The catch of a 37.48-pound dolphin (mahi-mahi) earned St. Thomas angler Ryan Mertens Top Angler and a $1,000 cash prize at the Budget Rent A Car Dolphin Derby Fishing Tournament held April 11 and hosted by the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC).
Fishing aboard the 44' Custom Sportfisherman Bluefin II helmed by his father, Capt. Don Mertens, Ryan Mertens said, "We headed south and we were fishing about three hours when we saw a few frigate birds. That's when we got the big one."
The winning fish was just over 17 pounds shy of the over 55-pound criteria to win the tournament's ultimate prize, $25,000 in cash.
St. Thomas' Dr. Edward Saunders, fishing aboard Irving's Son, earned both the Second and Third Best Angler awards with catches of a 36.05-pound and 32.52-pound dolphin.
The Best Boat award for greatest number of dolphin caught by count came to a tie between St. Croix's C-Hunter and St. Thomas' Mixed Bag, both with six dolphin. However, C-Hunter, a 55-foot Hatteras owned and captained by Festus 'Fes' Pemberton, won the Best Boat title and pocketed the $1,000 cash prize based on total length of fish caught. C-Hunter's six dolphin collectively measured 243.50 inches while Mixed Bag's catch measured in at 241.73 inches.
The VIGFC's next event is the 47th Annual July Open Billfish Tournament, set for July 23, 24 and 25. For more information, visit www.vigfc.com.
Report and photos courtesy of Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club