August 15, 2015; Manteo, North Carolina:
By Capt. Dave Lear
In the end their lead proved to be insurmountable.
After jumping ahead on Thursday, Sea I Sea held off several challengers to win top honors in this week’s 32nd Annual Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament. The Viking 66, run by Capt. Rob Mahoney and owned by Don Mills, pocketed $175,400 for catching 15 billfish overall. The top team released 11 white and four blue marlin during three days of fishing to tally 1,500 points. A total of 56 teams were competing for nearly $468,000 in overall prize money.
“It’s just so exciting, words cannot express how I feel right now,” Mills said after Friday night’s awards presentation. “I’m happy for my whole crew and Capt. Rob, they’re all like family. We were just very blessed and fortunate to be here.”
Uno Mas mounted a serious challenge on the last day only to come up a little short. Led by owner Brooks Smith and Capt. Tommy Lynskey, the 68 Bayliss released 11 billfish (eight white marlin and three sailfish), including five on Friday, to earn second-place honors and $117,840.
Dirty Business, a 58 Paul Mann owned by Paul Hebert and run by Capt. Newt Cagle, was named the third-place team overall. The release of nine white and one blue marlin, based on time, was good for a $57,560 payout.
Two other boats also released 10 billfish to round out the top five teams, based on time. Skirt Chaser, a Buddy Cannady 53, was fourth (nine whites and one sailfish), while Sally Girl, a 57 Ricky Scarborough, was fifth with nine whites and one blue marlin released.
The daily prize money for most releases per day was split between the top two boats. Sea I Sea and Uno Mas won Days 3 and 4 top honors, respectively, while Instigator was the top boat on the second day. Not enough boats fished the first day to meet the required minimum. The Top Daily prize was worth $31,500. Desperado, Haphazard and Hey Chama all earned $13,500 as the second-place top daily teams.
Blue marlin were eligible in the weight division, but none were caught that met the required 400-pound cut-off. In the game fish categories, the Viking 70 factory boat won the dolphin prize and $12,375 for a hefty 63.6-pounder. Piracy brought in the largest tuna of the week, a 56.3-pound yellowfin, that was also worth $12,375.
Erick Jones, fishing aboard Jesus Freak, a 48 Blackwell with Capt. David Walker at the helm, was named the Top Angler. Jones scored 600 points by hooking—releasing—four white and one blue marlin, plus a sailfish.
Pam Ella Simmons, competing aboard Salvation, a restored 49 Omie Tillet run by Capt. Will Hodges, was the Top Lady Angler for 2015. Simmons scored seven whites and one blue marlin.
Competing on Smoker, a 56 Forbes, Parker Byrd was named the Top Junior Angler for the week. Capt. Brynner Parks guided the teenager to six white marlin catches.
A total of 322 billfish were released throughout the week, including 239 white marlin, 39 blue marlin, 32 sailfish and 12 spearfish. Based at the Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo, North Carolina, 425 anglers competed in this 32nd annual sport-fishing event.