St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Marlin madness hits the U.S. Virgin Islands August 15 to 20 for the 44th USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT), 2nd Wet n’ Wild tournament and 4th MarlinFest. These simultaneous events draw the best sports fishermen in the world, plus hundreds of blue marlin fans, who are all ready for tight lines and fun times.
“The blue marlin fishing over the June and July full moons was wonderful, so we expect the August moon to be excellent too since this is the time of year we see big fish and lots of them,” says tournament director and MarlinFest founder, Jimmy Loveland.
Last year, the St. John, USVI-based team aboard the 60-foot Rybovich, Pescador, and led by Stephen Deckoff, Sr., released five blue marlin in the storm-shortened two-day tournament to earn Top Boat.
Tournament competition kick-offs on August 15 when registered anglers, captains and crews will set their sights on catching and releasing the most blue marlin. The public is invited to catch the spirit of the sport by walking the docks at IGY’s American Yacht Harbor (AYH) marina and watching the big rigs come in around 6:30 p.m. and counting the number of marlin release flags flying from the outriggers. Sports fishermen in this conservation-oriented tournament have not boated a blue marlin since 1985. The more flags, the more marlin the boat released under the practiced eye of the Observers. The winner is the one who releases the most blue marlin first.
The four-day ABMT continues on August 16 and 17 and concludes on August 19, following a lay-day on the full moon.
Meanwhile, the 2nd Wet N’ Wild’ two-day Center Console ‘All Billfish, Wahoo and Yellowfin Tuna’ tournament takes place August 17 and 18. This event is for those anglers who enjoy big game fishing on standup tackle aboard center console boats.
“We expect boats from St. Thomas as well as neighboring islands such as St. Croix, St. Martin and Puerto Rico to participate in the Wet N’ Wild this year,” says Loveland.
The ABMT and Wet N’ Wild’s final fishing action concludes on August 19. The Awards Ceremony for both takes place on the Marlin Deck at AYH. Prizes include prestigious trophies and name-brand tackle,
On Saturday August 20, MarlinFest moves into high-gear with a whole day of activities for the public. The Red Hook ‘Jump Up’, which takes place roadside in the AYH parking lot, starts with an Arts & Crafts and West Indian Food Fair from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Restaurants compete at the Chowder Challenge from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The evening caps off with a Caribbean-style ‘Jump Up’ show featuring costumed stilt-walking Mocko Jumbies and limbo dancers starting at 8:30 pm.
Started by Chuck Senf back in 1972, the ABMT has evolved into one of the most competitive saltwater sports fishing events in the world and is nicknamed the ‘Super Bowl of Sports Fishing’. The ABMT is fished under International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) rules with Observers aboard each boat, and is overseen by a professional ‘Board of Captains’ and well-qualified judges.
The ABMT, Wet N’ Wild’ and MarlinFest benefit the locally-registered not-for-profit Marine Vocational Program (MVP). The MVP’s goal is to serve as a
vocational institution that provide U.S. Virgin Islands youth with a career path into the marine/hospitality/tourism industries. Current MVP programs include learn-to-swim, sailing, scuba diving and small boat handling and operation skills.
For more information about the ABMT, Wet N’ Wild, MarlinFest and MVP, call: (340) 775-9500, Email: [email protected], and Visit www.abmt.vi Also, check out the ABMT on Facebook!