St. Thomas angler Adrianne Baird Butler thought she had forgotten how to reel in a fish during her two-year hiatus from sport fishing following the birth of her daughter. Instead, the problem was that she had hooked into a whopper wahoo. Baird Butler’s 76.3lb wahoo earned her not only the Largest Wahoo and Best Lady Angler awards, but more spectacularly the $3000 cash grand prize offered by the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club to any angler catching a wahoo over 75lb during its annual Wahoo Windup, fished in November.
“We had no idea of the size of the wahoo until we had it in the boat,” says Butler, who was fishing with husband Capt. Colin Butler, aboard the 39ft Sea-Vee, Silver Fox. “When we realized how big it was, we all started screaming.”
Butler becomes the third angler in Wahoo Windup history to have caught a wahoo over 75lb. 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 94.1lb 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,” says Richards, a fourth 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 182.59lb earned the team aboard Pescador the Top Boat prize. All fish were caught by angler John Deckoff, while aboard the 60ft Rybovitch.
“We didn’t see anything until about 10am.,” says 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 4pm 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, claimed this prize with a 21.93lb 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,” says Paul Meyer, who co-directed the tournament with Dr. Craig Friedenberg. www.vigfc.com