St. Thomas angler Adrianne Baird Butler thought she had forgotten how to reel in a fish during her two-year hiatus from sports fishing following the birth of her daughter. Instead, the problem was that she had hooked into a whopper wahoo. Baird Butler’s 76.3-pound wahoo earned her the Largest Wahoo and Best Lady Angler awards, and the $3,000 cash grand prize offered by the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC) to any angler catching a wahoo over 75-pounds during its annual Wahoo Windup, which was fished on Nov. 13.
“We had no idea of the size of the wahoo until we had it in the boat,” said Butler, who was fishing with husband Capt. Colin Butler aboard the 39-foot Sea-Vee Silver Fox. “When we realized how big it was, we all started screaming.”
Silver Fox’s Baird Butler becomes the third angler in Wahoo Windup history to have caught a wahoo over 75-pounds. In 2012, Clive Mahabir aboard St. John-based charter boat, Mixed Bag, with Capt. Rob Richards at the helm, caught a 91.3-pounder, while in 2003 Mike Kuszewski, fishing aboard Capt. Jim Estraca’s St. Thomas-based charter boat, Black Pearl, landed a 94.1-pound wahoo.
Meanwhile, nine-year-old Robbie Richards, angling off his father’s Mixed Bag II, caught the Second Largest Wahoo, a 68.78-pounder. The fish, nearly the size of the young angler, earned Richards the Best Junior Angler award.
“I picked up the rod when the fish bit, and it was so big I had to get into the chair to fight it,” said Richards, a 4th grade student at the Antilles School.
Rounding out the angler prizes, Michael Cutright caught the Third Largest Wahoo, a 40-12-pounder, aboard the Doubleheader I.
A whopping seven wahoo weighing in at a total of 182.59-pounds earned the team aboard Pescador the Top Boat prize. All fish were caught by angler John Deckoff while aboard the 60-foot Rybovitch.
“We didn’t see anything until about 10 a.m.,” said Pescador’s Capt. Jay Fowler, who added that the team enjoyed its success while high-speed trolling along the South Drop. “Then, we kept catching until we had to come back to the dock for the 4 p.m. weigh-in.”
New this year was an award for the angler who caught the largest tuna, mahi-mahi or kingfish. Brendon DeCloux, aboard the Doubleheader I, won this prize with a 21.93-pound kingfish.
The 16-boat tournament fleet with 72 anglers landed over 1,000 pounds of wahoo.
“The weather was beautiful, seas calm and the bite really turned on. We always say there’s a real possibility of winning the big cash prize for a 75-plus pounder and this year proved it. It was really a fantastic tournament and everyone had a lot of fun,” said Paul Meyer, who co-directed the tournament with Dr. Craig Friedenberg.
Cash and prizes were presented at an Awards Dinner at the VIGFC, in Red Hook, held Monday night. The dinner entrée was wahoo, donated by several of the participating tournament boats.
Personnel from the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources’ Fish & Wildlife Division conducted the official weigh-in.
VIGFC appreciates the contributions of Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of the Caribbean and IGY American Yacht Harbor for their support of the 2016 Wahoo Windup.
For more information, visit: www.vigfc.com or call 775-9144.