St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The 47th Annual July Open Billfish Tournament (JOBT) – the longest annually held angling contest in the Virgin Islands – will once again be hosted by the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC) and fished on July 23, 24 and 25.
"We encourage all anglers to register online (www.vigfc.com) as soon as possible," says tournament director, Jeffrey Kreiner. "This is a popular event and the full moon in late July produces a great blue marlin bite."
Last year, Rod Windley’s 55-foot Hatteras, Gulf Rascal, earned Top Boat and $10,000 with the release of five blue marlin. Rudy Polselli, Jr., aboard his 55-foot Viking, Rude Awakening, earned Top Angler and the prestigious Capt. Johnny Harms ‘Give Him Line’ Trophy with the release of five blue marlin.
Anglers will set their sights on catching and releasing the most blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish. "This is an all-release tournament," says Kreiner. "No fish will be boated or brought to the dock for weigh-in."
IGFA trained Observers, all members of the IGFTO (International Game Fish Tournament Observers), will ride aboard each boat throughout the tournament to verify the releases.
Final registration and the Kick Off Party will take place at the VIGFC Clubhouse, in Red Hook, on July 22, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. This will be the same venue for the sit-down Awards Banquet on July 25th.
Lines go in the water at 8:30 a.m. and out at 5 p.m., except on the final day of the three-day tournament when lines out will be at 4 p.m.
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. There will also be dock parties each night at the American Yacht Harbor marina.
Past winners of the prestigious Capt. Johnny Harms ‘Give Him Line’ Trophy read like a Who’s Who of blue marlin sport fishing. Angler Elliot Fishman’s winning 845-pound catch in 1968 set an all-tackle world record. Only two anglers have reeled in this honor two times – the late Howard Crouse in 1965 and 1988, and Puerto Rico’s late legendary angler Ralph Christiansen in 1973 and 1984.
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. Last year, through the generosity of anglers fishing in the 2009 JOBT, the VIGFC was able to donate $25,000 to the organization and enable the doors of the St. Thomas facility to stay open. Donations are tax deductible.
For more information and to register, visit: www.vigfc.com.