St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. There was a five-way tie for top boat going into the fourth and final day of fishing in the 40th Anniversary USVI Open Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT), nicknamed the ‘Boy Scout Tournament’ for the event’s chief beneficiary. Yet only one, the team aboard Puerto Rico’s Carlos Garcia’s 47-foot Cabo, Peje, released one blue marlin for the day, their seventh of the tournament, to win.
“It was a long day,” recalls Garcia. “We didn’t hook that final fish up until close to noon. It ate the bait and jumped out of the water completely, a nice healthy fish of around 450 pounds that we released in about 40 minutes.”
The Peje team began the tournament in first place on the first day with the release of three blue marlin. Then fell to second behind the 58-foot Revenge on the second and third days while still releasing one and two fish, respectively, on each of these days.
“Dedication, more dedication, resources, good people and karma, that’s what led to our success,” says Garcia.
Juno Beach, Florida’s Sam Jenning’s Revenge finished second with six blue marlin, while Atlanta, Georgia’s Brooks Smith’s 68-foot Bayliss Uno Mass finished third by catching six blues right after the Revenge.
Meanwhile, it was Puerto Rico’s Jose Valdes, Jr, aboard the 57-foot Bertram, Lady Abi, that won Top Angler and $10,000 in cash with the release of five blue marlin.
“Consistency is what did it,” says Valdes. “I released one blue marlin the first day, three the second and one the third. That last one was big and the fight was about an hour and 25 minutes.”
In past years, Valdes has been part of the Lady Lou fishing team that won the ABMT four times.
Finally, the Best Junior Angler award went to 17-year-old Mason Domel, from Austin, Texas, fishing with his family aboard the Cabo 48, Deguello. Domel went from the agony of defeat when he lost a blue marlin after a four-hour-plus fight on the tournament’s first day, to the joy of victory when his total of two blue marlin releases earned him the spectacular and newly-created junior angler trophy sponsored by Jim Lambert, on the Reel Tight. It was a close race between Lambert’s 16-year-old son, Tristan, who released one blue marlin on the fourth day and Domel for the trophy.
“I was a little concerned this morning, but then I ended up releasing about a 300-pound blue marlin after a 20 minute fight in the early afternoon,” Domel describes. “It’s pretty exciting to win.”
A total of 89 blue marlin were released by the 26-boat fleet in four days of fishing.
Started by Chuck Senf back in 1972 – and nicknamed The Boy Scout Tournament since a portion of the proceeds have always benefited the VI Council of the Boy Scouts of America, one of Senf’s favorite charities – the ABMT has evolved into the competitive saltwater sports fishing events in the world.
The ABMT is fished under International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) rules, and is overseen by a professional Board of Captains and well-qualified observers.
The tournament benefits the V.I. Council, Boy Scouts of America.
For more information, call: 340-775-9500 or visit www.abmt.vi