The catch of a 15.9-pound dolphin (mahi-mahi) earned St. Thomas angler Joseph Lee Top Angler and a $1,000 cash prize at the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club’s (VIGFC) Dolphin Derby Fishing Tournament sponsored by Budget Car & Truck Rental, and fished April 22.
Fishing aboard the 32’ Phoenix, Southern Belle, Lee caught his winning fish just after 8 a.m. while trolling the South Drop. “I knew it was a decent size fish,” said Lee. “We saw it jump a couple of times right behind the boat.”
This first place fish was a little over 39-pounds shy of the over 55-pound criteria to win the tournament’s ultimate prize – $25,000 in cash.
It was 12-year-old angler, Joshua Laplace, fishing aboard the 24’ Rampage, Anger Management, who reeled in the second largest dolphin, a 13.5-pounder, which earned him $500 in cash.
“I knew it was a big fish, actually the biggest fish anyone on our boat caught for the day, but it didn’t take me long to reel it in,” said Laplace.
This junior angler has fished since the age of 8 with his father Danny Laplace. The senior Laplace rounded out the top three angler awards by catching the third largest dolphin, a 12.1-pounder, for a $250 cash prize.
Cash prizes were awarded to anglers catching the 10 largest dolphin. Bob Petersen, on Fish Tales, caught the fourth largest dolphin, a 10.8-pounder, and sixth largest, a 10.6-pounder; Danny Laplace reeled in the fifth largest dolphin off Anger Management, a 10.7-pounder; Michael Weeks, on Southern Belle, caught the seventh largest, a 10.6-pounder; Joshua Laplace on Anger Management reeled in the eighth largest dolphin weighing 9.9-pounds, while Al Southworth on Islander caught the ninth biggest dolphin, at 9.6-pounds. There was a tie for tenth place between Islander’s Sam Druckman and Fish Tales’ Howard French, who both caught 9-pound dolphin. Yet Druckman’s fish measured longer at 80.4 centimeters compared to French’s fish at 78.5 centimeters.
The Best Boat award went to St. Thomas’ Bob Petersen’s 27’ Monza, Fish Tales, with 21 dolphin weighing collectively 120.3 pounds.
“We fished a weed line that ran for about 4 miles straight north of Christiansted,” said Fish Tales’ Petersen. “We worked that line from about 9 a.m. to around 1:30 p.m. That’s where we caught all of our fish.”
Fish Tales’ 15-year-old angler, Candace Petersen, won the Best Female award by reeling in 62.7-pounds of fish.
“It’s not the first time I’ve gone fishing, but it’s the first time I fished in this tournament,” said Petersen.
The fleet of 11 boats and 46 anglers collectively caught 317.2-pounds of dolphin. Some boats donated a fish to the host VIGFC, where this was the featured entrée at the Awards Dinner held April 23.
The VIGFC Dolphin Derby Fishing Tournament was also sponsored by Premier Wines and Spirits.
The VIGFC’s next event is the 49th Annual July Open Billfish Tournament, set for June 30 to July 2. For more information, visit www.vigfc.com