In early 1960 Captains Johnny Harms, Tommy Gifford and their anglers discovered the north drop and the fabulous Blue Marlin fishing there. The word spread around the world and the Virgin Islands became known as the Blue Marlin Capital. Year after year the area is still one of the most consistent producing fishery’s in the world.
When Johnny Harms started to build the Lagoon Marina, now American Yacht Harbor, the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club bought a parcel of land over looking the Marina.
The Club under the direction of founding members Howard Crouse, Hoppy Hampton, Frank Illich and Robert Schultz, along with other members, built a three story Building on the property. This building now houses the Club on the top floor, the Frigate Restaurant on the second floor and Marvin Berning Surveyors firm on the bottom floor. The late Lyman Spire, a holder of many records and avid light line angler, and his wife Nancy provided funds to complete the building and turn it into a prestige property that fishermen from around the world could visit each year.
As long time members of the VIGFC Dr. Spire and Nancy continued to participate in Club activities until his passing in late 1999.
The July Open Billfish Tournament this year is dedicated to the Spires. In 1995 under the direction of member Michael Bornn, a monument was built and painted by renown marine artist Carey Chen, honoring those Blue Marlin Captains that discovered the “North Drop”. This monument is located in front of the Club building in Red Hook.
1997 Winning Club
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Photo by Stewart Loveland