The northern Caribbean’s blue marlin season kicked-off April 26-27, when anglers aboard 11 boats competed in the 15th Annual Golden Hook Challenge, the host Golden Hook Fishing Club’s annual billfish tournament. Six blue marlin were released over the two-day event, two of those by Team Flower Power aboard the Hatteras 42, Sunflower, to win the tournament.
“Seas were calm the first day. But, it rained all day and we all got soaked when the wind whipped up,” says Mike Fennessy, captain aboard the Sunflower.
Sunflower anglers did catch five blackfin tuna, which furnished dinner rather than points, and had one marlin bite. However, Maragata, with Capt. Jeff Buckley at the helm, took the lead with a marlin release just after 9 a.m.
Come the next day, Fennessy drove the Sunflower out to T-buoy, seven miles north of Christiansted, St. Croix, where Maragata made their release the previous day.
“We were heading east towards the Lange Bank, about five miles north of Buck Island when our first marlin hit. It hit about three times before it finally took the lure,” Fennessy describes.
Sunflower angler, Jim Brailey, released the estimated 200 to 250 pound blue marlin after a 20-minute fight.
The second day surely saw more marlin action. Oh Suzanna, helmed by Capt. Mike Fuller, released a blue just before noon, with Two-FerSure, with Capt. Tom Sedgwick at the controls, releasing their first blue five minutes later.
The fight was now on for a second fish. Team Flower Power accomplished this feat just 14 minutes short of lines out. Angler Peggy Noel released the estimated 300 to 350 pound marlin after a half hour fight – something she could legally do as her fight was officially in progress when lines-out were called.
“I knew the marlin were out there,” Fennessy says. “The mahi had been running good all week and where there’s mahi, there’s marlin.”
Interestingly, though Sunflower as well as the rest of the fleet went as far as 20 to 30 miles off shore, all the marlin were caught about six miles offshore in the same latitude of seas.
In addition to winning $1500 for the tournament, the team also got a gold marlin pendant designed by and donated by Nelthropp and Low, and a Golden Hook bracelet for the mate from VIMI Bracelet Company. They will also have the boat name put on the perpetual trophy that is displayed in the Galleon Restaurant at Green Cay, St. Croix.
1. Sunflower, Capt. Mike Fennessy, 2 blue marlin releases
2. Maragata, Capt. Jeff Buckley, 1 blue marlin release
3. Oh Suzanna, Capt. Mike Fuller, 1 blue marlin release
4. Two-FerSure, Capt. Tom Sedgwick, 1 blue marlin release