Manteo, North Carolina:
And on Wednesday, the fleet rested.
Only one boat, Due South, opted to fish on Wednesday and with no billfish releases, the overall standings didn’t change. The format for the PCBT calls for a single declared lay day amongst the four total fishing days, so barring any mechanical or other unexpected issues, the entire fleet will be back out Thursday in search of cooperative marlin, sailfish and spearfish. Dolphin, wahoo and tuna are also eligible in the game fish divisions. The heaviest fish in each of those categories captures the winner-take-all jackpots.
As to the billfish search, the dock buzz on Wednesday focused on conditions possibly improving to the north. If that is indeed the case, the bulk of the fleet may motor towards Virginia. Desperado (NC), the early leader with 550 points, was fishing due east of the inlet on Tuesday. Either way, there are plenty of crews staring at sea surface temperature charts, color changes and any other available data to increase their odds. With nearly $700,000 in the collective tournament pot, the stakes are high. One boat already had a simple strategy for Thursday.
“Desperado VA is going to follow Desperado NC all day long,” Joe Woodington said with a hearty laugh. Woodington owns Desperado VA, a 68-foot B&D Boatworks and is a long-time Pirate’s Cove contestant.
Despite the fishing hiatus, the docks and Pavilion were somewhat subdued Wednesday evening in anticipation of two long days ahead. Still, the dinner lines stretched out as anglers and families picked up plates of sirloin tips, rice pilaf, shrimp and grits and delicious desserts, provided by Lone Cedar Cafe. The bartenders inside were busy pouring drinks as well. Liz Simpson has been the bar crew organizer for the last 20 years.
“I recruit people I know from the community, those who work or live at Pirate’s Cove,” Simpson explains. “We have six bartenders and one bar back every night. A lot of them have restaurant experience and all are great with people. I get here every morning to clean up and re-organize. The drink of the day is established months ahead so we can prepare and highlight the sponsors.”
Between the Alice Kelly and PCBT, Simpson says they will go through 40 cases of Tito’s Vodka, the Platinum Bar sponsor. Gosling Rum, Jefferson’s Bourbon and Jagermeister are three more premium liquor sponsors. City Beverage, a local distributor, supplies Budweiser products, along with some craft beers. Hundreds of pounds of ice and cups are used throughout the week.
“My favorite part is the people aspect,” Simpson adds. “It’s great seeing everyone from year to year and catching up with family news. I love the tournament people.”
The tournament people, at least those heading offshore Thursday, will be getting to bed early. Come 8:30 am, however, it’ll be all hands on deck, ready for those reel drag alarms to go off.