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Tournament Reports – Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament

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The 36th annual Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament took place August 13-17. More than $700,00 in cash prizes was on the line for the 71 boats fishing the waters off of Oregon Inlet. Over the course of four days of fishing, 28 sizeable billfish were brought to the scales, while 124 fish were caught and released, including 82 sailfish, 31 blue marlin, and 11 white marlin.

The event usually raises around $80,000-100,000 for the Interstate Community Outreach Cancer Program, through a raffle, as well makes donations to several other community charities.

For the Desperado, a 56-foot Taylor Harrison manned by Capt. Rob Barker and a crew of 7-8 men, rain and windy weather wouldn’t stop them from continuing to successfully raise billfish. The team won nearly $200,000 and the first place title for their seven billfish releases: two blue marlin and five sailfish which scored them over 1,000 points.

Craig Sudbrink, Billy Carter, Mickey Carter, Ron Wade, Andy Gay, and Jeff Craven were the anglers, and Braxton Rigsbee and Jeff James were the mates.

The first day was their most successful. The team brought in a blue marlin and three sailfish. The second day was a bit slower, with only one sail caught, and the third day of fishing was what put them ahead of the other teams with one blue marlin and one sailfish.

Taking second place was The General, a 55’ Buddy Cannady from Morehead City. Capt. Wade Flickling, his two mates Alberto Ramos and Trey Sadler, and anglers Zach Schuch, Brad Schendt, Brandon Barnham, Andrew Farrar, Thomas Eller, and Adam Johnson won $104,542 with six billfish releases, scoring over 900 points.

Desperado, with Capt. Rob Barker, took top honors in the 2019 Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament with seven billfish releases: two blues and five sailfish.

Third place went to the team of Skirt Chaser, a 53’ Buddy Cannady. With Capt. Barry Daniels at the wheel and Gunner Jones and Billy Dickerson mating, the anglers John Elvers, Justin Huntley, Dillon Jones, Dennis Fitzgerald, and Lanier Riddick had no trouble pulling in the bills. The team caught and released four billfish, scoring 700 points and earning them $136,343.

Sliding into fourth place with four billfish releases and 700 points was Capt. Carl Beale and the crew of Natural, a 56’ Ricky Scarborough. Fifth place went to the crew and Capt. Bull Tolson of Sea Toy, a 59’ Spencer Yachts which reeled in seven fish for 700 points.

The 2020 Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament is scheduled for August 8-14, and more information can be found at