Thinking ahead proved to be St. Croix captain and angler, Alberto Sanchez’s, secret to winning the 10 th annual Offshore Marine Dolphin Derby, held April 23, out of both St. Croix and St. Thomas.
“I started getting ready a week before the tournament,” says Sanchez, who confided that he’s fished Crucian waters since his boyhood and knows every corner of reef surrounding the island. “That meant getting bait. Dolphin love flying fish. So, we gathered as many as possible, about 4,000 of them and stored them away.”
The day of the tournament, Sanchez and fellow fishermen, sons Jose and Angel, and friend Edward Bengoa, launched Sanchez’s 26-foot boat, La Mensagera, from the south shore near HOVENSA. “Lines in was at 6 a.m. and we decided to start west after that. About five minutes to 7, I saw a frigate bird and went after it. We took a couple of spins around in the boat and on one of those spins hooked up two dolphin. As soon as we brought them in, the whole ocean turned yellow and blue around us. We had a really exciting fight over the next hour and a half and by 9 a.m. had 30 dolphin in the boat.”
Sanchez and his team then started looking for the ‘big one’. “We went east and came across two more school, but couldn’t get a bite. Then we saw a 55-gallon drum floating. We didn’t get that big one, but we did catch seven more dolphin off of that, and then headed in.”
At the weigh station, Sanchez and his La Mensagera team brought in 37 dolphin weighing a total of 837.3 pounds to win the Best Boat prize. St. John’sGone Ketchin placed second with 18 fish weighing 371.1 pounds, while St. Thomas’ Seabee ended third with 16 dolphin at 315.1 pounds.
St. Croix’s Stephen Clark, fishing aboard Mako, won the Largest Dolphin prize with a 42.2-pound catch.
A total of 120 anglers aboard 34 boats competed in this tournament and collectively caught 206 fish weighing 4592.9 pounds.
The next tournament hosted jointly by the Virgin Islands Gamefishing Club and Golden Hook Fishing Club, which will be the Memorial Weekend Tournament, will be May 27-29. For more information, call: 340-775-9144.