St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The docks are alive with the sights and sounds of pre-tournament excitement as the 40th Anniversary USVI Open Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT) or ‘Boy Scout Tournament’ so nicknamed for the event’s chief beneficiary, gets underway. The first day of fishing in this four-day tournament will kick-off Tuesday. Early risers are invited to come out for the Blessing of the Fleet, singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, and Flag Raising Ceremony by the Boy Scout Color Guard that starts at 6:15 a.m. at the Flag Pole at the IGY American Yacht Harbor Marina (AYH).
“We predict a good bite especially as we approach the full moon,” says tournament director, Jimmy Loveland, “and the weather forecast is looking good.”
The bite indeed has turned on with 8 boats fishing ahead of the tournament on Saturday August 25 hooking up 21 blue marlin and releasing 12 of them.
Twenty-seven boats are registered to compete up from 20 last year. The roll call registered to fish reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of sports fishing. There’s Best Boat defending champion, Revenge, with Sam and Jon Jennings of Juno Beach Florida, who released 11 blue marlin last year. Top Angler defending champion, Damon Chouest, who released 8 blue marlin in 2011 aboard the Monterey 58, Chach, out of Louisiana, is also back. Other boats signed-up to fish include Black Gold, Freedom, Gulf Rascal, Marlin Prince, Peje, Reel Tight, Rum Bum, Therapy and Uno Mas.
Anglers, captains and crews competing in this ‘Super Bowl of Sports Fishing’ will set their sights on catching and releasing the most blue marlin first. The angling action takes place Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday – three days before and a day after August’s second full moon.
The public can catch the spirit of the sport by walking the docks and watching the big rigs come in around 6:30 p.m. and counting the number of marlin release flags flying from the outriggers. Anglers in this conservation-oriented tournament have not killed a blue marlin since 1986. The more flags, the more marlin the boat released, and the winner is the one who releases the most blue marlin first. Commemorative tournament T-shirts, hats and more with original art designed by famous marine artist Guy Harvey will be on sale each night of the event.
On Tuesday, starting at 7:30 p.m., the public is invited to ‘Out Back Night’ under the tents at AYH with a feast of brisket, ribs, chicken and all the trimmings.
Thursday, starting at 7:00 p.m., enjoy Cheese Burgers in Paradise. The Boy Scouts invite visitors and locals alike to their cookout at Camp Wahoo, located under the AYH tents.
Tickets are available for both meals as a donation to the V.I. Council, Boy Scout of America.
The ABMT’s final fishing action takes place on Saturday. The Awards Ceremony takes place later in the evening along with the naming of the 2012 USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Top Angler, who pockets a $10,000 cash prize.
Also on Saturday will be the drawing the 40th Anniversary Fundraising Raffle to benefit the V.I. Council, Boy Scouts of America. The Grand prize is a full-day marlin fishing trip aboard the Marlin Prince ($2000 value). Other prizes include $500 cash, a 30-pound Leeward Rod and Shimano Reel, OtterBox Cell phone Cases, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses and dinners for two at many St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix restaurants. Tickets are $10 each. Buy a book of 10 tickets and get one free. Go to: www.abmt.vi/archivepages/2012tournamentraffle.htm to see the growing prize list and to purchase raffle tickets via PayPal. You do not need to be present to win.
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. It’s one of legs of the prestigious Bermuda Triangle Series and Spanish Main Series.
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