July Open Final 
SEA DREAM Owner-Angler 
Juan Donastevez, Jr. Releases 4 Blue Marlin

St. Thomas, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – JULY 5, 1998 – Eighteen boats and 59 anglers from the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico battled overcast skies, choppy seas, and each other for Give’m Line Trophy honors and the Off-Shore Division title in the 35th annual July Open Tournament, hosted by the St. Thomas-based Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC), that concluded on Sunday.

A sizzling 18 hookup reports kept the tournament radio crackling Sunday as a total of ten boat captains reported the release of some 15 blues. Only one angler, Manuel Martinez on EDDA G, boated a blue marlin, which was later disqualified for weighing in at less than 400 lbs., the tournament’s minimum release weight.

 Sea Dream owner-angler, Juan Donastevez, Jr. of Puerto Rico, released a pair of blues today to take Top Angler, Best Visiting Angler, and Give’m Line Trophy honors with a tournament total of four blue marlin. The Give’m Line Trophy is awarded annually to the July Open Tournament angler who catches the largest blue marlin or tallies the most blue marlin releases.

Second place in the Off-Shore Division was awarded to owner-angler Adrian Stella, fishing aboard his Puerto Rico-based Magic Touch, who released two on Friday. Third place went to Sea Dream’s Angell Rivera with a total of two Sunday releases.

Captained by Ray Fernandez, Sea Dream captured the Best Visiting Boat, Best Crew, and Last Fish titles with a three-day, ten-marlin total that included catch contributions from all four registered anglers: Juan Donastevez, Jr.’s quartet, and a pair apiece by Angell Rivera, Umberto Martinez, and Jose Lanpreabe.

Usually contested among larger boats able to troll the waters off the British Virgin Island’s North Drop, Off-Shore Division anglers vie for the “Big Five” — blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, wahoo and tuna. Jose J. Ramon took Top Wahoo honors for his 28-pounder on day one aboard Sarita,   home-ported in Puerto Rico and captained by Juan A. Garcia. Owned by George Lawrence, the St. Thomas-based Lady Carol captured First Fish honors with a Friday morning blue marlin catch-and-release by angler Mike Frederick. Captained by Kelvin Bailey, Jr., St. Thomas-based charter boat Abigail III captured Best Local Boat and Best Female Anger, courtesy of Kathleen Alyward’s blue marlin release on Sunday. 

Sunday also saw the finale of the two-day competition among 18 anglers fishing on seven St. Thomas-based In-Shore Division boats competing for a new YAMAHA 40 HP engine grand prize sponsored by Offshore Marine Services, Inc., distributor for YAMAHA Outboard Motors. Winners in this division are recognized for catching the most weight of any species – except billfish,  sharks and barracuda under 30 inches.

In-Shore Division prize winners in the Total Weight category included Steve Magras, Best Angler (176 lbs.) on Fingertite; Eddie Bryan, Second Place (89.9 lbs.) on Rampage; and Adrian Barton, Third Place (80.2 lbs.) on Catch’n Keep.

Steve Magras’ St. Thomas-based Fingertite took Best Boat by Total Weight (234 lbs.) with help from Magras’ 17.1 lb. Largest Barracuda. With nine  species of fish to her credit, Lady Marie captured Boat Most Variety honors.

Largest Kingfish and Largest Fish awards went to Marielle Brandon (26 lbs.) on Grady White. Largest Wahoo (20.3 lbs.) went to Rampage’s Edddie Bryan.  Largest Tuna (5.3 lbs.) bragging rights went to Bruce White. In-Shore Division Best Captain honors went to Mark Quetel of Fingertite for Most Fish by Count (29).

The Virgin Islands’ longest-running sports fishing tournament was sponsored this year by Chivas Regal, with Miller Lite Beer and Cruzan Rum, distributed by Premier Wines & Spirits, Ltd. of St. Thomas. All tournament social events and weigh-ins were held dockside at Sapphire Beach Resort &  Marina.

Some 56 youngsters participated in the Vitel Cellular-sponsored On-Shore Division competition for junior anglers ages 15 and under, who enjoy a post-tournament cook-out and prize giving at Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina on Sunday. Winners in the single-day contest Total Weight Ages 11-15 category were: 1st Place Julius Aubain (27.098 lbs.), 2nd Place Danny Isaac (1.85 lbs.), 3rd Place Bryson Bryan (8.4 lbs.), and 4th Place Adam Turbe (8.04 lbs.). 

Total Weight Up to Age 10 category top anglers were: First Place, Darcy Loveland (26.36 lbs.), Second Place, Ryan Merten (7.309 lbs.), Third Place, Alexis Willis (3.05 lbs.) and Fourth Place, Joseph Harris (2.71 lbs.). Special award categories included: Most Fish Caught, Ryan Merten (54); Largest Fish, Julius Aubain (26.1 lbs.); Most Species, Adam Turbe; Smallest Fish, Tomas Montaivo; Ugliest Fish, Noah Matthrews; Funniest Fish, Clyde Tapp; Youngest Angler, Jahkeem Clark (1 Year, 10 Months); and Top Female Angler/Most Weight, Darcy Loveland

Unique among Caribbean tournaments in that it includes three divisions — Off-Shore, In-Shore and On-Shore – the VIGFC pioneered the conservation of local game fish resources by banning the use of double hooks in its Off-Shore Division. For its efforts in promoting tag-and-release conservation tactics, the club was recognized last March by The Billfish Foundation (TBF) as the winner of the TBF’s inaugural Club Conservation  Challenge, scoring highest with 207 tags among 16 clubs worldwide that  reported tagging a total of 367 billfish.