The Guys broke the Gals’ winning streak to triumph in this year’s Golden Hook Fishing Club’s annual Guy/Gal ‘Reel’ Challenge held September 13 and 14, off the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix. And it was Mike Fennessy’s Sun Flower that bested the guys.
Sun Flower’s Weekend
“Lines went in at 6:30 a.m. and we headed for C-buoy about 18 miles north of St. Croix,” Fennessy says of the first day, or “Guys” day, of fishing. “We kept trolling and trolling. Nothing. We started getting a bit sleepy and inattentive. Then, it was just after 11 a.m. when I saw tuna birds 300 yards to the left. I ran right over the spot where they were and Paul Anderson hooked up a 47-pound bull dolphin. It put up a good fight. Then, we went back around and caught its mate.”
After this, Fennessy steered his boat over towards the Lange Bank. “We took a few passes on the east side of the bank and had a good hit by a 60-pound wahoo that got off. Minutes later Rolando Maissonet caught a 27-pound wahoo.”
This gave Fennessy’s Sunflower a total of 100.1 pounds for first place on the Guys day. Leisure Lady finished second with 83.4 pounds and Two Fer Sure third with 46.3 pounds.
The following day, the Gals day, Fennessy’s Sunflower had a surprise turn of events. Once again in the vicinity of C-buoy, angler Trish Rhodes hooked up, but it wasn’t a fish that was going to earn her team official points for this tournament.
“Trish released a blue marlin,” says Fennessy. “The marlin did count toward our point total in our annual billfish series, and it actually gave us the lead in that series by 50 points over Oh Suzanna.”
Later in the day, Sun Flower anglers, Peggy Noel and Joan Kupfer each reeled in a wahoo—together, the fish weighed 56.9 pounds.
Ironically, Stress Buster’s Gal anglers also reeled in two wahoo weighing an identical 56.9 pounds. The length of the fish gave Stress Buster the Best Boat prize for the Gals day over Sun Flower by only 24 millimeters, or less than an inch. Two Fer Sure took third prize with 46.3 pounds of fish caught by its Gal anglers.
A combined Guy/Gal two-day total of 157 pounds earned Sun Flower the Top Boat prize for the tournament.
In the end, the Guys reeled in 283.6 pounds of fish to the Gals 183.2 pounds to give the Guys this year’s win.
More Ladies Now Fishing
The Gals have triumphed five times in the nine-year history of the Golden Hook Fishing Club’s Guy/Gal Challenge to the Guys’ four times, so the ladies are still in the lead.
Nationally and internationally, more women are fishing. “As many women went fishing in 2006 as went running or jogging,” says Mary Jane Williamson, communications director for the American Sportsfishing Association.
Even so, fishing is still a male-dominated sport. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 75 percent of the 30 million anglers who fished in the U.S. in 2006 were men compared to 25 percent for women.
Men and women get a little more equal billing on the global scale. The International Game Fishing Association recognizes both women’s and men’s records.
Today, there are many famous lady anglers who come to the Caribbean each year to fish. These include Kerri Burrus, better known as the Billfish Girl; Tami Noel, whose husband Dave captains Double Trouble; and Jennifer Bacardi who angles with husband Luis aboard the Rum Bum. There are notable Caribbean billfisherwomen as well, such as St. Thomas’ Andrea Courteau, who won the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT) in 1992 and María Perez, who just earned Top Female Angler in the San Juan International Billfish Tournament.
Debbie Austin, a Florida-based lady angler who fished this year’s ABMT aboard Freebie, sums it up best. “Guys like having women on board because we listen. Guys don’t listen. Guys think they know it all and they’re set in their ways. When girls listen, it builds the guys up. And, it makes the guys look really good when we win a tournament.”
NOVEMBER VIRGIN ISLANDS FISHING TOURNAMENTS
Golden Hook Fishing Club, St. Croix
For information, www.fishstx.com
Toyota of St. Thomas Wahoo Wind-Up
Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club, St. Thomas
For information, www.vigfc.com