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Black Gold Second Day Lead at 49th July Open Billfish Tournament

Local St. John-based charter boat, Mixed Bag II, is in second place in the July Open Billfish Tournament after two days of fishing. L to R: Angler Sharp Kemp, Capt. Rob Richards, Robbie Richards, Clay Gaffney and angler James ‘Mac’ MacNeil. Credit: © Scott Kerrigan/AquaPaparazzi.com

The leaders kept leading on this second day of fishing at the 49th July Open Billfish Tournament (JOBT), hosted by the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC). Harry Sargeant’s 65-foot American Custom Yacht, Black Gold, held its lead by releasing one blue marlin and one white marlin for a total of three blue marlin and one white in two days of fishing. .

“Sarg (Sargeant) caught his blue marlin around 11 a.m. and it was easily a 300-pounder,” says fellow Black Gold angler, Mike McCarthy. “He caught it on a pitch bait and released it within 10 minutes. We raised another blue about an hour later, but it just wouldn’t tease up. Then around 3 p.m., I missed the pitch on the white marlin but caught it off the right rigger.”

“Tomorrow,” McCarthy adds, “We plan to go out to the same area, get the bites and make them count.”

Local St. John-based charter boat, Mixed Bag II, a 40-foot Luhrs Express, moved into the second top boat position with the release of two blue marlin for the day, making three total for the tournament. Angler Sharp Kemp caught the day’s first blue marlin around 8:45 a.m., while fellow angler James ‘Mac’ MacNeil released the second mid-afternoon.

“We are fishing the South Drop rather than the North Drop,” explained Mixed Bag II’s Capt. Rob Richards. “The moon is early this month and we fished seven days before the tournament on the North Drop and it was slow. It just made sense to try something different.”

Mixed Bag II’s Sharp Kemp leads as top angler. Kemp is one of three anglers who have released a total of two fish, but Kemp caught his two first.

Gulf Rascal angler Phillip Napier caught his second blue marlin of the tournament in the late afternoon to secure the 68-foot Hatteras’ third best boat position.

“We saw six blue marlin today, raised two and just caught the one,” tells Gulf Rascal’s Capt. Billy Borer.

The tournament’s 10 boat fleet released five blue marlin and one white today, for a two-day tournament total of 14 blue marlin and one white.

IGFA trained Observers, all members of the IGFTO (International Game Fish Tournament Observers), will ride aboard each boat throughout the tournament to verify the releases.

Fishing concludes tomorrow with lines in the water at 8:30 a.m. and out at 4 p.m. The public is invited to greet the fleet as the boats come back to the dock around sunset. The number of flags flying on the outriggers indicates how many billfish the boat’s anglers caught and released for the day. The Awards Dinner will take place at the VIGFC.

Meanwhile, nearly 200 junior anglers age 12 years and younger descended on the docks at the American Yacht Harbor today to fish the July Open Kid’s Tournament, hosted by the VIGFC with official weigh-in by staff from the Division of Fish & Wildlife.

“It was amazing,” says 9-year-old Andrew Kowalski, who was one of the participating junior anglers. “There were lots of kids, all fishing hard and trying their best.”

While Kowalski didn’t win a prize, he did have fun catching three puffer fish and one snapper.

Proceeds from the JOBT benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Virgin Islands. The Boys & Girls Club of the Virgin Islands, a 501 C (3) organization, enables all young people, especially those most needy, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Donations are tax deductible.

For more information, visit: www.vigfc.com or call 340-775-9144.

JULY OPEN KIDS TOURNAMENT – RESULTS

Most Fish

Age 6 and Under
Matthew Meyer, 6 years, 27 fish
Allura Allvalle, 5 years, 25 fish

Age 7 to 12
Adrianne Turbe, 8 years, 53 fish
Haley Olive, 7 years, 22 fish

Largest Fish

Age 6 and Under
Kaitland LaPlace, 2 years, 12.7 ounces
Bobby Peterson, 4 years, 12.0 ounces
Lucas Belaques, 4 years, 11.7 ounces
Olivia Smith, 5 years, 9.6 ounces

Age 7 to 12
Rohan Kapur, 8 years, 21.5 ounces
Travis Victor, 12 years, 14.2 ounces
Haley Olive, 7 years, 9.8 ounces
Danisha James, 12 years, 8.6 ounces

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