Qualifier Tops Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament

An outstanding blue marlin catch vaults the team to victory

2017 virginia beach billfish tournament
Qualifier swept nearly all the major categories en route to victory.Courtesy Ted Lewis

Tournament fishing requires serious dedication and attention to every detail, but a healthy dose of good luck sure doesn't hurt. Capt. Fin Gaddy had never won a major tournament but he had a good feeling going into the 14th annual Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament. He had an experienced charter party aboard his 57-foot Paul Mann, Qualifier, when the fish of a lifetime struck on the second day of the tournament. After a remarkably short fight, the blue marlin was secured on deck; back at the scales, it weighed an impressive 801 pounds. Combined with two sailfish releases, it was enough to lift Qualifier into first place, earning the team over $237,000.

2017 virginia beach billfish tournament
The only blue marlin weighed during the event was Craig Revere's 801-pounder on Qualifier.Courtesy Patrick (Buzz) Hayes

Capt. Harvey Shiflet and the Anticipation team are having another great season this year. They placed second in the tournament with 12 white marlin and one spearfish, all released, for 910 points. Anticipation is a 61 Spencer. Day Maker, a 58-foot B&D captained by Bobby Krivohlavek, finished third with nine white marlin. Another Spencer boat, the 70-foot Plane Simple, landed in fourth with nine white marlin, falling just short of the top three on time. Obsession, Jeff Ross' 55 Sheldon Midgett, rounded out the top five with eight sailfish releases.

In this year's tournament there were 75 participating teams and 541 anglers, fishing for a cash purse of $525,500. There were 263 billfish released: 12 blue marlin, 218 white marlin, 21 sailfish and 12 spearfish. Qualifier's blue marlin was the only billfish weighed.

2017 virginia beach billfish tournament
The Anticipation team celebrates their runner-up finish.Courtesy Ted Lewis
2017 virginia beach billfish tournament
With nine white marlin, Daymaker rounded out the top three.Courtesy Ted Lewis
2017 virginia beach billfish tournament
Capt. Jimmy Werling led Plane Simple to fourth place.Courtesy Ted Lewis
2017 virginia beach billfish tournament
Obsession, with Capt. Jeff Ross, placed fifth overall.Courtesy Ted Lewis
2017 virginia beach billfish tournament
Obsession also had the largest wahoo of the tournament.Courtesy Ted Lewis
2017 virginia beach billfish tournament
A 47-pound dolphin was the largest of the event, caught by Johnny Wise on Top Hooker.Courtesy Ted Lewis