The strategy of fishing in the same spot all week proved lucky for Sandman, winner of the Top Boat title at the 38th Annual USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT), fished August 21 to 25. Sandman released nine blue marlin released over the four-day event.
Sandra MacMillan, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and owner of the Spencer 60 released five of the blue marlin to earn Top Angler.
Hot from a win at the 2010 Custom Shootout in the Bahamas in May, MacMillan says, “We came to the Virgin Islands for the blue marlin.”
“The day before the tournament,” MacMillan continues, “we went up off Anegada and saw six fish, so we decided to stay in that area.”
The next day, the first day of tournament fishing, didn’t prove as productive as Sandman went fishless. After that, it was two releases the second day, three on the third and four on the fourth as the magic powers of the full moon worked its fish-raising effect.
Yet, Sandman’s win wasn’t without some last day surprises and suspense.
“We broke off our starboard rigger, so there was a lot of excitement with that,” says MacMillan.
Not only was there the rigger drama aboard Sandman, but the crew also had its eye on Big OH, Gray Ingram’s Ricky Scarborough 63, which nearly matched Sandman release for release throughout the day, but just couldn’t release one more to win.
“I really liked the back and forth. It was pretty exciting,” says Ingram, from Jupiter, Florida, whose team has either won or placed no lower than second in a string of tournaments spanning from Costa Rica to the Dominican Republic and St. Thomas earlier this year.
Big OH finished as the second place boat with nine releases, while the Hatteras 68, Therapy, rounded out third with a total of eight blue marlin released.
In angler standings, after Sandman’s MacMillan in first place, Puerto Rico’s Carlos Garcia aboard his Cabo 47, Peje, was second with four marlin released and Hunter Brant angling on the Spencer 61, Ohana, finished third, also with four releases.
A total of 140 blue marlin have been released in four days of fishing by the forty-one boat fleet.
Done Deal won the famous Jim Smith ‘Race from the Edge’, where the fleet races in from the North Drop, and earned the prize of 500 gallons of fuel.
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. This year, Senf’s grandson, Blain Tomlinson, traveled from California to present his grandfather’s famous fishing jacket, a true piece of Virgin Islands fishing history, at the Awards Ceremony.
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 Virgin Islands Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
For more information and full results, visit www.abmt.vi