Courtesy Cuttin’ Up/PointClickFish.com
A string of pike catches on the final day plus the weighing of potential contender blue marlin added drama to the 19th annual Virginia Beach pike championship, but the action wasn’t enough to overcome captains Nick Jones and Cuttin’ 612.5 Up staff recorded their first day of fishing.
With the power of a fish, the 64-foot Vikings Cuttin’ Up finished the game as the overall points leader. Between the points payout and various jackpots, Jones and the crew won $281,400. The total prize money for the competition is $813,000.
Tensions rose on the final day when the 58-foot Paul Mann sniper, captained by Chris Raiford, announced he would be returning to weigh in a large blue marlin. It turned out that the fish was nearly 50 pounds less than the standard deviation and weighed 563.8 pounds, with a score of 281.9, but not enough to be accounted for. According to the rules of the game, blue marlin over 600 pounds is awarded one point per pound. The Blues scored half points per pound from 400 to 599 pounds. Angler Josh Bowen caught the winning marlin. This is the only fish Cuttin’Up has caught in two days at sea.
The contest is three days long, and fishing is possible on any two days. The race boundary is 100 nautical miles from Rudee Inlet Sea Buoy. Most of the 84 registered captains chose to stay on the dock on their first day. Only 41 boats ventured at sea and only 18 fish, including the winning blue marlin, were caught or weighed. The last day saw 67 boats on the water. Thirty-two fish were caught and registered; all but one were longbills. Overall, 66 catches were recorded during the campaign, including 16 blue marlin, 12 sailfish and 27 white marlin. All but two weighed blue marlins were released.
Former VBBT champion Sea Toy, captained by Bull Tolson, finished second in the overall points race with 410 points, narrowly beating the other three boats. The team achieved an excellent result, releasing one blue marlin and two white marlins through validation on the final day. Sea Toy’s total payout was $113,400.
The two proven blue Marlins released by Quick Sweep on Saturday, captained by Captain Jimmy Werling, the 57-foot Spencer, also saw some serious competition from this team. They finished with 400 points and $159,000 in prize money.
The other two teams with 400 points were Welder’s Ark, captained by Dale Britt, and Mister Pete, captained by Alan Neiford. Welder’s Ark, a 55-foot Jarrett Bay, won $79,800, while Mister Pete, a 58-foot C&L, won $32,400.
A new rule this year is that boats will receive 130 extra points if they provide photos verifying their blue marlin releases. Generally, any flounder release counts as 70 points. Recording the fish with a time-stamped photo or video clearly showing the catch was a blue marlin, bringing the total score for this fish to 200. A verification ribbon, color-coded by fishing day, and a scorecard needed to take a photo or video at the official VBBT weighing station.
In the game fish category, the heaviest dolphin was Rob Johnson at 18.9 pounds on the Seafix. The largest tuna was a 61.2-pound fish, weighed by Alex Strangways, fished on Fender Bender. Fly ‘N Fish angler Jeff Hunter took home the heaviest wahoo at 58.6 pounds. Pays $14,000 per heaviest game fish.
Other cash prize winners include: Wave Runner, Capt. Bobby Sullivan, $29,400; Junk Knot, Capt. Barry Sawyer, $21,000; Sea Trader, Captain Shey Mahoney, $21,000; Don’t Panic, Capt. Brian Peele, $21,000 ; Sally Girl, Capt. Jason Krahenbill, $12,600; BB, Capt. Chris Bailey, $5,000; and Courtney Beth, Capt. Ryan Dickerson (Connor O’Day’s Junior Angler Award), $1,000.