Browne Is Top Angler, ‘Lekker’ Top Boat at Dolphin Derby

Top Boat, Lekker, 2019 Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club’s Dolphin Derby. L to R: VIGFC President Kelvin Bailey Jr., Mario Austin, David Browne, Jeremy Austin, Justin Tyrell, and VIGFC board member Kevin Haddox. (Credit: Dean Barnes)

The catch of a 29.87-pound dolphin fish (mahi-mahi) earned St. Thomas’ David Browne the Top Angler prize at the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club’s (VIGFC) 23rd Annual Dolphin Derby, which was sponsored by Budget Car & Truck Rental and held May 19.

Fishing aboard the St. Thomas-based 33-foot Hydrasport Lekker, with Captain Justin Tyrell at the helm, Browne caught his winning fish south of St. John.

“All morning we saw birds and bait, so we knew [we] were in the right spot, but we didn’t get any bites,” said Browne. Then, around 12:30 p.m., our captain saw two birds circling overhead. We made our way over to them. All of a sudden, one of the lines went off. Jeremy (Austin) was first to the rod. The rest of us started to clear the other lines away so they wouldn’t get tangled, and while doing that, the port line went off. I was closest and grabbed it. That one ended up being the winning nearly 30-pounder.”

Browne’s first place fish was about 25-pounds shy of the 55-plus-pound criteria to win the tournament’s ultimate prize – $25,000 in cash.

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Prizes were awarded to anglers catching the five largest dolphins.

Mark Brady, on Family Ties, landed a 25.90-pound dolphin for the second largest, while David Keesacker, aboard the same vessel, reeled in the third largest at 22.93-pounds. In fourth place was Lekker’s Jeremy Austin’s 17.85-pound dolphin fish, with fellow angler, Mario Austin’s 14.44-pound catch rounding out fifth.

The Best Boat award went to Lekker, with the top collective catch weight of 74.72-pounds of dolphin fish.

Seven boats and 32 anglers competed in the Virgin Islands’ Game Fishing Club’s Dolphin Derby.

Several boats donated fish to the host Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club, where this was the featured entrée at the Awards Dinner held May 20.

The Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club appreciates the sponsorship of Budget Car and Truck Rental; Presidente, Bud Light and Bacardi Rum, distributed by the West Indies Company; and IGY’s American Yacht Harbor Marina.

Professionals from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources Fish & Wildlife Division conducted the official weigh-in.

The tournament’s beautiful wooden trophies were crafted by My Brother’s Workshop.

The Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club in a 501c3 non-profit organization. Proceeds from the Dolphin Derby benefit local charities.

For more information, call 775-9144 or email: [email protected]

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