First time entry into the Wahoo Madness tournament, held April 18th – 19th as part of the BVI’s Spanish Town Fisherman’s Jamboree, proved a charm for the anglers and crew aboard the 65ft Hatteras, Living the Dream. The St. Croix, USVI-based team, with several visitors from Atlanta aboard, won four awards including the Heaviest Overall Wahoo Catch at 134lb. What’s more, Living the Dream’s John Prather earned two awards: Top Angler and Heaviest Wahoo (42lb). The BVI’s 12-year-old Traeisha Emanuel merited another big award, Best Female Angler, by reeling in 75lb worth of wahoo, mahi and tuna.
Living the Dream’s owner/anger David Johnson tells how the fishing unfolded for his team. “We were excited to fish BVI waters after going up last November for a wahoo tourney in Anegada. The first day started off slow with a few barracuda and a small mahi that we released as we worked the South Drop and around to the east and north toward Anegada. At 1:15pm, we got up around the northeast corner of Anegada and got our first nice wahoo. It was a 41-pounder caught by angler Jay Anthony and was ultimately the second largest wahoo. Sara Lovarco caught a 22lb wahoo a half hour later. We lost a nice size wahoo and then finished the day with an 18lb mahi caught by Rich Stine. At the end of day one, we were the Jamboree leader with the largest wahoo and most wahoo by weight.”
Day two started off with a bang! Living the Dream’s Prather celebrated his 40th birthday by landing the winning 42-pounder at 7:30am.
“It was my first time in Virgin Gorda and my first time in a tournament, however, I’ve grown up fishing lakes, rivers, and at sea,” says Prather. “The wahoo took the lure strong, and I hooked him on the first of two hooks closest to the head of the lure, in the gills. It was very difficult to reel in due to where the fish was hooked. It felt like I was dragging a five gallon bucket of cement into the boat.”
Living the Dream finished up the day with Lovarco catching another small wahoo at 1:30pm and angler Beth Basinski reeling in a 21lb wahoo an hour later.
Meanwhile, Emanuel caught her award-winning 34lb of wahoo, 21lb of mahi-mahi and 20lb of tuna while fishing with her father Capt. Jerome ‘Jerry’ Emanuel aboard his boat, Bad Dog.
“I was so happy to get my fish and so excited to get the awards,” says Emanuel, a 6th grader at the Bregado Flax Educational Centre on Virgin Gorda. “I go out fishing with my father a lot. It’s fun!”
In other awards, St. Thomas’ Indigo earned Honorable Mention for an Overall Wahoo Catch of 76lb and the BVI’s Beluga scored the prize for heaviest catch other than wahoo with 58lb. Eleven-year-old Lakeisha Barry was named Youngest Angler with the catch of a 20lb wahoo.
The 11 boats and 66 anglers collectively caught 367lb of wahoo and 853lb of gamefish overall.
“The tournament has fostered great friendships,” says tournament coordinator Angella Flax. “Over the last 18 years the event has grown to attract boats and fishing enthusiasts from Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Barths, St. Martin, St. Thomas and now St. Croix and the U.S. mainland.”
First started by the Flax family in 1997, the aim of the Spanish Town Fisherman’s Jamboree remains to expose visitors and locals alike to the fantastic sports fishing in the BVI. The Jamboree benefits the Virgin Gorda Fishermen’s Cooperative Youth Summer Program, which targets youth from five to 16-years-old and teaches them about the sea-based environment through swimming and fishing lessons. Living the Dream’s Johnson donated the team’s US $5000 in winnings to the tournament’s summer camp beneficiary.