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Laban Top Angler, Backlash Top Boat at Dolphin Derby

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St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The catch of a 30-pound dolphin fish (mahi-mahi) earned St. Thomas angler, Gilbert Laban, Top Angler and a $1,000 cash prize at the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club’s 20th Annual Dolphin Derby, sponsored by Budget Car & Truck Rental, and fished May 3rd.

Fishing aboard the 34’ Calypso, Emanuel, with charter Capt. Alvin Turbe at the helm, Laban caught his winning fish off the south coast of St. Thomas near the Lange Bank.

“We were in seaweed all day,” Laban tells. “There were a lot of small fish in the weeds, but we were looking for the big ones.”

The winning 30-pounder hit Laban’s line about 1 p.m.

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“We guessed it was in the high 20’s (pounds). It was great to hear it was 30-pounds at the weigh-in. We were definitely in the right place at the right time to catch it,” says Laban.

Laban’s first place fish was about 25-pounds shy of the over 55-pound criteria to win the tournament’s ultimate prize – $25,000 in cash. He also reeled in the 9th largest dolphin, a 19-pounder.

The second largest dolphin, also a 30-pounder, was caught by St. Thomas’ Jim Jamison, fishing aboard the 34’ Buddy Davis, Overkill, a boat in the Ocean Surfari charter fleet driven by Capt. Kevin Haddox. The tie in weight was broken by length with Jamison’s fish measuring 1.5 centimeters shorter than Laban’s.

“We released a white marlin about 15 minutes after lines in,” explains Jamison. “Right after that we hooked up a double header mahi (dolphin fish). We lost one and it was mine, a big bull, on the line. It shot straight up about 25 feet. I’ve never seen that before. It was a great feeling to get a 30-pounder in the fish box so early.”

Cash prizes were awarded to anglers catching the 10 largest dolphin.

The third, seventh and 10th largest dolphin, weighing 27-, 20- and 19-pounds, respectively, were caught by St. Thomas’ April Newland, fishing aboard Capt. Red Bailey’s Custom 44-footer, Abigail III. Charlie Male, aboard Overkill caught a 24-pound dolphin for fourth place; St. John’s John Deckhoff, fishing from No Limit reeled in the fifth largest, a 21-pounder; St. Croix’s Sylvester Browne, on Cool Runnings, caught a 21-pounder for sixth place; while fellow St. Croix angler, Kyle LaJoie, angling off Turn & Burn, caught the eighth largest at 19-pounds.

The Best Boat award went to Backlash, a 37-foot Calypso in the Ocean Sufari fleet, with the catch of 251-pounds of dolphin. Kayne Santor, Kyle Santor, John Hiebert and Tom Fields were the anglers aboard Backlash.

Nineteen 19 boats and 76 anglers collectively caught 64 dolphin weighing 1,095 pounds.

Several boats donated fish to the host Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club, where this was the featured entrée at the Awards Dinner held May 4.

The 20th Annual Dolphin Derby was dedicated to avid angler and club member, Dean Cole.

The Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club appreciates the sponsorship of Budget Car and Truck Rental.

The Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club’s next event is the Memorial Day Tournament, May 23 to 25, followed by the July Open Kid’s Tournament on July 26th, and the 52nd Annual July Open Billfish Tournament, set for July 28 to 30. For more information, call (340) 775-9144, Email: usvigfc@gmail.com or visit www.vigfc.com

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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