There’s good news for billfish enthusiasts. The Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament kicks off today and steady action is expected in the canyons later this week. With some of the top light-tackle teams from the Mid-Atlantic gathered to take on blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish and game fish, the scoring promises to be fast and furious, as is typical for this prestigious invitational event.
Dockside will be a different story this year, however, due to the health precautions and public safety concerns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The big top tent remains in storage. The nightly parties are cancelled. But tournament officials and the team of volunteers are making every effort to shift the fanfare directly to the boats in their slips.
“There will be no in-person registration or team bag pick-ups Wednesday,” explains Deirdre Bell Loftin, VBBT’s marketing director. “All registration, angler roster and other forms will be on-line only through Tournament Control. The direct links are all posted on the tournament’s web site home page.
“Team bags will be delivered directly to the boats Wednesday evening,” she adds. “We’ll also be delivering dinner every night around 5:30 to 6 pm, along with liquid refreshments. Each boat will also get a lime green and blue VBBT flag to display, so everyone can identify the other teams.”
PointClickFish.com will be providing live feeds throughout the week on its web site, as well as the VBBT web site and FaceBook page. Capt. Jay Feimster and his experienced team are well equipped to handle this unique special event.
“We have three of us on-site and our graphics/programmer at our home office to fully cover the tournament,” Feimster. “We want to make it easy for people to find our content, so it’ll be posted in all three locations.” Special alerts will be posted for breaking news, like if a blue marlin is coming in to the scales.
In addition to the live feeds, teams and family members who want to keep up with the action are encouraged to download the free smart phone app developed just for the VBBT. It’s available for iPhones at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/virginia-beach-billfish/id904154909?mt=8 or Android phones at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.reeltimeapps.vbbt
As part of the virtual kick-off festivities tonight, Heather Edwards and Nathan Firth will be playing a remote concert, starting at 6 pm, streamed on the tournament FaceBook page.
Fishing begins Thursday morning at 8:30 am with lines out by 3 pm. Teams have a choice of competing two of three days, concluding Saturday afternoon. Boats must stay within 100 miles of Rudee Inlet Sea Buoy. The targets include blue and white marlin, plus sailfish, worth 70 points apiece for successful release. Blue marlin weighing 400 to 599.9 pounds are worth 0.5 points per pound at the scales. Fished topping 600 pounds or heavier score 1 point per pound. Tuna, dolphin and wahoo can also be weighed in the game fish divisions.