Sea Dream Anglers Sparkle In July Open

Puerto Rico’s Angell Rivera 
Releases 3 of Sea Dream’s 7 Blue Marlin

St. Thomas, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – JULY 4, 1998 – Eighteen boats and 59 anglers from the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico gathered under cloudy skies for the second of three days of Off-Shore Division fishing in the 35th annual July Open Tournament hosted by the St. Thomas-based Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC).

Hailing from Puerto Rico, Juan Donastevez, Jr.’s Sea Dream remains the hottest boat in the Off-Shore Division with a two day catch total of seven blue marlin split among all four of its anglers. Angell Rivera added a double-header release to yesterday’s single to lead today’s pack, followed by last year’s Give’m Line Trophy winner Umberto Martinez, who jumped on the scoreboard today with a single. Sea Dream angler Jose Lanprede also scored his first blue marlin on Saturday. Owner/angler Donastevez, went fishless, but stays in the best angler running with his opening day pair of blues. Sea Dream is captained by Ray Fernandez.

Owned by George Lawrence, the St. Thomas-based Lady Carol joined the battle for top boat today with a cumulative blue marlin total of two. Angler Jim Keyes released his first fish today to challenge Mike Frederick’s single on Friday.

Puerto Rico’s Adrian Stella failed to score on Magic Touch, but stays in the top angler and top boat contests with his Friday double-header. Despite a fishless Fourth of July, other anglers who remain in contention with a single blue apiece, are Frank Pettisani on Exile (Puerto Rico), Cleofi Rubi on Great Mystery (Puerto Rico), and Milton “Sam” Jennings on Revenge (Florida).

Making their Fourth of July holiday debut on the scoreboard are:  Ralph Christiansen, Jr.’s boat Pescador, with Puerto Rican angler Guillermo   Zuloaga, Jr. releasing a single blue marlin;  the Venezuela-based vessel, Mother Mother, whose angler Rafael Vasquez released his first; and Puerto Rico’s Lady Lou, with Jose Valdes, Jr. releasing a single.

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. Two wahoo have been caught to date, including Friday singles by Puerto Rico’s Jaime Ramon on Sarita and Walter Fournier on Edda G.  Still scoreless, but gambling on a strong showing on the final day of fishing are Abigail III,  Freebooter, Freedom, Islamar, Lourdemar, Marlin Prince, and Prowler II.  

Saturday morning marked the start of the two-day competition among seven St. Thomas-based In-Shore Division boats — Rampage, Lady Marie, Catch’n  Keep, Grady White, Patty’s Permission, Fingertite, and Double Header – 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 specie – except billfish, sharks and barracuda under 30 inches. Prizes are awarded for Best Boat, Best Captain, Most Fish, Most Variety, Largest Fish, Largest Kingfish, Largest Barracuda, Largest Wahoo, Largest Tuna, Largest Dolphin, Youngest Angler, and more.

A free contest sponsored by Vitel Cellular, the On-Shore Division for junior anglers ages 15 and under, allows land-based fishing to begin anytime on Sunday, with participants weighing-in their catch between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM dockside at Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina, followed by a  cook-out and awards ceremony. More than 55 youngsters registered Saturday afternoon.

Dedicated to the late “Hoppy” Hampton, the Virgin Islands’ longest-running sports fishing tournament is 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 are being held dockside at Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina.

Fishing aboard Juan Donastevez, Jr.’s Sea Dream, Puerto Rico’s Umberto Martinez is defending the Give’m Line Trophy won with a 632 pound marlin in 1997. The Give’m Line Trophy — for the July Open Tournament angler who catches the largest blue marlin or tallies the most releases — was conceived by Dr. Lyman Spire, owner of Abigail III, as an annual tribute to Captain Johnny Harms, who is credited with pioneering sport fishing in the  Virgin Islands in 1963. Any registered angler who reels in a “Grander” (a 1,000-plus pound blue marlin) can win $20,000.

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.