It wasn’t a blind date or job interview, but Katherine Anne made a very good impression Thursday. The locally based 63 Spencer racked up seven white marlin releases to take a strong early lead in the 18th annual VBBT. Capt. Daniel “Backlash” Davis is the boat’s skipper.

“All our fish were singles on naked ballyhoo,” he explained back in port. “We were outside the Norfolk [Canyon] and it was beautiful with winds from the southwest about 10 to 15 knots. There was a little bit of swell coming back inside, but none out there. We had a nice breeze that kept it cool.” Davis, who is fishing with the boat’s owner and friends, said the water temperatures were 80 to 81 degrees. Flying fish were everywhere, with the whites scattered amongst them.

“It was a very fun day and we’re going again Friday,” he added. “There’s only one place to go and that’s down, so we’ll hope, pray and see what happens. There are a lot of good fishermen just getting started.”

Twenty-nine boats (out of 81 total) chose to take their lay day on Thursday, leaving the two remaining days open to fish. All eyes are on the weather, though, with Tropical Storm Henri churning far offshore.

Builder’s Choice, a 64 Jarret Bay based in New Bern, North Carolina, continued a hot streak by releasing three whites and one blue marlin on Thursday. The boat took the daily honors in the Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament with a solid last day effort. Several other boats are currently tied with three releases apiece. Billfish successfully let go score 70 points apiece. Eligible species include blues and whites, sailfish and spearfish. Cotton Picker, a 60 Spencer based in Savannah, Georgia, was one of the boats with 210 points on its early scorecard.

“It was a bit choppy to the east/northeast but not bad,” said Cotton Picker’s captain, Geno Sauers. “We had four tuna and a white on at once today. We caught one tuna and then the white started jumping. We released it and then fought the tuna for 30 to 45 minutes. One weighed 74.2 pounds and the other was 55.”

Sauers, who says the VBBT is his favorite tournament to fish, isn’t sure about plans for Friday yet.

“The old timers around here say a storm really turns on the bite. I didn’t want to cheat myself by not fishing today, but I preferred to wait and fish the last two days because of that low pressure. We’ll probably go tomorrow, but I am watching that storm.”

Fishing resumes Friday and concludes Saturday afternoon. Families and friends who want to follow the action can download the mobile app to check on live scoring. To download, go to the applicable App Store and select the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament app for the Apple or Android device.

The 81-boat fleet is competing for a record purse of $785,250 this year. Thirty-five boats entered the optional Legacy Jackpot division, which will split that portion among two places, with a cut going to the tournament’s chosen charities.

Will Katherine Anne lock it all up Friday or will a challenger emerge? The clock is ticking and the action resumes at 8:30 am with Henri still swirling.