Frequent Flyers

Manteo, North Carolina:

The Wright Brothers must have been billfishermen, too. The two aviation pioneers used a strong westerly wind to gain enough lift to launch their flimsy aeroplane from dunes at nearby Kitty Hawk many years ago. A strong west win also benefitted the 70 boats fishing Friday in the last day of the 36th annual Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament. After an unusually slow start to the week, the fish turned on for the last day of the contest. A total of 67 billfish were released, including 53 sailfish, 13 blue marlin and one white. One additional blue marlin was boated, but it did not meet tournament requirements and was not weighed.

Skirt Chaser was the top boat for the day with three fish, good for 600 points. Capt. Barry Daniels is on the throttles of the 53 Buddy Cannady. Capt. Arch Bracher on Pelican led his team to six releases, also scoring 600 points. The first release of the day was wound in by Bi-Op-Sea at 9:06 am.

Sea Toy, with Capt. Bull Tolson at the helm, put his team of experienced anglers on five sailfish, plus a bunch more. Sea Toy was fishing along the upper 900 line among several other contestants. A triple-header and two singles comprised the day’s tally.

“We had some bites today and didn’t capitalize. We pulled off a lot of fish,” recalled angler Jim Bayne.

The General made another strong push Friday after racking up good numbers the previous day. The crew released two sails and one verified blue marlin.

“We hooked that marlin on the dink pole,” explained Capt. Wade Fickling. The dink pole had 25-pound test line and 60-pound leader, so it took awhile to get the fish to the boat and confirmed by digital photography. Verified blue marlin added an extra 150 points to the normal 100 scored for a release.

“We were lucky to get that blue. Afterwards we made it up around the triple zeros where a lot of other boats where,” Fickling added. “We hooked up a triple-header on sails and got two, broke off the other.”

David King, fishing aboard J&B, a 55 Wanchese with Capt. Alan Murray, whipped a 45.6-pound dolphin to finish out the week. Henry Roster on Haphazard also weighed a 53.4-pound wahoo on Friday. Haphazard is a 61 Billy Holton run by Capt. Joey Belton.

Throughout the day, the leaderboard was changing faster than a FA-18 fighter jet screaming off the deck of an aircraft carrier. Those westerly tail winds sure do help with launch mode whether it’s flying or in this case, tournament fishing.