Gals Triumph in Reel Challenge of the Sexes

Guy/Gal Tournament Overall Winner Living the Dream (from left): David Johnson (owner/relief captain), Chelsy Harris (angler), Robyn Finch (angler), Nichole Johnson (owner/angler), Darby Schneider (angler), Sarah Ridgway (angler), AK Lovarco (mate), Austin Schneider (captain). Photo: Alda Anduze
Guy/Gal Reel Challenge Tournament Overall Winner Living the Dream (from left): David Johnson (owner/relief captain), Chelsy Harris (angler), Robyn Finch (angler), Nichole Johnson (owner/angler), Darby Schneider (angler), Sarah Ridgway (angler), AK Lovarco (mate), Austin Schneider (captain). Photo: Alda Anduze

The gals triumphed for the sixth time in the St. Croix Golden Hook Fishing Club’s 13th Annual Guy/Gal Tournament. Nicknamed the Reel Challenge of the sexes, the guys did catch their fair share of fish as well as help raise $5,000 for the island’s St. Mary’s School.

Seven boats fished the tournament held September 29th and 30th.

The gals fished first and collectively put a whopping 828.7lb of fish on the dock by day’s end. This total, says Trish Rhodes, a long-time lady angler who competed aboard the 52ft Hatteras, Producer, “was more than the whole Golden Hook Fishing Club caught last year! We have not had a really great showing of fish on the dock in years. I think this may be due to the cracking down of long liners south of us.”

The gal team aboard the 65ft Hatteras, Living the Dream, which included Nichole Johnson, Darby Kirby, Sarah Ridgway, Chelsy Harris, and Robin Finch caught eight fish for 207.6lb and won Best Gals Boat. David Johnson, who shared helm duties with Austin Schneider, says, “We started working Lang Bank to the east of St. Croix early. We targeted wahoo since all the mahi we saw and heard that were caught, were small. The girls caught four wahoo early and were neck-and-neck with the vessel, Andy, on hook-ups, so we knew the competition was stiff. We headed west after lunch and found a palm tree floater, but there were only small jacks, triple tail and mahi. Then we headed to Salt River to work the north shore, east, back towards town for the weigh-in. That’s when the girls caught four more wahoo.”

The next day, the guys team aboard the 26ft center console, La Mensajera, not only won Best Guys Boat with five fish for 155.8lb, but owner and angler Jose Sanchez Sr. set a new island record by catching a monster 61.2lb wahoo. Mate Edgar Bengoa tells, “The fishing rod screamed just after 10:00am and the fight was on. I told Jose to take the rod and he started working the fish. When we saw how big it was I started saying ‘that’s a winner!’  I gaffed the fish and it felt like I was pulling up a 100-pounder.”

Living The Dream proved the Overall Winner after the guys team of Jason Foust, Eric Schindler and Matt Ridgway along with mates/anglers Chad Sheraw and AK Lovarco caught five fish for 145.5 lb, to put the vessel’s two day gal-guy total at 13 fish for 353.1lb.

The secret to the vessel’s success were many, explains Johnson. “The Girls Team practiced a lot and did an amazing job, the captain had the boat in top shape and the mates made sure we had all the right gear. We also used the tuna door to pull the larger fish in so we did not have any missed gaff shots. Everyone was decked out in our new ‘Living the Dream Fishing Team’ shirts, so we looked as good as we fished.”

In other awards, Andy placed Second Best Gals Boat with eight fish or 199.5lb, and Two Fer Sure rounded out third on the Gals day with seven fish for179.2lb. Two Fer Sure anglers Denise Sedgwick and TJ Sedgwick caught the tournament’s second and third largest fish: 47.9lb and 38.6lb wahoo, respectively. Living the Dream sported the Second Best Guys Boat, while Leisure Lady finished third on the Guys day with five fish for 111.8lb.

For information about upcoming tournaments, visit

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.


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