How quickly things can shift. Around lunchtime Saturday, Wall Hanger, the tournament leader since the first day, had to be feeling pretty good. The team added another sailfish to the tally and looked in control. But a pack of ravenous sailfish can flip the scoreboard quicker than a grand slam home run and everything changes. This was one of those days.

Just Right, a 56 Viking run by Capt. Robbie Brown Jr., was just right Saturday. The team racked up nine sailfish releases to add to the first day score (sail and verified blue) to vault into first place. The team finished with 900 points.

All In, a 58 Blackwell with Capt. Daniel Caison at the helm, also had a productive last day, scoring 550 points after releasing five sailfish and adding a verified blue marlin. That late push moved the team into second place overall with 890 points. Wall Hanger will settle for third place with 820 points.

Capt. Mike Resch led his local team aboard Gratitude (60 Spencer) to the top boat honors on Saturday by releasing eight sailfish and a confirmed blue marlin.

“We were very fortunate today,” Resch says. “It was a steady pick all day. We started with a double, then added a triple and kept pounding it out. Right before lines out at 2:45 we got one blue out of double. All were on dink baits. There were some boats above and below me, but I held off the edge of a weed line to stay clear of all the dolphin and that’s where the billfish were.

“I love fishing the VBBT,” Resch adds. “The Committee Boat is top notch, the ladies do a great job and it’s just a fun tournament.” Gratitude is based in the Virginia Beach area but travels quite a bit fishing other destinations.

Builder’s Choice, a 64 Jarrett Bay run by Capt. Brent Gaskill, also made a furious dash to the finish, only to come up short.

“It was a fun day,” Gaskill explained. “That first day we sucked. But today we had a triple, two singles and a double (sailfish), all on dink ballyhoo. It was very crowded down around the 800 to 900 Line. It was choppy at first but we ran straight down along the beach towards Oregon Inlet and then went out from there. It was still a little choppy but not bad. There was a green to blue color change with some grass and most of the fish were inside that. We got lucky and were able to hold on to some fish. Everybody was on a good bite today.”

The dinner and awards ceremony for the 20th Annual VBBT is taking place later Saturday evening. The 75-boat fleet was angling for $845,750 in overall prize money. In addition to billfish, game fish categories for dolphin, tuna and wahoo will also award cash prizes.

A race to the finish is a great way to cap off two decades of blue-water angling excellence. The next edition promises even more nail-biting excitement from some of the top teams in the sport.

Photo credits: Courtesy of Gratitude and Capt. Dave Lear