Cuttin’ Up, a 64 Viking owned by Steve Jones and run by his son, Capt. Nick Jones, struck early and held on to win the 19th Annual Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament. With angler Josh Bowen on the rod, the team boated a blue marlin weighing 612.5 pounds on Thursday, good for 612.5 points. That catch held on and won the team a total payout of $281,400. Among the awards were Top Boat, Billfish Jackpot, High Rollers Jackpot, Daily and Blue Marlin Jackpot. Cuttin’ Up also won the Top Overall Angler, Top Crew and the F. Wayne McLeskey Memorial Trophy as the top boat.
Travis Jones and Skip Price are Cuttin’ Up’s mates. The other teammates were Hunter Darouse, Dan Mackey, Ryan McDougal, Dave Darouse, Mitch McDougal and Berton Neighbors, all from Virginia.
Sea Toy, a previous VBBT Champion, made a late charge Saturday to earn second-place honors. Capt. Bull Tolson, David Biggs, Ken and Amanda Cofer, Tommy Fowler, Timmy Cullins and Dan Stephano, along with mates Catlin Peele and Ross Tolson, earned a payout of $113,400 for second-place boat, Billfish Jackpot, High Rollers and 2nd Billfish Daily (Day 3). Amanda Cofer won the Kitty Falk Memorial Trophy as the top Lady Angler with two billfish releases.
Weldor’s Ark, a 55 Jarrett Bay owned by John Roberts and run by Capt. Dale Britt, was the third-place team overall. The boat released two verified blue marlin and earned $79,800 in prize money. John Roberts was also awarded a trophy as the Top Release Angler for those two fish.
Quick Sweep (57 Spencer) earned fourth-place honors as top boat after taking the Saturday daily. The team released two verified blue marlin and won $159,000, including first-place in the Legacy Jackpot division. Quick Sweep is owned by Brad Adam, with Capt. Jimmy Werling, Westin Bomnskie and Trip Patrick as crew.
Mister Pete, a 58 C&L run by Capt. Alan Neiford and owned by Rusty McClam III, won a payout of $32,400 and the fifth-place boat award after two blues. The team also took second place in the Legacy Jackpot division. Boyce Campsen and Joe West are the boat’s mates.
Daily Billfish Jackpot winners included Waverunner (53 Bobby Sullivan/Capt. Pat Foster) for top daily and Sally Girl (57 Ricky Scarborough/Capt. Jason Krahenbill) for second place. Those payouts were worth $29,400 and $12,600, respectively. BB won the Wayne Sawyer’s Victory Lap Hard Charger Award for a double-header on sailfish.
In the Gamefish Divisions, Fender Bender (55 Jarrett Bay) won the top tuna catch after boating a 61.20-pound yellowfin. Alex Strangways was on the rod, with Capt. Colin Oxnard on the flying bridge. Capt. Jake Boltz guided Jeff Hunter to the heaviest wahoo at 58.6 pounds aboard Fly’N Fish, a 43 Cabo. Rob Johnson, fishing aboard SeaFix (61 Richie Howell)/Capt. John Thomas), made the most lucrative catch by boating an 18.9-pound dolphin. All three gamefish heaviest-take-all prizes were worth $14,000.
The Charity Mystery Fish Drawings were won by Waste Knot, Sea Trader, and Don’t Panic. In the other individual awards, Lee Albarty was named the Top Mate aboard Ann Warrick, taking home the Joel Webb Tribute to Excellence Trophy. Capt. Brad Diaz is Ann Warrick’s skipper. Connor Day won the Bryan “Pick” Dalheim Memorial Trophy as the top junior angler for gamefish with his 25.2-pound wahoo, fishing on Courtney Beth (42 Viking/Capt. Ryan Dickerson).
A total of 55 billfish were caught during the event, with 53 released. The tally included 16 blues (two boated), 12 sailfish and 27 white marlin. The poundage on wahoo, tuna and dolphin equaled 375.5 pounds.
“The bite wasn’t up to our usual standards to start,” said VBBT Tournament Director Paula Davis. “But we finished with a flourish and I’d like to thank all the teams for joining us again this year. We look forward to celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament next August 23-26, 2023.”