Hooters Girls deliver Winning Check to Black Gold who wins 49th July Open Billfish Tournament. Anglers and crew L to R: Harry Sargeant (Top Angler), Capt. Keith Brokenhagen, Matt Melchiorre, Mike McCarthy, Erik Glaff. Credit: © Scott Kerrigan/AquaPaparazzi.com

Black Gold Wins 49th July Open Billfish Tournament

Black Gold continued its lead on the third and final day of fishing to win Top Boat in the 49th July Open Billfish Tournament (JOBT), hosted by the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC). Harry Sargeant, owner and angler aboard the 65-foot American Custom Yacht, released two blue marlin today to give Black Gold its winning total of five blue and one white marlin. Sargeant released four of these blue marlin to earn Top Angler and the prestigious ‘Give Him Line’ award, plus $10,000 cash and a beautiful hand-carved marlin head by wildlife artist, David Wirth.

“We jumped one blue marlin off early,” Sargeant says as he recapped the final day of fishing. “Then I hooked another around 12:30 p.m. off pitch bait. It was good size; about 400 pounds, and about a 20 minute fight before releasing it. The last blue marlin came up around 2:30 p.m. on pitch bait. It was smaller, around 250 to 300 pounds, and the release came in about 25 minutes.”

In the wake of many of the tournament’s fleet seeing fish that didn’t seem to want to bite, the Black Gold team not only found them, but fed them successfully too.

“We really just concentrated on fishing,” says Sargeant, about the team’s secret to success. “We didn’t really worry about being first, last or in the middle.”

Virgin Islands-based charter boat, Mixed Bag II, went fishless for the final day, yet retained its Second Best Boat standing with three blue marlin releases total and pocketed $5000.

“We saw one fish in the morning and it didn’t eat,” explained Clay Gaffney, mate aboard the 40-foot Luhrs Express. “That was it for the day.”

The same story held true aboard the 68-foot Hatteras’ Gulf Rascal, which finished as Third Best Boat with two blue marlin releases for the tournament and won $2500.

“We just saw one today and we missed it,” says Capt. Billy Borer.

Fifteen-year-old Tristan Lambert on the 80-foot Merritt, Reel Tight, was one of six anglers who did release a blue marlin on this last day of fishing. This, plus the blue Lambert release on the first day, gave him two to win the Top Junior Angler award.

A total of 21 blue and one white marlin were released by the 10-boat fleet in three days of fishing.

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.

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, call 340-775-9144.

Over the next three months, sports fishermen can look forward to competing in the BVI Billfish Tournament, July 30 to August 1; the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin or ‘Boy Scout’ Tournament, August 28-September 1; and Club Nautico de San Juan International Billfish Tournament, September 23 to 30.

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