The action offshore definitely improved on the last day of the 2022 VBBT. Several boats tallied releases but the big buzz centered on Sniper as it backed to the scales with a boated blue marlin. Once lifted over the seawall and hoisted aloft, it tipped the scales at 563.8 pounds, good for a score of 281.9 points. Marlin weighing more than 600 points earn a point per pound, so Sniper’s catch still didn’t push them atop the leaderboard. It made an impression on the team, though.

“We were fishing in a pack of other boats with plenty of bait and that fish ate a purple and black Bonze Violator lure on 80-pound tackle,” said Sniper’s Capt. Chris Raiford. “The fight lasted an hour and catching it was awesome, dude.” Bob Swope was the angler.

“The bite was better than the fight,” Swope explained. “It jumped once at the beginning and then one other time. When it first jumped it looked huge and we thought it was big enough for first place. But yeah, this is the best memory of my 10 years fishing this tournament.”

Jimmy Bayne is Sniper’s (58 Paul Mann) owner. “We’ve had a big summer. I just hang out on the boat and don’t do anything anymore,” he said with a laugh. “But that bite was insane. That fish came charging in, changed directions and attacked that lure.”

After a slow start the bite picked up on Saturday, with the more typical white marlin making an appearance. Seventeen whites were released by the 67 boats fishing, along with four sailfish and nine blue marlin. Seventeen boats took their mandatory lay day on Saturday.

Quick Sweep, a 57 Spencer run by Capt. Jimmy Werling, was the top boat on Saturday, releasing two photo-verified blues worth 400 points. Trip Patrick and Westin Bomnskie are the mates.

Previous VBBT Champion Sea Toy, with Capt. Bull Tolson on the helm, was other daily billfish winner on Saturday. The veteran team released a verified blue marlin, plus two whites, good for 340 points.That performance, along with a sailfish release on Friday, vaulted the team into second place in the overall standings.

This year marks the first for blue marlin verification. Billfish releases count for 70, but blue marlin documented with photos or video earn an extra 130 points.

A total of 84 teams competed in the 19th year of this invitational charity event. The awards presentation will be held later Saturday night under the headquarters tent at Rudee Point.