Some of the best anglers, captains and crews in the world are in St. Thomas this week to compete in the 37th annual USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT), nicknamed ‘the Boy Scout Tournament’ and known globally as the ‘Superbowl of Sportsfishing’.
"We have 35 boats this year, up from 29 last year, and the excitement has been building," says tournament director, Jimmy Loveland. "The fishing’s been beautiful the last few days, with a lot of big fish out there."
Last year, anglers aboard the 29 boats released 124 blue marlin over the four days of fishing.
This year, it was the kids who kicked off the angling action. Seventy-one 3- to 11-year-old boys and girls tried their luck along the docks of American Yacht Harbor at the Innovative Handline Tournament. Even those that got skunked received free pizza, drinks and T-shirts.
Winners in the 3- to 6-year old category were: Largest Fish – Matthew Kuszewski, Most Fish – Cody Bryan, Unique Fish – Marissa Ricks. In the 7- to 11-year-old age category, winners were: Largest Fish – Joseph Sibilly, Most Fish – Gavin Remeselnik, Unique Fish – Devonte James.
Nathan Clark, Virgin Islands’ Council of the Boy Scouts of America senior district executive, says, "Its great to get the kids out and expose them to the sport of fishing.
The big boys get their chance tomorrow. The fleet will head out and fishing will get started after right after the Blessing of the Fleet and the Boy Scout’s Color Guard’s Flag Raising Ceremony.
The angling action continues Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday – three days before and a day after the month’s full moon.
The public can catch the spirit of sport fishing by ‘doing the docks’ or watching the big rigs come in around 6:30 p.m. and counting the number of marlin release flags flying from the outriggers. The more flags, the more marlin the boat released. Blue signals the catch was a blue marlin, while white flags denote a white marlin.
On Wednesday, enjoy Cheese Burgers in Paradise. The Boy Scouts invites visitors and locals alike to their cookout at Camp Wahoo, located by the tournament tent at the American Yacht Harbor Marina. The Caribbean Night Show starts at 8:15 p.m.
The ABMT’s final fishing action on Friday ends with the sport fishing fleet’s swift Jim Smith ‘Race From The Edge’. The best place to watch this often photo finish is from the spit of land past the pool at the Sapphire Beach Resort. The Awards Ceremony takes place later in the evening along with the naming of the 2009 USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Top Angler, who pockets a $10,000 cash prize.
Started by Chuck Senf back in 1972 – and nicknamed The Boy Scout Tournament since a portion of the proceeds have always benefited the VI Council of the Boy Scouts of America, one of Senf’s favorite charities – the ABMT has evolved into the competitive saltwater sports fishing events in the world. It’s one of tournaments making up Bisbee’s World Billfish Series and is the last leg of the prestigious Bermuda Triangle Series and Spanish Main Series.
For more information, contact: Jimmy Loveland, tournament director at: Tel: 1-888-2-FISHVI (1-888-234-7484) or 340-775-9500; Fax: 340-779-8605; Email: [email protected];