Subtle Shift?

Odds are really good the music playing aboard a certain sportfisher on Friday will be the melodic crooning of Willie Nelson. And the tune on the loop is guaranteed to be Blue Skies. That’s because Blue Sky, a 60 Spencer from Georgetown, South Carolina, scored three white marlin and one blue to take the overall lead going into the final day of competition. Capt. Jay Weaver runs the boat. Blue Sky released a sailfish earlier in the week.

“We were super close, about 30 miles east of the inlet,” Weaver explained. “There was a lot of bait around and all our bites were associated with the bait. We didn’t see any birds and not many flyers, but every now and then a tuna would pop up. We caught one marlin right off the daisy chain that we thought was a tuna at first. Water temperatures were 79 to 79.5 degrees. We missed a couple more whites, so overall it was good fishing.” Weaver said there were other boats in the area and he would likely head to the same spot on Friday.

Right Hook took the Top Daily prize with four billfish thanks to a five-minute lead, including a Grand Slam (blue, white and sailfish). An additional white marlin pushed the 58 Croswait, skippered by Capt. Austin Spitz, into second place overall. Trophy Hunter remains in third going into the final day, with Bi-Op-Sea, Annie O and Bill Collector within striking distance.

The bite improved somewhat from the first two days of the tournament, although it is still slow by typical standards for this time of year. Forty billfish were released on Thursday, including 10 blues, eight sailfish and 22 white marlin. Ten gamefish were also weighed for the day, with a hefty 69.6-pound wahoo wound in by Garth McGillewie on Chasin’ Tail (62 Spencer/Capt. Butch Davis) the top catch.

“There was not a lot of wind, but it was a little bumpy this morning,” says Sam Petrie, the mate on Desperado (NC). “It turned out beautiful this afternoon, though. Fishing was barely good. We did manage a couple whites on ballyhoo and saw quite a few flying fish. That northeast wind helps anytime, but ii was still slow. I think the bulk of the fish are moving on the eastern side of the Gulf Stream.”

A couple double-headers can quickly change the leaderboard. Verified blue marlin also add another 150 points to the score. The majority of the fleet (85), will be fishing on Friday, vying for a big share of the $1.407 million in total prize money.

“Blue skies smilin’ on me
Nothing but blue skies do I see
Blue days all of them gone
Nothing but blue skies from now on”