Clock Watchers

Friday afternoon won’t get here soon enough for a handful of boats entered in the 2017 PCBT. That’s when lines will officially come out of the water and several with chewed fingernails are hoping their scores won’t be toppled in the interim. Chief among them is Capt. Chris Kubik and the crew aboard Point Runner, a 60 Guthrie. The current overall leader is done fishing thanks to the mandatory lay day rule, but not before the team added a few more fish on Thursday. The Oregon Inlet charter boat tallied an impressive 20 white marlin to pace the fleet for the week.

Only two boats in the top 14 teams will be fishing on Friday, the last day of the tournament. Capt. Arch Bracher and the Pelican team made a serious run at the top, releasing four more whites on Thursday to end up with 17 fish worth 1,700 points and second place—so far. Fin Planner is next, followed by three more boats with 1,200 points. There are at least another 10 with 900-plus points, but only a few among that group will be heading through Oregon Inlet on Friday.

Overall it was another Outer Banks benchmark with 72 boats electing to fish. The collective fleet released 174 billfish, including 140 whites, 12 blue marlin and 22 sailfish. Sea I Sea was the top daily winner with seven releases (six whites/one blue).

“We were very fortunate,” says Don Mills, owner of the 72 Viking run by Capt. Rob Mahoney. “it was a gorgeous day, really really nice. We had a steady kind of trip. It was never epic, we just pecked away all day long. Capt. Rob put us on the fish.”

The veteran Manteo crew ran the usual spread of teasers, dredges and ballyhoo. Sea I Sea currently sits with 1,000 points with another 6.5 hours of competition remaining. Wave Paver is just ahead with 1,150 points.

“We’re going to go out there tomorrow, have a good time and just enjoy it. We’ll let the chips fall where they may,” Mills adds.

Inspiration, a 55 Jarrett Bay skippered by Capt. Casey Wagner was one of several boats that wrapped up their week with a flourish. The team released five sailfish and one white, including a double-header on Thursday.

“We fished straight out today and found a little grass and green water,” says mate Parker Henry of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. “We were by ourselves for the most part. We had a good day, but not a crazy day for us. The seas were very smooth.”

The hustle along the Pirate’s Cove Marina docks and Sponsor Pavilion didn’t slow down, either. Host sponsor Golfito Marina Village showcased the latest news on their state-of-the-art development in Costa Rica, while Diamond Sponsor Simrad manned the expansive display of touch-screen wizardry. Cheerful volunteer bartenders poured the coolest libations from Goslings, Jefferson’s and Tito’s for participants and guests as they wandered among the many booths and displays. Release Marine, a Sapphire Sponsor, featured gleaming teak fighting chairs and other fine yacht furniture.

“Everyone who is competing on the big-game circuit wants to fish this event,” says Ryan McKenzie, vice president of sales and marketing for Release Marine. “These are our customers and we want to be here supporting them and cheering them on. The guys fishing this one are as good as any on the water.”

First-time sponsor John Blumenthal with Clean Air Marine has been impressed with the whole Pirate’s Cove experience. The company sells compact air purifiers for yachts, RVs and residences.

“The Carolina hospitality is unbelievable,” he says. “This has been a prime spot to introduce our air purification products to the sport-fishing community and the response has been great. I’ll definitely be back.”

Forty-six boats will be back too, for one last attempt to top the 20-fish threshold. Come 3 p.m. Friday, the clock watching will finally be over.