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HomeNewsLocal newsGolden Hook Club Celebrates 30 Years Hosting Tournaments

Golden Hook Club Celebrates 30 Years Hosting Tournaments

Bob Mackay, surrounded by trophies, talks about the Golden Hook Fishing Club. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

This is the 30th anniversary of the Golden Hook Fishing Club and one founder, the winner of many tournaments, talked about the sport and the club. Just try to keep a fisherman from telling fish tales — most involve a record number or impressive size and end with laughter.

The Golden Hook club was incorporated in 1999 to encourage sports fishing in the Virgin Islands, to promote a series of tournaments and to encourage conservation and fun.

The founding members included Larry Angus, who was involved in sport fishing since the 1970s. He also ran fishing charters. He rounded up some local fishers, and they came up with the idea to start a fishing club.

“We got together and put in a little money,” Angus said.

Another founding member, Stu Lewis, was the force behind the first tournament for the Chamber of Commerce, and the club has been sponsoring three fishing tournaments a year, including one for children.

The founding members were: Angus, Lewis, Mike Fuller, Al Hayes, Fred Lalik, Bob Mackay, Doug Mackay, Dan McKenna, Dick Pelton, Ron Reid, Donn Schindler and Bill Schmidt.

Bob Mackay was born on St. Croix and grew up in Frederiksted. It was only natural that the little boy loved the sea and fishing.

In 1956, after his two brothers had been called up to fight in the Korean War, he went to an aunt’s house in Georgia to enlist.

“I volunteered for the Navy because I’m a water person,” Mackay said.

After serving four years, he came home and started a tree removal company while working at Volkswagen on St. Croix.

In 1968, Mackay’s father-in-law borrowed a number of chainsaws and returned them six months later. When he gave Mackay “a big fat check,” he said to his wife they needed to go into the rental business. That was the beginning of Reliable Rentals, a revered company that today rents tools and outdoor equipment as well as dishes and decorations for special events.

“The rest is history,” he said.

Somehow, fishing became an important pastime.

The best fishing is 17 miles north of St. Croix, Mackay proclaimed.

The Mackays raised two sons, both of whom loved fishing but also got seasick. Doug was first and then Richard “got the bug” after running the boat on a fishing trip that landed five marlins in one day. Richard said he learned to manage the boat by watching his father.  Doug made a career on the sea as a tugboat captain before he passed away last year.

“He (Doug) turned out to be a good fisherman, better than me,” he said, adding, “But, that is debatable.”

One of his most memorable fishing trips began when his boat and another boat came upon a school of dolphins. They both dropped lines. Then, a helicopter appeared and hovered over the boats. MacKay eventually turned on his radio to a warning:

“Pull up your lines and go south as fast as you can,” the voice on the radio ordered.

Mackay relayed the message to the other boat while exiting the area and took off as fast as he could — just before a U.S. Navy submarine surfaced right next to them. The other boat didn’t move as quickly, and the last thing Mackay’s team saw as they sped away was the other captain tugging frantically to make his boat start.

Another time, a woman chartered Mackay’s boat and she brought a bunch of bananas on board. One of the crew didn’t want the bananas on board because they are taboo for fishers. Mackay told his friend that she chartered the boat and could bring all the bananas she wanted. After they had caught a lot of wahoo, the woman said ironically, “We need more bananas.”

“Pinky” was the name of Mackay’s favorite lure. It is retired now. He said he caught 16 marlins using it, replacing pieces of the lure when necessary.

Another fish story was about the ongoing competition with a friend in the Golden Hook tournament.

“I would catch two and he would catch two and back and forth we went. We were even until the tournament was coming to an end and Mackay caught the last one.”

The Mackay team’s largest marlin was caught on the west side of the island. Mackay couldn’t remember its weight, but it was a tournament winner.

“I was backing down and he was going full tilt,” Mackay said about trying to land his marlin.

There’s nothing better than bill fishing, Mackay said — “especially ‘tail walking,’”

The trophy-winning marlin being landed during a Golden Hook Tournament. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

Mackay’s largest tuna was 125 pounds and took “about an hour” to land. It was a beautiful fish, with brilliant streaks of yellow, according to the captain.

He said he thinks his team still holds the record for the largest dolphin caught — around 80 pounds.

Mackay doesn’t know how many trophies he has won for “best boat” but at least 50 were counted at his home.

He is the proudest of a marlin painting by Cary Chin, a well-known painter and fisherman who created the Golden Hook Challenge logo.

At 86, Mackay only fishes occasionally. And still likes to drive the boat.

“I miss it,” Mackay said sadly.

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