The sailfish are flying off the shelves faster than composition books and pencils on a back-to-school checklist. August is typically called the dog days of summer due to the oppressive heat, but if this pace keeps up, the teams fishing the 40th annual PCBT might rename it the Summer Sails Event. A total of 207 billfish were released by the 88 boats fishing on Wednesday and 192 of them were sailfish. The top five boats tallied 40 sails collectively. Double G, a 57 Dixon owned by two brothers relatively new to the tournament scene, was the top dog of the day. With veteran Capt. Rob Constantineau at the helm, the crew jumped into the early lead with 10 sailfish releases, worth 1,000 points.
“”We started off early with two singles, a triple, two real quick singles, a double, then a single,” Constantineau explained. “We had five or six more bites but didn’t connect. All in all it was a great day.” Double G was trolling dink ballyhoo on 25-pound test line with 50-pound leaders, a typical set-up for the light-tackle finesse style the Outer Banks late summer season is known for. The team consists of the two owners, a couple of their buddies, plus the skipper and two young friends/mates.
“There is no doubt, this is one of the best fleets on the East Coast,” Constantineau adds. “Then you get an influx from Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina and the competition doesn’t get any stiffer. It’s pretty humbling to have the day we did, but I’m grateful and blessed. Hopefully we can finish strong.”
Blue Bill, a custom Wanchese sportfisher, had a strong day as well. Owner Robert High said they ran north through choppy seas to start before things settled down and the bite turned on.
“We had seven fish by 10:34, all pretty much together,” he says. “We had a triple, double, then three singles. This afternoon was pretty slow. We did see a fair amount of bait balls, but no flyers or grass the whole day.” High said there were a lot of boats fishing the area they were in.
Captain Sean Dooley on the Viking 80C factory boat also pointed the bow to the north and east. The crew found a few pods of bait which produced fish, a few slicks and rips but no grass or weed lines.
“”We had a couple groups of multiple fish at once, but only scored one double and the rest singles,” Dooley explained. “We were using naked ballyhoo on light tackle.” He plans to head back to the same general area on Thursday but expects strong competition.
“It’s getting tougher every year,” he says. Dooley has been fishing the PCBT since the early 2000s. “Every team is getting better and better.”
Rigged Up, a classic 54 Omie Tillet run by Capt. Charles Haywood, was the second-place boat of the day with eight sails to its credit. Capt. Mike King led the Blue Bill team to a third-place standing, also with eight sails, followed by Viking 80C, Goombay and Fistful with seven sailfish apiece. Fourteen blue marlin were released on Wednesday, along with a single white.
In the game fish divisions, the top entries included a 59.2-pound tuna, cranked in by Brad Schendt aboard The General, a 55 Buddy Cannady with Capt. Max Weaver. The top wahoo was caught on Top Dog (60 Buddy Cannady/Capt. Ryan Knapp), by Leo Romano. That fish tipped the scales at 48.4 pounds.
The 88-boat fleet will head offshore again Thursday, angling for more than $1.2 million dollars in prize money. Will the sailfish stick around the rest of the week or is it time for the typical hot white marlin bite to turn on? With this fun shopping, there’s probably not going to be complaints either way.
Credits: Courtesy of Double G, Capt. Tony Lombardi