The marlin played hard to get at the 21st Golden Hook Challenge, hosted by St. Croix’s Golden Hook Fishing Club on March 1 to 2. In the end, it was two decades of experience fishing in this tournament (including three past wins), persistence and flat calm seas that led the team aboard the Topaz 29 TwoFerSure to live up to the vessel’s name and take home the two top prizes with only one marlin release.
Four boats – Leisure Lady, Living the Dream, Turn and Burn and TwoFerSure – took to the seas on the first day of fishing. A three to five foot swell kept the fleet somewhat close to shore. TwoFerSure, with owner/captain Tom Sedgwick at the helm, left their homeport of Frederiksted and steamed eight miles to a point off the northwest corner of the island where there is a usually productive sea mount.
“We didn’t see a single marlin,” explains TwoFerSure angler, Ed Beach, “but we did hear on the radio that there were some bites out to the east.”
True to report, the team aboard David Johnson’s Hatteras 65 Living the Dream raised four blues and hooked up two over the two days of fishing, but didn’t get a single clean release. Living the Dream was the boat to beat, having won this event last year.
Seas laid down overnight to a flat calm. This enabled TwoFerSure to troll east for four hours to Lange Bank, located some ten miles northeast of Buck Island. This is where Beach struck it rich.
“It was about 11:30am when a lone blue marlin came up on the right rigger,” Beach explains. “It spit the hook, and then circled back around a second time and I hooked him. It was a 22-minute fight. The blue marlin was small, about 125lb. We tagged and released it healthy and it swam away. The catch was a real team effort.”
Radio silence prevailed for the rest of the day. No wonder. No one else caught and released a marlin so it didn’t take long to calculate the prize winners. TwoFerSure received its Top Boat trophy and Beach his Top Angler trophy at a BBQ awards ceremony held at the Golden Hook Fishing Club’s new clubhouse at Green Cay Marina.
Normally, the seas off St. Croix in January, February and March can be quite productive for marlin fishing. In fact, the Club’s fleet caught some 21 blues, whites and sailfish during these months a few years ago.
Pat Barsotti, tournament organizer, says, “The fish didn’t seem hungry this year. That could be because our dates were in the dark of the moon. We scheduled it this way in order to accommodate another big event on the island, Taste of St. Croix.”
Taste of St. Croix is part of the annual week-long St. Croix Food & Wine Festival. Taste is hosted at the Divi Carina Bay Resort and showcases dishes from over 20 of the islands best restaurants and caterers.
Next year, Barsotti not only plans to move the tournament dates to the April full moon, he hopes to offer visiting anglers a long-weekend of fun.
“April’s full moon rides on the coat tails of the Taste of St. Croix,” Barsotti explains. “This offers an opportunity for anglers and their families to come over on Thursday, attend this spectacular culinary event, and then fish the tournament over the weekend.”
For more information, visit www.fishstx.com