It wasn’t quite James Bond-like mayhem, but pretty darn close. Just as the fleet was returning from offshore Friday, the skies opened up, punctuated by thunderous clouds and bolts of jagged lightning, making for a wet affair at the scoring tent just inside Rudee Inlet. Fortunately no boats were damaged, cameras stayed mostly dry and soggy scorecards still count in the standings.
Seventy-eight boats fished Friday and a good number of them managed to release whites, blues and even a solo spearfish. Appropriately, Top Hooker was the top boat for the day, racking up 210 points. Successful billfish releases score 70 points apiece. Capt. Will Atkinson runs the 61 Blackwell, based in Manteo, North Carolina.
Ten other boats are tied with two releases each. Standings are determined by the time of the release, which puts Sea Trader (Capt. Shey Mahoney), a 60 Hatteras from Virginia Beach, in second place with two whites set free.
Sea Striker, a 61 Jarrett Bay based in Morehead City, North Carolina, is in third place with two whites to its credit. Capt Pete Zook is the skipper of the Sea Striker.
Another local boat, Katherine Anne, is currently in fourth place with two whites on the ledger. Hunter Winchester wound in the largest dolphin of the day, a 41.4-pound bull after a 10-minute fight.
“It was nice out there, but we didn’t see a lot of bait. We caught the two whites and two dolphin for the day,” Strickland said. Brad Wachowiak, a VBBT board member, is the owner of the 63 Spencer. Curtis Colgate is fishing on Katherine Anne for the VBBT.
“It was a little rough on the way out, maybe threes to fours,” Colgate said back at the tent. “But it was smooth coming back in. We were up in the Norfolk Canyon and I’ll bet it will be crowded out there tomorrow.”
Friday’s action was a little slow by typical VBBT standards. A total of 49 billfish were released, including 40 whites, eight blues and the single spearfish. A couple tuna were also brought to the scales before the deluge occurred.
All 79 boats will be heading offshore Saturday, hoping for a final-day flurry of doubles and triples. Angling hours are again 8:30 am to 3 pm. It’s a wide open field right now. But you can bet the Top Hooker crew is saying, “You Only Live Twice.”