St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The fish weren’t biting, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying to catch them on the part of the eight teams competing in the 51st July Open Billfish Tournament (JOBT). By lines out at 5:30 p.m., three boats released one blue marlin apiece. This result was enough to put Indigo in the lead, followed by Reel Passion second and Wave Paver third.
“We hooked up about 11 a.m.,” explains Steve Shockley, the Fort Collins, Colorado-based manufacturing manager of Grander Custom Tackle who fished aboard Indigo, a 61-foot Buddy Davis that is part of the local Ocean Surfari Charter fleet. “We’re fishing with all of our own lures. I chose a large one with a purple shell and that’s what worked.”
Shockley’s first release of the day put him in the lead for Top Angler, and the prestigious Capt. Johnny Harms ‘Give Him Line’ Trophy.
Less than an hour later, Charlotte, North Carolina angler, Bill Ingram, fishing aboard his 61-foot Billy Holton, Reel Passion, released a blue marlin. “It was a nice size fish,” says mate, Ross Thames.
Finally, around 2 p.m., it was Jr. Davis, from Port Canaveral, Florida, who released a blue marlin from aboard his 61-foot Garlington, Wave Paver.
“We had one bite and caught it and we saw two more, but they didn’t bite,” says Davis, whose talented team won the 2013 USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament and the 2014 four-tournament Bahamas Billfish Championships.
The fishing competition continues Thursday with lines in the water at 8:30 a.m.
IGFA trained Observers, all members of the IGFTO (International Game Fish Tournament Observers), ride aboard each boat throughout the tournament to verify the releases.
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 JOBT is an all-release tournament.
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.