St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Wave Paver jumped into the lead at the 52nd July Open Billfish Tournament (JOBT), hosted by the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC), with the release of four blue marlin in two days of competition. The Port Canaveral, Florida-based team aboard the 61’ Garlington released a trio of blues today, including the deft two-angler release of a double-header.
“We headed off Anegada today along with a couple of other tournament boats,” explains Jr. Davis, the Wave Paver’s owner/angler. “Our first bite came around 11 a.m. It was a big fish and I released it quickly. Less than an hour later, we raised a double-header. I grabbed one line and Jerry (Owens) grabbed the other. Both fish went in opposite directions. Jerry released his first. Mine took off and I had a lot of string in the water. Patience on my part and winding hard finally got the fish to the back of the boat were I released it. We saw one more blue later in the day but couldn’t get it to bite.
Davis’ release of two blue marlin today and one on the first day of fishing put him in the lead for Top Angler.
Hot on Wave Pavers heels is the team aboard Casca Dura, in second place, with a total of three blue marlin releases.
“Lucas (Abud) released our first blue marlin this this morning out on the North Drop,” says William Morrison, angler aboard the Brazilian-based 80’ Merritt. “Then, we headed up to Anegada where we teased up a double header. One fish took the bait and I was able to release it after over an over fight. It was big; over 500 pounds. Lucas released our third blue for the day later in the afternoon after about a 20 minute fight.”
Mistress’ anglers went fishless for the day. Yet, the two blues they released during the first day of competition kept the Florida- and California-based team aboard the 82’ Viking on the scoreboard and in third place in the boat standings.
Eighteen-year-old Tristan Lambert, from Hillsboro Inlet, Florida, was happy to release his first fish of the tournament today aboard his family’s 80-foot Merritt, Reel Tight.
“It was a nice-sized fish; around 350 pounds,” says Reel Tights’ Capt. Joe Figiel.
Local sports fishing charter boat, Mixed Bag, a Luhrs 40 Open Express helmed by Capt. Rob Richards, also caught a blue marlin today. The release was made by angler Brett Godfrey.
Tournament fishing resumes Thursday with lines in the water at 8:30 a.m. and out at 4 p.m. when the event concludes. An Awards Ceremony at the VIGFC clubhouse in Red Hook starts at 8 p.m. In addition to Top Boat, up for grabs is the prestigious ‘Give Him Line’ award for Top Angler. The names of past winners engraved on this perpetual trophy reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of blue marlin sport fishing. Angler Elliot Fishman’s winning 845-pound catch in 1968 set an all-tackle world record. Only two anglers have reeled in this honor two times – the late Howard Crouse in 1965 and 1988, and Puerto Rico’s late legendary angler Ralph Christiansen in 1973 and 1984.
This year’s JOBT honors Sue Boland and the many years of service and support she has provided to the VIGFC, the tournament and the tournament’s chief beneficiary, The Boys & Girls Club of the Virgin Islands.
Proceeds from the JOBT benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Virgin Islands. The Boys & Girls Club of the Virgin Islands, a 501 C (3) organization, enables all young people, especially those most needy, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Donations are tax deductible.