It was certainly fitting that a family group of experienced anglers won the family-friendly Capt. Lowell Wheatley Memorial Gamefish Tournament, held out of the Anegada Reef Hotel, on Anegada, BVI, November 8th-9th. Out of 10 vessels hailing from Virgin Gorda, Tortola and Jost Van Dyke, the USVIs of St. Thomas and St. Croix, and St. Maarten, carrying some 50 anglers ranging in age from seven to teens and adults, it was Capt. Jerome ‘Jerry’ Emanuel’s Bad Dog that reeled in the Best Boat prize. What’s more, it was Emanuel’s brother Chad that landed Best Male Angler and daughter Janesha who earned two prizes for Heaviest Mahi-Mahi and Best Junior Angler.
“I’ve fished all my life and this has taught me how to know where to go depending on the moon in order to make sure we have a good day of fishing,” says Capt. Emanuel. “I’ve been taking all my kids fishing with me from the time they were small. They are turning out to be good at fishing and, along with my brother, that’s what made our team great.”
In other awards, St. Thomas’ Capt. Adam Turbe on Ocean Jem won Second Best Boat overall, as well as having Joann Frett named Best Female angler for her catch. Saint Croix’s Living the Dream, with Capt. Austin Schneider at the helm, rounded out the Third Best Boat while angler Beth Basinski caught the Heaviest Kingfish. Roger Sinclair, aboard Rodfather, reeled in both the Heaviest Wahoo and Heaviest Tuna prizes. The Youngest Angler award went to Jaidon Dabreo on Princess 1.
A total of 77 of the four qualifying species of fish were caught: 42 wahoo, one tuna, one kingfish and 26 mahi-mahi.
Over $9000 in cash prizes, plus a number of luxury gifts, were awarded to the winners, thanks to the generosity of over 40 sponsors. In addition, the donation of fish from each boat made for a wonderful beachside barbeque before the awards ceremony.
“This tournament tends to captivate participants because of the atmosphere,” says organizer Harella Georges. “We provide a nice relaxed mood where everyone feels welcomed and accepted. Plus, we have a DJ every day for the weigh-in, at dinner and for the after party for those who want to go all night and still get up early to go fishing all day.”
The tournament is named in honor of Capt. Lowell Wheatley, a great fisherman and founder of the Anegada Reef Hotel, who passed away in 2002. Today, the hotel is run by Lowell’s son and daughter, Lawrence and Lorraine.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.