The rich kept getting richer during the third day of fishing in the 39th Annual USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT) as it was the leader boats that kept adding to their wealth of blue marlin releases.
The 58-foot Revenge remains in the lead with nine blue marlin, having released two for the day. Revenge angler/owner, Sam Jennings, of Juno Beach, Florida, moved into the third angler slot by having released five of the boat’s blue marlin.
Chach, the Monterey 58 out of Louisiana that led on the first day, tied the Revenge with nine blue marlin releases. However, Chach is second in the boat standings having reached their total after the Revenge. All four of Chach’s fish today were released by angler Damon Chouest, bumping Chouest up into first place in the angler standings with Buddy Hardiman aboard the Triple Seven second best angler with five blue marlin releases.
“We had two in the spread this morning that didn’t eat,” said Chouest. “Then, we caught all four of our fish after 2 p.m. this afternoon. The last was a double header. Dominick (LaCombe) raised his off the left rigger but it spit the bait. Mine came up on the right rigger, and I had it up to within two foot of the leader when it sounded. That’s when we heard the Gulf Rascal had hooked up. At stake at that point if Gulf Rascal released their fish before us was our place in the dailies, the boat standings and in the angler standings – all three.”
Gulf Rascal, a 68-foot Hatteras owned by Pensacola, Florida-based angler Rod Windley, added four blue marlin to their releases for the day and finished third overall in the boat standings behind Chach. Two of the blue marlin releases were made by Phillip Napier and the other two by Doug Caddell.
“The three of us have been fishing together as a team for the last five years,” said Windley.
On a day where there were many pulled hooked throughout the fleet, Gulf Rascal made their mark by never missing a fish. “We caught everything we saw, and we caught them all on circle hooks and pitch baits,” said Windley.
One of several boats that experienced the disappointment of a pulled hook was St. John-based charter boat, Mixed Bag II, a 45-foot Luhrs Express. “We saw four, had two bites and caught none,” said Capt. Rob Richards. “We had one up to within 18 inches of a release when he turned his head and shook the hook.”
Richards has been chartered by the same four anglers for the past three years – Andy Graham, Jeff Junkin, and father and son, Jimmy and Trey Doyle – all from Alabama. The anglers came down with their wives for the week, but it wasn’t all land-lubbing for the wives. In fact, Trey’s wife, Heather, went out fishing a day prior to the tournament on a practice run and caught her first blue marlin.
A total of 88 blue marlin were released by the 20-boat fleet over two days of fishing.
Saturday is a layday where some teams will rest and the others will head out to fish for fun. When they return, the Ritz Carlton, St. Thomas, will host the tournament’s anglers at its 13th annual Full Moon Party on the beach. Fishing continues on Sunday.
Viewers can get in on the fun from anywhere in the world by entering the boat pool on line for the chance to win prizes. Visit: www.abmt.vi/pages/boatpool.htm
to learn more.
The public can catch the spirit of sport fishing by ‘doing the docks’ or watching the big rigs come in around 5:30 p.m. and counting the number of marlin release flags flying from the outriggers. The more flags, the more marlin the boat released. Commemorative tournament T-shirts will be on sale each night of the event, and there will be a cash bar and other festivities on the docks.
The ABMT’s Sunday fishing finale concludes with the Jim Smith ‘Race from the Edge’ at 4:30 p.m. The best place to watch this often photo finish boat race is from the spit of land past the pool at the Sapphire Beach Resort. The Awards Ceremony takes place later in the evening along with the naming of several prize winners including the 2011 USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Top Angler, who pockets a $10,000 cash prize.
The ABMT is fished under International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) rules, and is overseen by a professional Board of Captains and well-qualified observers.
The tournament benefits the Virgin Islands Council of the Boy Scouts of America.