Well-wishers gathered along the docks at St. Thomas’ American Yacht Harbor marina as the 58-foot Revenge backed into its slip on September 9. Aboard, 81-year-old owner/angler Milton ‘Sam’ Jennings had just spent his day catching and releasing his 1000th blue marlin…and releasing an additional two later in the afternoon for good measure.
“We knew when we started the day that there was a real good chance of catching that 1000th fish, but we didn’t zone in on it to the exclusion of anything else,” says Revenge Capt. Mike Lemon.
That 1000th fish was what Lemon calls, “just an ordinary catch. It was small, about 150-pounder, Sam caught by pitch-baiting and released in about 15 minutes.”
Jennings, who hails from Juno Beach, Florida, started angling as a boy on his home state’s inland lakes and streams. He attended law school in Miami and traded over to salt water fishing, eventually buying his first sports fishing boat in 1978 and setting his sights on marlin. It wasn’t until 1993, after meeting Lemon during a charter aboard the late Win Rockefeller’s Alchemist, that Jennings signed Lemon aboard his new vessel – Revenge Yachts’ hull number one – and started keeping tally.
Lemon explains, “Sam and I sat down, looked at the calendar, and planned the fishing days. That’s when I realized I had an opportunity to catch more fish than I ever had before.”
The key to success, Lemon adds, “is pinpointing the best time to fish. Five days before the moon and three days after gets about 60 percent of the best fishing days. Of course weather will affect this too.”
Pushing the envelope, Revenge has found fishing good from as early as the April moon until as late as October – “effectively six to seven moons, or six or more months out of the year there can be some spectacular marlin fishing from St. Thomas,” Lemon says.
All of Jennings’ 1000 blue marlin catches were released and almost all were caught in Virgin Islands’ waters.
This number’s feat, says Lemon, “shows Sam’s true commitment, dedication and enthusiasm for the sport of fishing. He’s certainly endured his share of bad days as well as great ones. He understands how the fishing can change year to year, month to month, day to day, and he’s handled it well and excelled over the past 15 summers.”
Congratulations to Sam Jennings from all of us at All at Sea!