Simpson and Bryan are no strangers to big cobia; their lines were in the water at 6:30, giving them plenty of time to catch the big one before the 6 p.m. weigh-in deadline. The action that morning was fast, but they had trouble closing the deal, at least until around 11.
"We had missed about five that morning before I finally had a solid hook-up, and when that cobia broke the surface, I knew he was big," Bryan said.
Immediately after first seeing the cobia, Bryan buoyed off the anchor to make fighting the big fish easier. Once the cobia was in the boat, Bryan and Simpson knew their chances for winning were pretty darn good.
"It was all I could do to fight off the urge to quit fishing and head to the weigh-in early," he said.
Staying out increases the chances of catching a bigger fish later, but it is nerve- wracking watching team after team try and knock you off the top spot after going in early. In the end, that fish was the only cobia they landed. It fish weighed in at 65.02 pounds, winning by slightly less than three pounds.
Bryan and Simpson were using 6/0 Penn reels loaded with 100-pound braided line, bottom rigs, 9/0 Mustad Big Game hooks, and live menhaden for bait.
The first-prize money was $1,225. Second place went to Mike and Ronnie Edmonds on Team Reel Fix for a 62.2-pound fish, and Tom and Taylor Thomas from Top Gun Charters finished third at 57.3 pounds.