to watch the scoreboard this afternoon. But this is a great tournament. I love it.”
The 40th annual installment featured two separate divisions with different entries. Boats equipped with Omni 360 sonar bet more money for a chance at higher payouts.
No trophy blue marlin were weighed this week, yet the typical light-tackle finesse style for smaller blues, white marlin and sails was still on display. Wahoo, tuna and dolphin were eligible entries with the winners determined by the heaviest weight. Steven Ash Jr. weighed what turned out to be the top wahoo on Friday, a 60.4-pound striped speedster. Ash was competing aboard Carolina Girl, a 54 Hatteras run by Capt. Jordy Croswait.
The awards dinner and ceremony was held later Friday night as the nearly 500 anglers and guests celebrated 40 years of outstanding Outer Banks offshore action.
A very special thank you to the following sponsors of this year’s event coverage: Life on the Horizon; Stroud & Son; Jennette’s Pier; Crystal Dawn; Basnight & Moran Insurance; Sea & Sound Tackle; Valentino Custom Boats; Outlets Nags Head; Gregory Poole Marine.
For a photo gallery pertaining to this afternoon’s events at the marina, see the attached below courtesy of Janet Arnold.
To listen to the Day 4 recap on Beach 104, check out the following link:
To access the standings, awards, and a catch summary, please see the attached 12-page PDF:
2023 PCBT Standings