KEY WEST, Fla. — Mike Mahan and Rob Moore of Team Andros knew they were lucky to be fishing on Day Two of the Quiznos Madfin Shark Fishing Series. Only the misfortune of Team Lake & Bay's Bo Johnson and Bryan Holeman allowed them to make the cut after Day One.
"We were going home yesterday," Mahan said. "But because somebody else broke down, we lived for another day."
And they made the most of their second chance. After sitting in a tie for last place with 700 points Wednesday, and in an elimination position in a tiebreaker, Mahan and Moore came back with 2,600 points Thursday. It was the best total of the day. And it put them in third place after two days with 3,300 points.
Johnson and Holeman had 850 points Wednesday, but a motor breakdown caused them to be 30 minutes late, and the penalty points put them under 700.
"I feel bad for Lake & Bay," Moore said. "Those guys are great sportsmen. But that's tournament fishing. They know that. Their misfortune was our fortune, and we capitalized on it today."
Interestingly, the top two places are just like they've been the last two years of the Madfin Series. Spear One's Steve Rodger and Jake Perry, fishing in the Academy boat, are first with 4,700 points, and Key Limey's Tony Murphy and Carl Marsiello, fishing in the Lowe's boat, are second with 3,550.
The two-day totals of the final four qualifiers will be zeroed for Friday's championship competition. Key Limey has won the first two Madfin titles.
Rodger and Perry admitted they did a little sand-bagging Thursday, after scoring 3,000 points on Day One.
"It was another good day," Rodger said. "We caught a big hammerhead, over 10 feet, and we got a limit of sandbar sharks. Then we went and caught bait for tomorrow. We kind of took it easy."
That hammerhead earned them the 500 bonus points for big shark of the day and gave them 1,700 Thursday.
"I wasn't sure if we were going to sand-bag or not," Rodger said. "Then after (Perry) made me catch that hammerhead, it was time to sand-bag."
Key Limey's Murphy and Marsiello showed they are ready for another strong finish by totaling 2,350 points Thursday.
Also in the category of feeling like they got a second chance were Team Mercury's Rob Fordyce and Bill Brown, who caught and successfully released one blacktip shark, worth 300 points. It gave them a two-day total of 1,700, just 50 points better than Team Quiznos' Carter Andrews and Robert Trosset.
Fordyce captained a 65-mile boat ride back to the Oceanside Marina check-in point. It left them 14 minutes to spare until penalty points would have started being assessed.
"Rob's a guy that knows his stuff," Brown said. "I'm just proud to have fished with him. Both our cameraman and I were hanging on for dear life. I think we only said about three words the whole way back and they were, 'Keep going. Just keep going.'"
Fordyce hardly got to fish in last year's Madfin Series, when he was paired with his wife, Catherine. They suffered an outboard motor failure in the first 10 minutes of Day One. Fordyce thought his luck might have run out again this year.
"We had nothing but bad luck today," he said. "We lost a bunch of fish. We fished good. I don't feel like we made a bad move. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't change a thing."
And that was said before he knew he'd survived the Day Two cut.
Even though Team Andros had the day's high-point performance, they also had a big-one-that-got-away story. A big shark, either a lemon or a hammerhead, spooled 300 yards of 150-pound test line in about 30 seconds. Moore had the rod in his hands, and he said the fish never turned and never hesitated.
"We've been doing this for three years now," Moore said. "I've hooked lemons, bulls, blacktips and some things that I can't identify. Nothing pulled like this today.
"It never stopped. It just kept on going. Mike is asking me, 'Get the anchor? Get the anchor?' I'm like, 'Too late. It doesn't matter.'
"I've caught a lot of fish, but I've never been spooled like that."
Added Mahan, "That fish kicked it into high gear and was gone. I think he had a residence somewhere in north Florida, because he was heading there and nothing was stopping him."
Since Spear One fished only until noon, then caught fresh bait for Friday and had some time to look around at other places, it would seem like Rodger and Perry are positioned better to win the trophy than they have been the last two years. So have those experiences taught them anything?
"Absolutely nothing," Rodger said. "We're all zero tomorrow, and it's anybody's game."