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Nice Day But Few Eaters

Viva La Vida hangs on to lead World Sailfish Championship

Lights Outs made up ground on Friday. (Courtesy World Sailfish Championship) Lights Outs made up ground on Friday. (Courtesy World Sailfish Championship)

By: Special to OutdoorChannel.com

KEY WEST, Fla. – Light, breezy weather and lack of a current led to reluctant fish and tighter standings during Day Two of the World Sailfish Championship, presented by Bass Pro Shops.

The fleet of 34 boats managed to release 27 sailfish Friday, bringing the tournament total to 73 as they head into the lay day on Saturday. Proving how tough the conditions were, only three fish were released between noon and 1 p.m.

Day One leader Viva La Vida pulled back into the dock stuck at its first day’s total of 9, which was still enough to hold a two-fish lead over Lights Out and a three-fish margin over The Edge, which led all boats with five releases on Friday.

Viva La Vida owner Dr. John Cole attributed the slow bite to poor sailfishing conditions (although they made for a beautiful day on a boat).

“There’s really not much wind and not much current. We saw one fish but he was not cooperative. He wasn’t an eater,” Cole said. “It’s just not the right conditions to bring the sailfish up. You pretty much have to park on top of them and hope you’re in the right place.”

Which, it turned out, Viva La Vida was.

“We knew we were in a good location. We could see Lights Out catching fish and we could see The Edge catching fish,” Cole said. “Some days you’re near and you don’t get a bite and the boat next to you catches fish. That’s sailfishing. You just never know who’s going to get to the bite. These guys are good.”

Lights Out reeled in three fish to secure second place, thanks in large part to a big move Capt. Chester Sims decided to make mid-morning.

“It was really slow. We started to the east and then went west, I guess around 11 a.m., to try and get to an area by ourselves,” Sims said. “We went to where we caught some fish earlier in the week during practice and it panned out for us. We pulled in there and, as soon as we got there, caught a few."

Lights Out scored releases at 11:36 a.m., 11:40 and 1:42 p.m. The Edge, meanwhile, proved to have the hot hand, spreading five releases throughout the day and building on its Day One total of one fish to stand in third heading into the final day.

“We just knew we had to stick with the game plan and grind it out when there were not a lot of fish in the ocean. We had five that came to us today and we got them all,” said Trey Brown, owner of The Edge.

That means, heading into Sunday’s final round, Cole and his Viva La Vida team will hold the top spot as they break out of Key West Harbor. But there will be eight teams within five fish.

“My thoughts are to go out there and hand it to them,” Cole said. “Go out there, catch the most fish and win the daily. Our optimal tournament is a slow tournament where you get two or three bites or there are tailers. If we can park on the fish, then we’ll have it. But there are some great boats out there.”

Included in the “great boat” group that Cole referred to is Lights Out, which finished second in the World Sailfish Championships in 2010 and 2011 and fifth in 2009.

“We’re ready to make that extra step,” Sims said. “I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to say the thought hasn’t crossed my mind, but we’re going to treat it like another day of fishing. Consistency is what this tournament is always about and we’ve been consistent the first couple days and not missed very many fish at all. If we keep calm and treat this like another day of fishing, I think we can pull it off.”

Current Overall Standings:

1st - Viva La Vida, Atlanta, Ga, 9 fish
2nd - Lights Out, Ocean Reef, Fla., 7 fish
3rd - The Edge, Dallas, Texas, 6 fish

Individual Day Two Scores:

1st - The Edge, Dallas, Texas $74,860, 3rd overall and 1st place in the charity division
2rd - Lights Outs, Ocean Reef, Fla. - $43,177.50
3rd - De-Bait-Able, Delray Beach, Fla. - 26,077.50
4th - Blue Time, Miami, Fla. - $5,415
5th - Freedom, Florence, Ala.

Fun Fish Division:

Fairway and Waves - 26.85 Kingfish, $8,312.50
Silent Hunter - 17.45 Cobia, $8,312.50
Blue Time - 21.1 Tuna, $8,312.50
Reely Tight - 4.96 lb dolphin, $8,312.50

Top Lady Angler
Lisa Leon, Miami, Fla.

For more information on the World Sailfish Championship, visit http://www.worldsailfish.com/. For daily updates during the tournament, including results, photos, videos and more, visit our blog at http://www.worldsailfish.com/blog.

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