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July Open Tournament Kicks Off Marlin Season

Summer marlin mania kicks into full swing with the July Open Tournament, the oldest sports fishing event in the Virgin Islands, boasting a 42-year tradition of fishing fun.

“Traditionally, this tournament was fished over the Fourth of July holiday. But, since the full moon is better for a blue marlin bite, we decided a few years ago to move the date to three days before the month’s full moon – July 15, 16 and 17,” said Harry Clinton, executive director of the hosting Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC).

Over 20 boats from the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and U.S. mainland are expected to compete. Revenge, which homeports out of Florida with Capt. Mike Lemon at the helm, will be back to defend its double win. Last year, the 58-foot Revenge won Best Boat with eight blue marlin releases, while angler Jon Jennings scored Best Angler and earned the prestigious Give’M Line Trophy by making all but one of these releases.

Of note, past winners of the Give’M Line Trophy read like a Who’s Who of blue marlin sport fishing, with angler Elliot Fishman’s winning 845-pound catch in 1968 setting 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 legendary angler Ralph Christiansen in 1973 and 1984.

“Local sports fishing boats, Abigail III and Marlin Prince already have charters for the tournament. We’ve heard a lot of interest from several other boats, so we’re expecting a good turnout this year,” Clinton says.

Anglers will set their sights on scoring the most release points for blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish. “This is an all-release tournament,” Clinton says. “No fish will be boated or brought to the dock for weigh-in.” Sports fishing crews will run a flag up their aft rigger at the end of the day to signal how many marlin they’ve released in that day.

Proceeds from the JOT benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Virgin Islands.

Tournament registration will take place beginning at 7 p.m. on July 14 at the VIGFC above the Frigate East restaurant in Red Hook, St. Thomas.

For more information, call: 340-775-9144.

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