KEY WEST, Fla. — Steve Rodger and Jake Perry could probably sleep in Thursday and still have enough points to make the two-day cut for the Friday finals of the Quiznos Madfin Shark Fishing Series.
With 3,000 points, Team Spear One, in the Academy boat, had more than double the points of its next closest competitor Wednesday, Rob Fordyce and Bill Brown of Team Mercury, which finished with 1,400.
By the rules, sleeping in isn't an option. And by their competitive nature, Rodger and Perry wouldn't consider it.
"Things change," said Rodger. "No one wants a surprise. If I'm not out there, I don't know what's going to happen.
"When the game is on the line, you don't want to be at the football stadium and go, 'Wow! We didn't know they recruited those three guys.'"
And according to Team Key Limey's Tony Murphy, all six teams left in the Madfin Series may find some "new recruits" Thursday. Murphy and his partner, Carl Masiello, in the Lowe's boat, are in third place, with 1,200 points.
"By all likelihood, Steve's through to the third day," said Murphy, who nipped Team Spear One on the third day each of the previous two years of Madfin competition. "But you can't take a day off.
"Plus, there was a big difference in the water clarity about 3 o'clock this afternoon. It was half (as bad) as it was this morning. It's going to be beautiful the next two days. There will be some numbers racked up."
Spear One racked up the points Wednesday by landing and successfully releasing four bull sharks and three black tips. Bull sharks are worth 200 points. Black tips score 150. The score for each fish is doubled for a successful hook removal. Spear One also earned another 500 points for landing the biggest shark of the day, a seven-foot bull.
"That was our game plan," said Perry, "to go after the high-point species."
Meanwhile, Team Key Limey held off disaster, hooking six nurse sharks, which are potentially minus 200 points each without a successful hook removal, which brings their total back to zero.
"We caught all lemon sharks," Murphy said. "We had a terrible time with nurse sharks. We had a potential minus 1,200 points at the boat. The last couple were combined about 450 pounds. It took a lot of patience, because a couple of mistakes and you're right back at 700 or 800 or whatever."
And 700 turned out to be the Day One cut.
Team Lake & Bay — Bo Johnson and Bryan "Bear" Holeman — scored 850 points, but due to engine trouble, were over 30 minutes late for the 5 p.m. check-in. The penalty points sent them to the bottom of the standings.
That allowed Carter Andrews and Robert Trosset (Team Quiznos) to take fourth place with 850. Mike Mahan and Robert Moore (Team Andros) and Steve Impallomeni and Rush Maltz (Team Under Armour) tied for the final two spots, with 700 points each.
"It's going to be a lot closer to get to through the last two days than it has been the last two years," Murphy said. "It's going to be tight to make the last day, to make the last cut."
The two teams with the lowest scores Thursday will be eliminated from the competition. Scores for the first two days accumulate, but on Friday the final four teams will start at zero to determine the champion.
Rodger, even with Team Spear One's 1,600-point lead over second place, wouldn't even consider not pouring it on again Thursday.
"You've got to be working it," Rodger said. "(The sharks) may have responded a lot better to the barracuda (bait) today than they did the mackerel. Yesterday they were eating the mackerel better.
"You've got to go to know."