In most normal work weeks Wednesday is considered “Hump Day” or over the halfway point to the anticipated weekend. But Tournament Week at the Pirate’s Cove Marina isn’t exactly normal and since the bulk of the fleet stayed ashore on Tuesday, Thursday is this year’s new hump threshold. It didn’t disappoint, as it’s now shaping up to be another exciting fight to the finish for the 40th annual crown. Throw in some expected rougher conditions on Friday and it should be sporty in more ways than one.
Several boats were on a hot bite Thursday, including Fin Planner, Sweet Spot, Bi-Op-Sea and Goombay. But others, like Slow Your Roll, Safari, Carterican and Double G added to their ledgers for a possible last-day charge. Capt. Chris Kubik and the team aboard Sweet Spot, a 62 Spencer, lived up to the name.
“It was a slow start,” Kubik explained. “We didn’t see or mark anything, but about mid-morning we saw a whole family of sails. We came tight on three but only managed to catch one with just our two anglers. Another pod popped up after noon and we scored two of three on them. Then, at 1:24, I marked a blue one (blue marlin) and it came in on the flat line, ate the naked ballyhoo bait and cooperated on the dink pole. The fight lasted about 15 minutes, the fish stayed on top and it was very, very smooth.
“I started the day at the 800s, but we kept fishing up into the mid-upper 900s,” Kubik adds. “There were plenty of boats around. We’ve got our work cut out for us tomorrow. We’ve got to get after it, the competition is so tough. We just have to make the most of all our opportunities and get on the board early.”
Perennial contender Bi-Op-Sea scored four sails on the day to move into striking distance. Capt. Jesse Granitzki was asked how the crew does it so consistently.
“We’ve got a good team,” Granitzki says. “I’ve had the same mate since 2008, so this is our 16th year fishing together and that definitely helps. We also have a good core group of anglers. If we can find a few bites, they make it happen.”
Granitzki said conditions were a little choppy to start and got rougher as the afternoon wore on. Bi-Op-Sea was fishing about 38 to 45 miles northeast of the Oregon Inlet in depths from the upper 40s to mid-50s fathoms. The bites were scattered and every one was in a different spot.
“I don’t know what our game plan is yet for tomorrow,” he says. “Fin Planner was way up there and they did well but other boats around didn’t. If we can catch 3, 4 or 5 sails again tomorrow, maybe we’ll be in contention.”
Thursday’s daily winners were Fin Planner (58 Buddy Cannady/Capt. Chris Gornell) with six sailfish and a blue marlin and past PCBT champion Builder’s Choice (64 Jarrett Bay/Capt. Brent Gaskill) with four sails and a blue. Angie Schumann, competing on Play It By Ear (61 Viking/Capt. Ralph Griffin) jumped to the top of the dolphin leaderboard with a 35.2-pound entry.
Going into Friday’s contest, seven boats are separated by 200 points or less. A handful of sailfish releases—or a blue or two—will determine the final outcome. Standing by…
Credits: Courtesy of Sweet Spot, Capt. Tony Lombardi, Capt. Dave Lear