Officers of the Golden Hook Fishing Club want to reel in new members while promoting sport fishing in the Virgin Islands. The Club has a conservation oriented approach to sport fishing that they cast out to the community through events and competitive tournaments.
And, club president Dennis McCormick and Pat Barsotti, vice president, added with wide smiles, they also promote having fun for locals of all ages.
Barsotti said the children’s yearly Handline Fishing Tournament, held each summer, has been a big hit that draws as many as 200 children. The free event is held on the boardwalk at the harbor in Christiansted with the cooperation of the Christiansted National Park Service and the V.I. Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation.
“This is an awesome event and we get a lot of volunteers, which we really appreciate,” McCormick said.
He explained they teach the children to fish in the hopes that they will become interested in fishing and become reef responsible fishing enthusiasts. The club is trying to make a positive affect on the community, he said.
Golden Hook also hosts a handline workshop for local deaf children who attend a summer camp directed by Norma Oldfield.
“The payoff is seeing the look in the kids eyes who have never fished before,” Barsotti said. “Their eyes get so big, I love it.”
He also said they are teaching the children to be responsible stewards of the sea. The club recently started a Poor Boy Tournament that they feel is very affordable with a registration fee of $99 and a prize of as much as $2,500. And in November they host a Take a Vet Fishing competition in coordination with the American Legion.
McCormick said they have received a lot of positive feedback on the event where local veterans compete against each other.
“This is also a really positive thing that could eventually grow into a big tournament,” McCormick said.
The club promotes the sport of fishing through the yearly Golden Hook Series.
The first in the series this year is the 24th Golden Hook Challenge and 18th Dolphin Tournament, which will be held beginning April 1. Dolphin fish, which are called mahi-mahi, are fish with gills and are not to be confused with dolphins, which are mammals that breathe air with lungs.
The second in the series is the Guy and Gal Reel Challenge, scheduled for Oct. 14 and 15. And the last in the series will be the Wahoo Finale on Nov. 18. Winners in the fishing tournaments are awarded cash prizes and trophies.
Tournament entries are open to everyone and people don’t have to be boat owners to get involved. Barsotti said there is really great support from the community, which they really appreciate, with donations for all kinds of drawings, raffles and door prizes.
The non-profit club was incorporated in 1999. Barsotti said he joined the club because he was a commercial fisherman for 25 years and he wanted to make up for any damage that may have been done to the fisheries. Membership is open to people at least 18 years of age. A membership fee entitles members to discounts at local businesses and a club T-shirt.
McCormick and Barsotti said they generally have about 30 members, but they are always looking for new blood. And both said with more members the club can do more for the community.
More information about the club and tournaments is available by calling McCormick at 340-690-8252 or visit www.fishstx.com.
The mission of the club is to create an environment that brings together anglers, family, friends and the community in the spirit of sportsmanship and in the name of conservation and protection of natural resources.
The club members work closely with the V.I. Department of Tourism and coordinate with the U.S. Division of Fish and Wildlife Service of the Virgin Islands.