Consistency paid off for Gray Ingram's Big OH, which won Best Boat in the 47th Annual July Open Billfish Tournament fished out of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands July 23 to 25. The team aboard the Ricky Scarborough 63 released a total of six blue marlin, more than any other in the 23-boat fleet.
"It was luck and skill," said Ingram, from Jupiter, Florida. "We fish as a team." Four of the six blue marlin were released off 30-pound test line.
"If you keep the drag light, you can back right down on them and release them quickly before they go deep," said Ingram, who is currently lead angler in the World Billfish Series' Pacific Division.
Luis Bacardi's Bertram 58, Rum Bum, finished Second Best Boat with five blue marlin releases made by Bacardi, who won the event's only angler prize, the Johnny Harms Give Him Line perpetual trophy. "It was great," said Bacardi. "This is where to fish for blue marlin."
Frank Rodriguez's Viking 65, Fa-La-Me, finished Third Best Boat and was one of five boats to release three blue marlin.
Carved wood marlin heads, handcrafted by marine wildlife artist David Wirth were awarded to the winning teams.
The 23-boat fleet released 42 blue marlin and 1 white marlin total over the three-day tournament. No fish were boated. IGFA trained Observers, all members of the IGFTO (International Game Fish Tournament Observers), rode aboard each boat throughout the tournament to verify the releases.
Proceeds from the JOBT benefit the Boys and Girls Club of the Virgin Islands. Last year, the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club donated $25,000 from the event to the organization. www.vigfc.com.
Event report and photo submitted by July Open Billfish Tournament