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Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club’s Dolphin Derby

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The catch of a 30lb dolphin (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.

Fishing aboard the 34ft 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 1pm.

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“We guessed it was in the high 20s (pounds). It was great to hear it was 30lb 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 25lb shy of the over 55lb criteria to win the tournament’s ultimate prize – $25,000 in cash. He also reeled in the ninth largest dolphin, a 19-pounder.

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

“We released a white marlin about 15 minutes after lines in,” explains Jamison. “Right after that we hooked up a doubleheader mahi. We lost one and it was mine, a big bull, on the line. It shot straight up about 25ft. 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 ten largest dolphin. The third, seventh and tenth largest dolphin, weighing 27, 20 and 19lb respectively, were caught by St. Thomas’ April Newland, fishing aboard Capt. Red Bailey’s Custom 44-footer, Abigail III.

The Best Boat award went to Backlash, a 37ft Calypso in the Ocean Sufari fleet, with anglers Kayne Santor, Kyle Santor, John Hiebert and Tom Fields catching 251lb of dolphin.

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

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

The Dolphin Derby was dedicated to avid angler and club member Dean Cole.

For more information and a list of future tournaments, vist: 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.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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