Sunday was a good day for the anglers aboard Doña Lucy. They caught and released four blue marlin in the day’s fishing which, added to one caught earlier, gave Doña Lucy a total of five for the three-day 45th annual USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament, earning the top boat prize.
The San Juan, Puerto Rico-based team edged A1A, which also released five blue marlin total, but had to settle for second place based on time. Doña Lucy’s triumph was in a David versus Goliath-style, as the 41-foot Ronin sports fisher was half the size of other competitors in the tournament, according to the tournament’s news release.
“We had a team meeting last night and our captain, Juan Garcia, said he had a feeling it would be a good idea to fish the tournament’s last day up off Anegada,” said Doña Lucy angler Rafael Caicedo. “This is where we released our first fish on day one. We fished the North Drop yesterday, with all the rest of the boats, and didn’t catch a thing. The idea was, as the smallest boat in the tournament, we had to break away from the pack. Luckily, we did. We found a small patch of blue water without weed and trolled in that patch.”
The Doña Lucy team raised its first fish of the day late morning, but it wouldn’t bite. Then, barely a half hour later, anglers Bryan Ramos and Efrain Rodriguez hooked up a blue marlin double header and landed both. With barely time to set the baits back out, Rodriguez hooked, caught and released a blue marlin weighing an estimated 500 pounds.
“Two minutes later, Efrain hooked up the big girl. It was about a 650 to 700-pound blue marlin and took 2 hours and 15 minutes to fight and release. It was during that time that A1A almost caught up to us. However, we were the first to reach five when we released that big fish,” Caicedo said.
A1A, a 72-foot Jim Smith based out of Florida, finished in second place in the boat standings with five blue marlin releases. Angler/owner, Bill Waldorf, earned top angler, catching and releasing all five of the boat’s blues. Business Stinks, a 72-foot Merritt with Brazilian-based owner/angler Lucas Abud aboard, ended third with three blue marlin in the boat standings.
The 8-boat tournament fleet released a total of 22 blue marlin in the three days of fishing.
Boats competing in the ABMT were A1A, Angela, Business Stinks, Cheeseburger, Doña Lucy, Gulf Rascal, Reel Tight and Sodium.
The ABMT was run this year as a team tournament under IGFA rules only, without the call for competitors to adhere to additional special tournament rules such as the need for anglers to rotate rods hourly.
On land, the fifth annual MarlinFest concluded with a Shrimp Boil and Caribbean Show in the parking lot of the Red Hook Shopping Mall.
The ABMT and MarlinFest benefit the locally-registered not-for-profit Marine Vocational Program. The MVP’s goal is to serve as a vocational institution that provide U.S. Virgin Islands youth with a career path into the marine/hospitality/tourism industries. Current MVP programs include learn-to-swim, sailing, scuba diving and small boat handling and operation skills.