April 28, 2003 – Hazy sun and a light chop on the seas set the scene for St. Croix angler Robin Parsley aboard the 60-foot Hatteras Rock N Robin to reel in the largest fish — a 36.9-pounder — to win the Offshore Marine Dolphin Derby on Sunday.
"Right under a frigate bird, we hooked up a dolphin double header, then got a third fish up on the teaser," boat captain Jason Pruns said, describing Parsley's catch. "After we pulled the two in, we pitch baited the third dolphin. After about a 10- to 15-minute fight, Robin reeled him in."
The bull dolphin proved to be the winning fish, but it didn't come near the 55-pound threshold for collecting a $25,000 cash prize offered by Offshore Marine by way of an insurance policy.
A total of 46 boats representing St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix and Tortola and 189 anglers competed in the annual one-day event hosted by the St. Thomas-based Virgin Islands Gamefishing Club in partnership with St. Croix's Golden Hook Fishing Club.
It was lines in at 6 a.m. and back to American Yacht Harbor on St. Thomas or the Christiansted Boardwalk on St. Croix by 3 p.m. for weigh-in conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Division of the Planning and Natural Resources Department.
Prize for the 10 largest dolphin were handed out Monday night, at the VIGFC headquarters in Red Hook on St. Thomas and at Sharky's in Schooner Bay on St. Croix. Top prizes were awarded to anglers catching the top ten largest dolphin by weight and the Best Boat by number of dolphin caught. All told, 58 anglers caught a total of 1,140 pounds of dolphin, with the average catch weighing 19.67 pounds.
Views as to whether the dolphin were running depended on whom you asked and where they fished. "They were running over here off St. Croix," Fred Lalik, Golden Hook Fishing Club tournament director, said. "Our boats had some fantastic fishing. There was lots of bait, birds and floaters."
Anglers off St. Thomas didn't see or catch all that many. "Running off the south side of St. John, we ran into a school. That's where we caught all six — and that was it," Don Mertens, captain aboard the Blue Fin II, said. One of the anglers aboard, Joe Mahoney, did reel in the second-largest dolphin, which weighed in at 35.8 pounds.
While the dolphin run wasn't hot off the northern Virgin Islands, multiple marlin bites added excitement to the day. "We caught three dolphin and also released two blue marlin and a white marlin," Kirby Hodge, fishing aboard Tortola's Black Dog, reported.
St. Thomas angler Dee Spear, aboard Endless Love II, said: "We released two blue marlin for the day and had another one in the spreaders when we decided to try and go after a dolphin instead. That's fantastic for this time of year. Hopefully that means a great marlin season this summer."
The sportfishing club's next tournament is the blue marlin-only US Airways June Moon, set for June 13-15. For more information, call 775-9144.
1. Robin Parsley, Rock N Robin, St. Croix – 36.9 pounds
2. Joe Mahoney, Blue Fin II, St. Thomas – 35.8 pounds
3. Doug Mackay, Leisure Lady, St. Croix – 32.7 pounds
4. Robert Mackay, Leisure Lady, St. Croix – 31 pounds
5. Dave Gruber, Catch 22, St. Croix – 28.5 pounds
6. Paul Stewart, Golden Eagle, St. Croix – 25.9 pounds
7. Henry Metz, Conquest, St. Thomas – 25.4 pounder
8. Fred Handelman, Rock N Robin, St. Croix – 24.7 pounds
9. Albert LaRose, Golden Eagle, St. Croix – 24.2 pounds
10. Grant Fleming, Double Header, St. Thomas – 23.9 pounds
Best Boat by count: Rock N Robin, 10 dolphin
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