Sam Jennings, the Juno Beach, Florida-based angler who avidly angles with son, Jon, from his 58-foot Revenge can now boast another record that he’s achieved during his many years fishing in Virgin Islands waters. “Sam is only the third angler in the 43-year history of the July Open to win the prestigious Give ‘em Line trophy twice,” says tournament director, Harry Clinton.
The other two to have reeled in this honor were the late Howard Crouse in 1965 and 1988, and Puerto Rico’s legendary angler Ralph Christiansen in 1973 and 1984. Jennings first won this honor last year.
Revenge ’s skipper, Capt. Mike Lemon, wasn’t at all sure of this outcome as he headed into the Virgin Islands Gamefishing Club-hosted tournament, which was fished July 7 to 9.
“We thought it would be a tough bite due to the fact that we’d been out fishing the week before and hardly saw anything,” Lemon explains.
Revenge was one of 22 boats from the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and U.S. mainland that competed in the tournament.
“It was a long day,” Lemon says, of the event’s first day. “We never saw a fish until 10 minutes before lines out.”
Jennings hooked up the blue marlin and made the release, thus putting Revenge on the scoreboard. “We felt good about it, felt like we had a shot at winning as we were one of nine boats with one release apiece. But, the Blank Check was ahead of us with three releases,” Lemon says.
On the second day, “bang,” says Lemon, “lines went in and Jon released a marlin right off the bat. Then Sam released one mid-day and another one at the end of the day.”
These three releases, plus the one the day before, bumped Revenge to the top of the scoreboard.
“We had the lead going into the last day and therefore felt we needed to get one early. And, we did,” Lemon says. “We held on to that lead and won.”
However, Lemon adds, “The story might have been different if we fished an hour longer. HT Hook was our main competition that last day. They found a hot spot just off Anegada.”
Revenge took Top Boat honors as well. Florida’s Harry and Cynthia Shufflebarger’s 70-foot Tribute, HT Hook, earned second place boat, while Puerto Rico’s Ralph Christiansen’s 60-foot Rybovich, Pescador, took third.
The July Open Tournament benefits the Boys and Girls Club of the Virgin Islands.