In St. Thomas, the rain can’t stop the Carnival and neither did a bit of precipitation dampen the marlin bite on the first day of fishing at the USVI Open Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT) or ‘Boy Scout Tournament’ so nicknamed for the event’s chief beneficiary.
The team aboard Casca Dura, an 80-foot Brazilian-based Merritt, proved it's prowess by ending the day at the top of the leader board with four blue marlin releases.
Meanwhile, Wave Paver, a 61-foot Garlington out of Florida that customarily fishes in the Bahamas and is relatively new to Virgin Islands waters, finished the day in second also with four blue marlin releases – three of them released before Noon.
“We had just finished clearing weeds off the long ringer when there was the fish,” explains Jr. Davis, the Kissimmee, FL-based owner/angler of Wave Paver. “We released it with less than 30 minutes remaining in the tournament’s fishing day.”
Nemesis, a 70-foot Tribute with Capt. Robert 'Cujo' Brinkmeyer at the helm, kicked-off the action when angler, and In the Bite publisher, Dale Wills, released the first blue marlin of the tournament.
“We were fishing up at the ‘gun sight’ on the North Drop and released the fish at 8:44 a.m.,” says Wills.
About half the fleet fished the Drop while the others tried their luck in the waters off Anegada. One boat that traveled the extra distance to the easternmost British Virgin Island was local charter boat, Free Spool. The team aboard this 58-foot Buddy Davis was rewarded for their efforts with the release of three blue marlin.
"Off Anegada it can either be dead or on fire with the ability to release 4 to 5 fish in a day," explains Capt. Kevin Haddox, who helmed Free Spool to win the BVI Open held August 14 and 15 out of the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda. "We found a spot up there that's proven consistent for us. We had a good day."
The angling action continues Monday, Tuesday and concludes on Thursday.
The public can catch the spirit of the sport by walking the docks and watching the big rigs come in around6:30 p.m. and counting the number of marlin release flags flying from the outriggers. Anglers in this conservation-oriented tournament have not killed a blue marlin since 1986. The more flags, the more marlin the boat released, and the winner is the one who releases the most blue marlin first. Commemorative tournament T-shirts, hats and more with original art will be on sale each night.
On Tuesday, starting at 7:00 p.m., enjoy Cheese Burgers in Paradise. The Boy Scouts invite visitors and locals alike to their cookout at Camp Wahoo, located under the AYH tents. Tickets are available as a donation to the V.I. Council, Boy Scout of America.
The ABMT’s Awards Ceremony takes place Thursday along with the naming of the 2013 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 legs of the prestigious Bermuda Triangle Series and Spanish Main Series.
The ABMT is fished under International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) rules, and is overseen by a professional Board of Captains and well-qualified observers. The ABMT benefits the V.I. Council, Boy Scouts of America.
For more information and tournament results, visit www.abmt.vi or visit the event's Facebook page.