By Capt. Dave Lear, www.captaindavelear.com
The 37th annual Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, 83 boats competed for $852,950 in cash prizes. A total of 473 billfish were released during four days of fishing. But when the diesel smoke finally cleared, it was Desperado, the 2019 champion, atop the leaderboard once again. This marks the first time in eight years that a boat has won the PCBT two years in a row. Bi-Op-Sea was the last to accomplish that feat in 2011 and 2012.
Desperado, an Pirates Cove-based charter boat owned and run by Capt. Rob Barker, released 16 white marlin to earn $158,278 for top boat, overall points (1,600) and second place in the Day Two daily honors. Jeff James and JT Roehrs are the mates aboard the 56-foot Taylor Harrison sportfisher. The team’s anglers included Mickey Carter, Brad Ward, Craig Sudbrink, Billy Carter, Andy Gay and Ron Wade.
Uno Mas, a 77 Mark Willis owned and run by Capt. Brooks Smith, is taking home a nice consolation purse. Also a previous PCBT winner, Uno Mas logged 14 billfish, good for 1,550 points and second place overall. The boat’s combined prize money is $162,193. Jeremy Cerdas and Eric Rojas Venegas are the mates on the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based boat.
Sea Toy, a 59 Spencer Yachts (Capt. Bull Tolson) was the third-place team with 11 billfish and 1,250 points. Owner Jim Bayne, mates Timmy Kidwell and Catlin Peele plus the team are splitting $133,636 in prize money. Sea Toy’s home port is the Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo.
Sensation, a 52 Jarrett Bay with Capt. Dale Britt on the throttles, earned fourth place honors and Billfish Daily prize money after scoring 10 fish (1,150 points). Mama C, a 60 Bayliss run by Capt. Rob Mahoney, came in fifth place with 11 fish (1,100 points) and the $5,000 prize for the first fish on Day 3. The other first release daily prizes went to Point Runner, Kahuna and Waterman. Desperado (VA), Sea I Sea and Tenacity won billfish daily money, while Haulin’ Gas and Game Changer won extra in the blue marlin release division.
Frank Adams cranked in the heaviest wahoo aboard Ann Warrick (76 Paul Mann/Capt. Brad Diaz). Alex Peebles was on the rod for the biggest tuna, a 58.4-pounder, caught on Sea I Sea (72 Viking/Capt. Hunter Blount). Randy Crites scored the top dolphin at 20.1 pounds on Kahuna (54 Sculley Boat Builders/Capt. Reed Meredith). The winner-take-all prizes in the game fish categories were worth $11,475 per species.
Shelley Smith, competing on Triple ’S’ (60 Viking/Capt. Todd Smith), earned the Top Lady Angler trophy by releasing 8 billfish. Twelve-year-old William Ramsey IV captured the Junior Angler honors with four billfish worth 700 points. Ramsey was fishing on Tail Gunner, a 52 Paul Mann (Capt. Gray Blount). Garrett Holden on Uno Mas was the Top Angler for the week with six whites and one blue marlin release.
The combined fleet released 473 billfish overall. None were boated. The species breakdown included 398 white marlin, 31 blues, 42 sailfish and two spearfish. A total of 41 gamefish were brought to the scales, including 25 yellowfin tuna, 14 dolphin and two wahoo.
The 38th Annual Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament is scheduled for August 9-14, 2021.