Black Gold held their lead on the final day of fishing to win Top Boat in the 49th July Open Billfish Tournament (JOBT), hosted by the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC). Harry Sargeant, owner and angler aboard the 65ft American Custom Yacht, released two blue marlin on the final day to give Black Gold its winning total of five blue and one white marlin. Sargeant released four of the blue marlin to earn Top Angler and the prestigious ‘Give Him Line’ award, plus $10,000 cash and a beautiful hand-carved marlin head by wildlife artist David Wirth.
“We jumped one blue marlin off early,” Sargeant says as he recapped the last day. “Then I hooked another around 12:30pm off pitch bait. It was a good size; about 400lb, and about a 20 minute fight before releasing it. The last blue marlin came up around 2:30 on pitch bait. It was smaller, around 250 to 300lb, and the release came in about 25 minutes.”
In the wake of many of the tournament’s fleet seeing fish that didn’t seem to want to bite, the Black Gold team not only found them, but fed them successfully too.
“We really just concentrated on fishing,” says Sargeant, about the team’s secret to success. “We didn’t really worry about being first, last or in the middle.”
The Virgin Islands-based charter boat Mixed Bag II, went fishless for the final day; however, they retained Second Best Boat standing, with three blue marlin releases total, and pocketed a $5000 prize.
“We saw one fish in the morning and it didn’t eat,” explained Clay Gaffney, mate aboard the 40ft Luhrs Express. “That was it for the day.”
The same story held true aboard the 68ft Hatteras Gulf Rascal, they finished as Third Best Boat with two blue marlin releases for the tournament and won $2500.
Fifteen-year-old Tristan Lambert on the 80ft Merritt Reel Tight, was one of six anglers who did release a blue marlin on the last day of fishing. This, plus the blue Lambert released on the first day, gave him two to win the Top Junior Angler award.
A total of 21 blue and one white marlin were released by the ten-boat fleet in three days of fishing.
IGFA trained Observers, all members of the IGFTO (International Game Fish Tournament Observers), rode aboard each boat throughout the tournament to verify the releases.
Proceeds from the JOBT benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Virgin Islands.