Final Flourish

So much for a slow bite. The billfish apparently got the memo that Friday was the last day of fishing for the 2017 PCBT. Because they were chewin’ yet again for the 46 boats trolling the Gulf Stream. Another 75 were brought to leader, including 16 blue marlin, 25 sails and 34 whites. For the week, 555 billfish were released by the 79-boat fleet. In comparison, 520 were tallied last year by 72 boats and 322 was the score in 2015 with 56 boats. Good teams capitalize on every available opportunity and that was the case again this year.

Sea Hag (61 Blackwell) run by Capt. Dave Ed Graham earned top daily honors with six fish, good for 700 points. Builder’s Choice, a 64 Jarrett Bay with Capt. Brant Gaskill on the wheel, was second with five whites and a blue one. Harris Huddle is the boat’s owner.

“We had a good time. We were on the 200 line at 200 fathoms plus where we found some beautiful blue water,” he says. “We were marking a lot of bait, so we stuck right there and plowed it out. All the fish were singles.” Builder’s Choice earned the distinction of releasing the 500th billfish of the 2017 tournament.

“The fishing was off just a little bit,” Huddle added. “We had some slow days and some right good days like today. I love this tournament. We started coming in the late ‘90s and haven’t missed one since and it really looks like it’s on the upswing.”

Capt. Will Ross of Wanchese and his crew aboard Full Choke, a 38 Jarrett Bay, ended the week on a high note as well. Ross and Company fished due east of Oregon Inlet and released the first fish of the day at 8:49, a blue. They would go on to tally two more blues and whites apiece.

“Today was the windiest day of the week, but it wasn’t rough,” Ross says. “After we got that first one we tried for the daily. Fishing was good overall, real good, with a nice mix blues, whites and sails. It took 20 releases to win. The Pirate’s Cove is one of the best tournaments. Heather (Maxwell, director) and her crew have really brought it back. It’s first class.”

With more than 550 billfish releases, it’s easy to overlook the game fish divisions, but two quality fish were weighed on Friday. Horse Play scaled a 65.4 tuna, while Desperado (VA) brought in the largest dolphin of the week. That bull tipped the scales at 50.7 pounds.

The 2017 PCBT wrapped up with dinner, libations and the awards presentation Friday evening at the Pavilion at the Pirate’s Cove Marina.