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Sportfishing Club Has Alternatives to Celebrating Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament

Dr. Merlene Jones, principal of the Joseph Sibilly School, accepting the donation at Hull Bay, courtesy of the Northside Sportfishing Club. (Photo credit Catherine Bryan)

Giving back to the community rather than reeling in whopper kingfish is what members of the Northside Sportfishing Club, organizers of the Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament, did on July 31. The three-decade-long annual tournament, named in 2019 by National Geographic magazine as one of the world’s “9 Bastille Day bashes that celebrate French culture,” was canceled due to precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet, as was done during last year’s cancellation, club members felt it was important to continue the tournament’s long-standing tradition of giving back to the community by donating to a long-time beneficiary, Joseph Sibilly Elementary School; awarding a scholarship (this year to Ryan Querrard); and conducting a beach clean-up and beautification effort at Hull Bay. The club hopes to host the Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament in 2022.

2021 Scholarship Recipient, Ryan Querrard. courtesy of the Northside Sportfishing Club (Photo Credit Catherine Bryan)

“Special thanks to the Northside Sportfishing Club on behalf of the staff and students of the Joseph Sibilly School. The donation is greatly appreciated and will be used for both academic and beautification purposes,” said Dr. Merlene Jones, principal.

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“I would like to thank the Northside Sport Fishing Club for all they have done, not just for me, but for all the young people on the Northside in helping us to gain our education and advance our knowledge,” said Querrard.

Querrard is a sophomore studying computer science and cybersecurity at the University of the Virgin Islands.

Club members cleaned up trash along Hull Bay Beach and planted sea grape, almond and maho trees.

“The beach was in good shape today. We were pleased to see how large the sea grape trees had grown that we planted after the 2017 storms. Six more native trees and shrubs were planted today as a part of the beach clean-up held to mark the Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament that would have been held earlier this month. We hope to keep this longstanding community event alive,” said Catherine Bryan, one of the organizers.

Since its start in 1987 the club, via the Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament, has donated some $150,000 to community organizations and some $60,000 in college scholarships. The most recent tournament in 2019 attracted 168 anglers, including 30 junior anglers, aboard 55 boats. Also, in 2019, St. Thomas’ Matthew Bryan reeled in the largest kingfish, a 43.45-pounder aboard the 36-foot Feel Good I.

L to R: Shane Berry, Wesley Ledee and AJ LaPlace plant trees on Hull Bay Beach. Courtesy Northside Sportfishing Club. (Photo credit Catherine Bryan)

In addition to National Geographic, online travel advisor, Hotwire.com, named St. Thomas, particularly the Annual Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament, as one of the Top 10 destinations in the world to celebrate Bastille Day in 2012.

The Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament’s major sponsors are Coors Light and Captain Morgan, distributed by Bellows International; Offshore Marine, the YAMAHA distributor in the Virgin Islands; NEMWIL; Red Hook Agencies Inc.; TOPA Insurance Services Inc.; Budget Marine, the Caribbean’s Leading Chandlery; Caribbean Gifts & Things; Scoops & Brew Gelato and Coffee Bar; Frank’s Electric; Amalie Car Rental; and Hull Bay Hideaway.

For more information, call 998-0854. Or check out Facebook @ Northside Sportfishing Club.

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