Captain Jason Daniels of Clayton and his two mates were only ones to fish Thursday
If Jason Daniels doesn’t win anything else at the Big Rock Blue Marlin, perhaps the captain of Paved For should at least win the quote of the year award at the 61st annual fishing tournament in Morehead City.
“I’ve never been so stoked about not doing nothing,” the Clayton man quipped.
Actually, Daniels and his two-man crew of Steve Wilson and Justin Sawyer on their 34-foot Regulator were the only ones that indeed did something Thursday.
They fished. Or at least tried to.
As far as the other 184 boats entered in this year’s six-day tournament? They all took one of two required lay days, leaving Paved For as the only boat to hit the water.
Daniels said he hadn’t planned to fish Thursday, recalling feeling wind blowing about 40 miles per hour early in the morning. But around 9 a.m., the time that lines are dropped into the water, he made the call to fish in hopes of at least nabbing a daily gamefish or daily sailfish prizes.
“We didn’t know we were the only ones until we were about 15 miles out,” Daniels said. “When we heard we were the only boat in the fleet, we changed our game and tried to go deeper to go after a big fish.”
Big Rock Media Director Bruce Paul can’t remember a time when only one boat fished.
“I know for a fact that a couple of times we’ve had three or four go out and turn around before the inlet,” he said. “This morning it was not very good, but later was a lot nicer today than we expected. We knew he was out there trying to win two dolphin to have his entry fee almost paid for.”
The Paved For was entered in the mandatory Level I category and optional Level IX Outboard division, meaning had he caught two dolphins, he would have won all but $500 of his entry fee. A billfish release would have put Paved For on the plus side.
Daniels’ entry fee was $3,500.
“I told the guys that I’d sure be glad to get a 10-pound dolphin,” Daniels said. “We caught 30 of them on Saturday, but it was just one of them days. All the fish moved north.”
Paved For did manage a hook-up about 10 minutes before lines were required to be pulled, but it was lost.
“I’m pretty sure it was a billfish, but I don’t know,” Daniels said.
But while the day ended without a catch, Paved For didn’t sail away empty handed. Big Rock officials called them over to the scales to honor their efforts and to present gifts.
The gifts included a cooler and gift cards to Amos Mosquito’s in Atlantic Beach.
“I love that place,” Daniels said. “If we aren’t catching something, we can at least eat something.”
And what does Daniels think of the cooler?
“We’d really prefer to have it full of fish than beer,” he said. “But if we don’t catch a fish, we will catch a buzz.”
Daniels was kidding. With a laugh, the 41-year-old asphalt paver said he always thinks positive while out on the boat. He also appreciates the love his crew received from the Big Rock community.
“They showed us great respect,” Daniels said. “I was blown away by it. It was very unexpected. I had never experienced anything like that before.”
A brand new boat
Daniels’ Big Rock adventures actually started June 6 when he decided to purchase the Regulator.
He already owned a 23-foot Carolina skiff, but was looking for an upgrade.
“My wife is really mad. I didn’t tell her I’d buy a half of a million dollar boat,” Daniels said. "I bought it on Thursday.”
Daniels said he and his wife have been together for 14 years and have been married for five.
Getting back in his wife’s good graces with prize money was perhaps a reason why Daniels was so gung-ho about fishing when nobody else did.
“I had already planned on buying the boat, but the Big Rock was a big incentive,” Daniels said.
But things didn’t go according to plan right away.
“We had some boats issues and we had to get the quirks out,” Daniels said. “Everything wasn’t finalized until Monday.”
Then Paved For fished Tuesday.
“We missed two really good ones,” Daniels said. “We had line problems. We laid Wednesday like everybody else. We probably should have fished Wednesday.”
Then came Thursday when it was Paved For and nothing else but the sky and water. It was the little boat that could when nobody else would.
“No, it was the little boat that could, but didn’t,” Daniels said. “No, it actually did very well. It’s an unbelievable piece of equipment. We were running 35 to 40 miles per hour. Everyone needs one like this.”
And this boat will be back in action Saturday for the final day of the $2,869,050 Big Rock.
“We are not done,” Daniels said. “We are going North where all the fish have gone.”
Chris Miller can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by calling 910-219-8472. Follow him on twitter @jdnsports. For digital subscription information, click here.