At Pirate’s Cove fishing derby, a last-minute win for Outer Banks residents – The Virginian-Pilot
Down 50 points just five minutes from the end of the Pirate’s Cove Billfish tournament, captain Charles Foreman thought his Country Girl team would have to settle for second place.
With 85 boats vying for the top prize from August 15-18, it would be a very good performance, but Foreman was worried. The 60′ Blue Sky and the 58′ Right Hook were only 50 points behind his team and if they brought a door-to-door, Country Girl would drop to third.
“Honestly, I was just watching the clock, hoping it would miss for second place,” he said. “Afraid someone might beat us to second place.”
It was only minutes before 3 p.m. when the tournament ended and his mate Lee Collins said he would go prospecting – putting bait on the side of the boat and reeling it in, hoping to attempt a doorstep. -sword with an easy snack.
“He did it about three or four times. The third or fourth time he did it, a sailboat came after him,” he said.
At 2:55 p.m. the sailboat was on Jeff Campbell’s line. There was no time to waste, no time to do anything but bring it back, register the hold and release it.
At 2:59 a.m., with a minute to spare, the sailboat was on deck, taped and released – a 100-point catch that edged Bill Collector for top spot in the leaderboard.
“Nothing like this has happened to me before,” Foreman said. “It was pretty wild.”
It wasn’t just Campbell’s last-minute heroics that marked the day. The Country Girl team entered the day far down in the standings. Foreman’s wife Meredith caught and released a sailfish and teammate Weyman Chapman released a blue marlin. This gave Country Girl 350 points, but the next two days they caught nothing.
Wayne Camden got the team back on a winning streak early on the final day, catching and releasing a blue marlin at 8:52 a.m. It was the first blue marlin he had ever landed and he later paid off with a traditional dive when the boat returned to the dock.
An hour and 15 minutes later, Meredith snagged a sailboat and Country Girl was in second place, just 50 points behind Bill Collector. Then nothing until the last five minutes of the tournament.
According to published reports, what might be the most notable ingredient in Country Girl’s victory is that Captain Foreman used his knowledge of local waters to put Country Girl where she needed to be. He didn’t use any of the many devices that can help a captain see underwater.
But Foreman, who started fishing the Outer Banks with his father and grandfather, got the boat where it needed to be. The boat itself is part of the family’s sport fishing heritage in local waters. Country Girl is a 57′ Buddy Cannady design built in 1990.
“Charles grew up in the industry,” Meredith Foreman said. “His grandfather built the boat. He built it for his father.
Country Girl’s winning score of 800 is a low score for a winning team. Tournament Director Heather Maxwell says the past few years haven’t seen many billfish and this year was no exception.
“It has been a bad year for fishing everywhere. It was a very slow year for us,” she said.
The Pirates Cove Bill Fishing Tournament concludes the Outer Banks Bill Fishing Tournament season for the year, although bill fishing traditionally remains strong in the Gulf Stream through September.
But for most of the 85 boats and their crew, the international waters of the Caribbean are their destination.
Over $1 million in prizes were awarded this year for the Pirates Cove Bill Fishing Tournament. Taking home $370,438 as top boat as well as cash prizes for top points on the final day, Country Girl was the big winner.
But as important as the prize money might be, there was also the knowledge that Captain Foreman, who grew up on the Outer Banks and went to school in Manteo – and married his high school sweetheart – won the tournament trophy against a national field of competitors.
“For him to be the hometown guy and win is really, really special,” Meredith said.