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'MARLIN U' STUDENTS HONE FISHING SKILLS HERE

July 23, 2001 – Two local sportfishing charter boats have been playing host for a week to anglers from around the country who are participating in Marlin University, a travel and teaching excursion sponsored by Marlin Magazine.
"I'm having a wonderful time — learned more in six hours today that I have in 10 years of fishing, David Garton, a real estate broker from Vail, Colo., said. "They answered every question I had, and I've got five pages of notes."
Garton, who fished aboard Capt. Eddie Morrison's Marlin Prince, paraded down the dock walkway at American Yacht Harbor playfully wearing a crown of monofilament fishing line. "He hasn't quite got the wiring technique down yet," his companion, Marlin Prince mate Shawn Williams, kidded.
Garton and six other anglers, from such states as New Mexico, Illinois and Florida, are taking part in the July 19-24 event. The idea came from Debbie Snow, head of Marlin Magazine's travel department.
"The whole idea of Marlin University is to combine sport with travel in an opportunity that connects with our readers," magazine executive editor David Ritchie said. The magazine is one of 13 produced by World Publications in Winter Park, Fla. The others include Caribbean Travel & Life, Sport Fishing and Windsurfing. "Tuition" is $5,000 per angler, all-inclusive except for airfare.
The sun was barely up as the fishing students headed down to the docks each of the four fishing days of their week. They "started with some chair techniques in the morning," Ritchie said, then it was off to the fishing grounds. Along with Marlin Prince, Capt. Bill McCauley's Prowler and a Florida boat, Vintage, with Capt. Dave Noling at the helm, were used as classrooms at sea. On shore, the anglers have been taking in seminars at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort on wiring, rigging lures and bait-and-switch tactics.
This is the first year for the program. The first two teaching trips were in Costa Rica. "They were focused on sailfish, and we caught up to 40 a day," Ritchie said. "St. Thomas is renowned for a good blue marlin bite in the summer. So, here we're focusing on marlin and heavier tackle."
The final outing of this first four-trip series is an excursion to Venezuela in September. Ritchie said he hopes to bring the university back to St. Thomas again next year.

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