St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The bite picked up and so did the excitement at the IGY American Yacht Harbor docks during the second day of fishing in the 51st July Open Billfish Tournament (JOBT). The eight boat fleet nearly doubled its catch rate from yesterday to five or eight total marlin releases in two days of fishing. The team aboard Indigo, a 61-foot Buddy Davis that is part of the local Ocean Surfari Charter fleet, maintained its lead by scoring blue and white marlin releases today.
“Angler Alan Patterson released the first fish of the day, a blue marlin, around 9:30 a.m.,” explains Indigo’s Capt. Kevin Haddox. “The fish first took a shot past the short rigger and we missed it. Then, it came charging back to the longer rigger and ate the bait. It was an amazing bite. And, a relatively easy fight. It went down, then up, and Alan released it in 15 to 20 minutes.”
Patterson also released a white marlin around 11 a.m.
“We were glad to catch the fish early to maintain our lead on time,” says Haddox. “So far, we’re doing what we set out to. That is, catching everything we see.”
Meanwhile, the team on Casca Dura, a Brazilian-based 80-foot Merritt, finished as the top boat for the day and second overall in tournament standings with the release of two blue marlin by angler Gabriel Abud.
“We saw four blue marlin today,” explains Capt. Bruno Larica. “We missed the first, then Gabriel caught the second, the third went swimming by but didn’t bite, and Gabriel released the fourth only five minutes before lines out. Both marlin were good size – 250 to 350 pounds, and quick releases – under 5 minutes.”
Abud is the only tournament angler so far to have released a pair of blues. Thus, he moves into the lead for Top Angler and the prestigious Capt. Johnny Harms ‘Give Him Line’ Trophy.
The team fishing aboard Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bill Ingram’s 61-foot Billy Holton, Reel Passion, didn’t release any marlin today. However, they are currently in third place because they were the first to release one blue marlin.
Mixed Bag II, a Luhrs 40 Open Express chartered by Capt. Robert Richards out of the Westin, St. John, earned a spot on the score board today when angler, Travis ‘Mac” McNeil, released a blue marlin around noon. The Mixed Bag II team boasts the youngest tournament angler, Richards’ 6-year-old son, Robbie.
“The marlin haven’t eaten his bait yet,” says Richards, about his son, “but tomorrow is another day.”
The hot ‘dock talk’ topic of the day was the relatively slow bite compared to the fishing over the July full moon in past years.
“Everything seems a little late this year,” says Indigo’s Haddox. “The seaweed just showed up and it normally appears in May and June, the weather starts getting rough in May and it’s just getting so now. So, I think, since the July moon is earlier in the month, that the bite is more like we’d see in the June moon.”
Traditionally, the full moons in July through October have produced some of the best blue marlin fishing in the world in terms of total numbers.
The fishing competition continues Friday with lines in the water at 8:30 a.m. and concludes with lines out at 4:30 p.m.
IGFA trained Observers, all members of the IGFTO (International Game Fish Tournament Observers), ride aboard each boat throughout the tournament to verify the releases.
The public is invited to greet the fleet as the boats come back to the dock around sunset. The number of flags flying on the outriggers indicates how many billfish the boat’s anglers caught and released for the day. The JOBT is an all-release tournament.
Proceeds from the JOBT benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Virgin Islands. The Boys & Girls Club of the Virgin Islands, a 501 C (3) organization, enables all young people, especially those most needy, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Donations are tax deductible.
For more information, visit: www.vigfc.com or call (340) 775-9144.