AMBT Press Release
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands – The release of four blue marlin put Chach, a Louisiana-based Monterey 58, at the top of the leader board after the first day of fishing in the 39th annual USVI Open Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT).“Right off the bat there were lots of bites all around us,” says Damon Chouest, about the start of tournament fishing for the day.
Chouest caught Chach’s first blue marlin around 9:30 a.m., an estimated 350-pounder that came up on a pitch bait, jumped a couple of times and then was released after a 10-minute fight. Fellow angler, Dominick LaCombe released Chach’s second blue, a 450-pounder that came up off the long rigger and put up a 40-minute fight. Barely 20-minutes later, another blue came up on a “pitch” bait off the flat line and LaCombe released this smaller blue in a little over ten minutes. However, just before he did, the Reel Tight released its third blue marlin for the day and jumped into the lead. Then, shortly after 4 p.m., Chouest hooked a blue marlin off the left bridge teaser and regained Chach’s lead with the fourth fish of the day.
“We’re happy to be where we are and in the running,” says Chouest. “But, four days is a long tournament with the caliber of world-class fishermen that are here. The important thing for us now is to keep it coming, keep up the consistency. Staying in front is what’s important.”
The Reel Tight, a Florida-based 80-foot Merritt with the father-and-son angling team of Jim Lambert, Jr. and Tristan Lambert aboard, finished second top boat for the day with four blue marlin releases – the fourth caught shortly after Chach.
The Revenge, Florida-based Sam Jenning’s 58-foot Revenge, finished third for the day with three blue marlin releases.
Reel Tight’s Jim Lambert finished as Top Angler for the day by releasing three fish.
Meanwhile, South Carolina’s Smyth McKissick III, aboard the Spencer 60, Chasin, not only finished second in the angler standings with two releases, but he also earned first fish of the tournament honors.
“We hooked up right after we put the baits in the water,” says McKissick, who fished in Virgin Islands waters last summer as well. “The fish came up on the right long rigger, took a couple of jumps and the release came a little over 6 minutes later. We were all very excited.”
Chach’s Dominick LaCombe is third in the angler standings.
World-class anglers come from around the world to fish this ‘Super Bowl of Sports Fishing’. One angler that has been a consistent contestant – and winner – is Puerto Rico’s Humberto Donato. “In the early years, I brought my family over to fish. This year we came over to help the rookie,” says Donato, of fellow angler, Jose Cestero, owner of the 60-foot Hatteras, Mayte. “It was a great day. We saw three and caught one and it was my brother Charley that released it.”
A total of 32 blue marlin were released by the twenty boat fleet.
The angling action continues Thursday, Friday and Sunday – three days before and a day after the month’s full moon.
Viewers can get in on the fun from anywhere in the world by entering the boat pool on line for the chance to win prizes. Visit: www.abmt.vi/pages/boatpool.htm to learn more.
The public can catch the spirit of sport fishing by ‘doing the docks’ or watching the big rigs come in around 6:30 p.m. and counting the number of marlin release flags flying from the outriggers. The more flags, the more marlin the boat released. Blue signals the catch was a blue marlin, while white flags denote a white marlin. Commemorative tournament T-shirts will be on sale each night of the event and there will be a cash bar and other festivities on the docks.
On Friday, enjoy Cheese Burgers in Paradise. The Boy Scouts invite visitors and locals alike to their cookout at Camp Wahoo, located by the tournament tent at the American Yacht Harbor Marina. The Caribbean Night Show starts at 8 p.m.
The ABMT’s final fishing action on Sunday ends with the sport fishing fleet’s swift Jim Smith ‘Race from the Edge’ at 4:30 p.m. The best place to watch this often photo finish is from the spit of land past the pool at the Sapphire Beach Resort. The Awards Ceremony takes place later in the evening along with the naming of the 2011 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 tournament benefits the Virgin Islands Council of the Boy Scouts of America.