St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. There was proof positive on this third day of fishing in the 40th Anniversary USVI Open Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT) that there’s a whole new generation of skilled anglers ready to make as celebrated tournament history as the fishermen before them. Seventeen-year-old Mason Domel from Austin, Texas, fishing with his family aboard the Cabo 48, Deguello, was the first of three junior anglers to release a blue marlin in the tournament. Better yet, the fish was a near 600-pound whopper that had Domel in the fighting chair for 1 hour and 58 minutes.
“This was the first time I pitched my own bait,” Domel explains, about how he got the blue marlin to bite. The monster marlin peeled off about 300 to 350 yards with Domel reeling the fish back in to within 10-foot of the boat’s stern before it ran an equal amount of line back out again.
“I got discouraged half way through and then I just tried to reel in harder,” Domel explains. “I was so excited when I was able to release it and watch the blue marlin swim away.”
The joy of this victory certainly made up for the agony of defeat Domel suffered on the first day of fishing when he lost a blue marlin after a four-hour-plus fight.
“I got lots of experience with that first blue marlin and I was prepared for the long fight today,” he says.
Three anglers who fished the first ABMT back in 1972 aren’t in the lead, but they did enjoy their day fishing on the local charter boat, Marlin Prince, a 45-foot Viking.
“We were all here in 1972,” explains St. Thomas’ Stewart Loveland, who owns Neptune Fishing Supplies in American Yacht Harbor. “Tim (Choate) and I were mates back then and Ronnie (Hamlin) was captaining, although he didn’t fish the first tournament.”
On the scoreboard, five boats had released a total of six blue marlin after three days of fishing. Time, or in other words who caught their six first, determines position. The 58-foot Revenge, last year’s defending champion, held its lead, with the 47-foot Puerto Rico-based Peje in second and 68-foot Bayliss Uno Mass third.
The other two boats to release six blue marlin were Da-Bait and Lady Abi.
Jose Valdes, Jr., one of three anglers aboard the Puerto Rico-based 57-foot Bertram, Lady Abi, leads in angler standings with five blue marlin released.
“We released two blue marlin today and the second was my first fish of the tournament,” explains Guily Barlia, who was angling aboard Lady Abi with Jose Valdes, Jr. and Sr. “We all used to fish aboard the Lady Lou and won this tournament four times and came in second once.”
A total of 80 blue marlin have been released by the 26-boat fleet in three days of fishing.
The angling action continues and concludes on Saturday when the ABMT’s Awards Ceremony takes place in the evening along with the naming of the 2012 USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Top Angler, who pockets a $10,000 cash prize.
–– Source: Carol Bareuther, RD