Five blue marlin releases earned Ft.
Pierce, Florida, angler Chester
Chambers the Top Angler prize at the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament,
held August 16 to 20 out of St. Thomas,
U.S. Virgin Islands.
Chambers fished aboard Vintage,
owner/captain Hans Kraaz’s 58 Bayliss, which won Best Boat with seven releases.
about his secret to success, Chambers shared a couple of points. “I did
better on the long riggers. We ran 4 teasers and 4 pitch baits,” he
explained. “But really what did it was the years
I spent bottom fishing for snapper. That’s what gives you the touch to
hook up Marlin. That and thirty years of fishing.”
Thirty-eight boats competed in the tournament and each day headed for
the North Drop to try their luck. On Day One, it was Jim Lambert’s
Reel Tight which topped the boat leader board with four releases. Three of these were made by
Lambert, who rocketed up to the top angler slot. In contrast, fishing aboard
Vintage was slow until around 3pm when
angler Chris Berkeley released a Marlin.
caught our first Marlin on an old blue and white islanders
with a ballyhoo behind it,” Berkeley
explained. “ Chester
added another fish late, so we were happy with the ending.”
Two, Reel Tight went fishless.
Blank Check anglers, John Ryan and Clark
Lea, Jr. released three blues between them. Combined with two fish the day
before, Blank Check moved into the Top Boat spot with five releases. Meanwhile,
Bill Gooch aboard Gandy Dancer, released
a Marlin to send his total to three. One more Marlin would have knocked Lambert
from his top angler lead, which he held through the second day on time.
Vintage’s Reed Macey
and Chambers each released another Marlin, landing Vintage in fourth place and Chambers as seventh place angler.
Vintage gained its good luck charm on
Day Three. That was when teenager, Angie Newton, an explorer scout, rode along
with the crew.
“Call it Chester’s
Day. He caught three fish and was about paralyzed because he’s very out
of shape. The cookies, candy, and chain smoking are taking their toll. But,
major credit is due. He moved into lead angler and so did we as a boat as a
result,” said Berkeley.
slowed up on the last day due to a rainy weather front.
“The weather system over Tortola was awful,”
Berkeley said. “We
were taking 20 knots, rain, lightening. Talk about stress. We never saw a
boat or angler was able to raise enough fish to beat Vintage or Chambers for the top place Boat and Angler prizes.
“We were all very excited to win,”
Best Boat went to Blank Check, with
Capt. Danny Hearns at the helm, while
Marlin Prince, a St. Thomas-based
charter fishing boat, ended third Best Boat, each with six Marlin releases.
Meanwhile, Davis Clapp, fishing aboard Marlin Prince, scored second place angler with four releases and
Lambert took third top angler with his three releases.
38 boats collectively released 107 Blue Marlin for a catch rate of 2.8 Blue
Marlin per boat for the tournament.
were boated, making the 18th year in which no Blue Marlin were killed in this conservation-minded tournament where
release points and time determine the winner.
tournament benefits the Virgin Islands Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Donations to the organization average over $80,000 annually.
Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament was also the finale of the second annual
Bermuda Triangle Series, a trio of events that included competition in the
Bahamas in June and Bermuda
in July. Davis Clapp’s Team Af-fin-ity, won Top Boat, while Greg Talbot’s
Team On Line and Luis Bacardi’s
Team Rum Bum, placed second and third,