The right place at the right time proved lucky for St. Thomas angler Vince Bryan. When the official weigh-in was complete at the 24th Annual Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament, held July 15 at Hull Bay Hideaway and in honor and memory of Kimberley Brin, it was Bryan who reeled in the Largest Kingfish, a 34.43-pounder, aboard the Bayliner 24, Absolutely. Bryan was one of 228 anglers, including 41 junior anglers, on 60 boats who celebrated a successful tournament at the Coors Light, Snapple and Captain Morgan angler bars, provided compliments of Bellows International Ltd., who distributes these brands and who has sponsored this tournament for over two decades.
Bryan, who won the Largest Mackerel award in 2010, explains, “Our first plan was to head to Sail Rock. Then, there was so much wind, I told my dad we should head over to Cricket Cay and we did. It was 6 a.m., just getting light, when we put all four lines in the water and hooked up on three of them. The seas were so rough that the lines at first got tangled. We lost one kingfish, and then reeled in the smaller one until there was nothing left except my line. Every time I’d get the fish up to the back of the boat he would head straight back down. It finally took me three tries before I reeled him in. I knew right away that it was a prize fish, but not necessarily the Largest Kingfish.”
For catching the Largest Kingfish, Bryan pocketed $2000 in cash, sponsored by NEMWIL, managed in the USVI by Red Hook Agencies, Inc. and providing homeowners and business insurance in the USVI for over 20 years.
The Second Largest Kingfish prize also went to Dale Brin, aboard We Be Fishin, who caught a 23.91-pounder and won $1000 in cash sponsored by Yanmar, distributed by Offshore Marine, Coors Light, distributed by Bellows International Ltd., and Frank’s Electric.
Mark Quetel, fishing aboard Miss Andrea, reeled in a 21.41-pounder to win the Third Largest Kingfish cash prize of $850, sponsored by Offshore Marine, distributor of Yamaha, Yanmar and Caterpillar.
With 13 fish (37.90-pounds) caught total, Capt. Mark Steihler aboard Double Header won Best Boat and was awarded $1000 cash from Offshore Marine and Yanmar.
Meanwhile, the catch of 4 kingfish (21.11-pounds) earned Capt. Shawn Berry, aboard Kingingaling, the Best Captain award and $1000 cash from Offshore Marine and Yanmar.
Dale Brin’s catch of a total of 104.56-pounds of fish, aboard We Be Fishin, earned him Best Male Angler, and a $750 cash prize from Offshore Marine and Yanmar.
It was Stephanie King, aboard Red Bikini, who reeled in a total of 53.13-pounds of fish to pick up the Best Female Angler award and a $750 cash prize – $500 of this sponsored by Red Hook Agencies.
The Best Junior Male prize of $250 cash from Offshore Marine and Yanmar went to Nathan Gatcliffe, who caught 44.05-pounds of fish aboard, Double Header IV.
Chelsea Aubain won the Best Junior Female prize, $250 cash from Offshore Marine and Yanmar with the catch of 30.37-pounds of fish, aboard Lady Marie.
Although the tournament is focused around kingfish, other species earned anglers $375 cash each courtesy of TOPA Insurance Services, Inc. Christopher Bryan caught the Largest Jack, a 10.39-pounder, from aboard Feel Good. Mark Quetel reeled in the Largest Barracuda, a 20.71-pounder from aboard Miss Andrea. The Largest Bonito was caught aboard Livin Rich by Jasmine Bryan and it weighed 4.36-pounds. Finally, Mark Quetel reeled in the Largest Mackerel, a 6.53- -pounder, from aboard Miss Andrea.
Winners also received overnight stays at local hotels, dinners for two, and a variety of luxury gifts and excursions all generously donated by the Virgin Islands’ business community.
Judges Herman Richardson and Kevin LaPlace, Sr., officially weighed in the catches.
After weigh-in, the fun continued onshore at Hull Bay Hideaway. Cool Session Brass entertained throughout the afternoon. Later, crowds gathered inside Hull Bay Hideaway for the Awards Ceremony at 8 p.m., where the C4 band entertained.
All 41 registered junior anglers were eligible for a special “Catch In The Hat” award. In this award, sponsored by Red Hook Agencies, 8 names of registered junior anglers are randomly drawn from a hat and $50 cash is awarded with the 9th name selected receiving $100 cash.
Over $10,000 was awarded in cash and prizes this year.
Each year, the Northside Sportfishing Club makes donations to community organizations and individuals. This year’s beneficiaries were The Joseph Sibilly School, St. Thomas Rescue and Nana Baby Children’s Home. The Club also awarded $5000 in college scholarships to five recipients: Christina Bryan, Amanda Ledee, Britteny Petersen, Alexander Querrard and Gabrielle Querrard.
Catherine Bryan, Gene Brin, Jr., Danny and Jessica LaPlace, and Carlyn and Wesley Ledee organized this year’s tournament.
The Annual Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament is one of the most popular French Heritage Week activities, a week observed this year from July 8-July 14.