Zac Murck held onto his lead Monday in the 53rd July Open Billfish Tournament, doubling his number of catches and releases on a day when the fleet as a whole doubled its releases as well.
Murck, a 14-year-old angler from Florida fishing from the 58-foot Merritt, Never Say Never, kept both the boat and himself in the lead for Top Boat and Top Angler with a total of four blue marlin, two on Sunday’s opener and two Monday.
The tournament is sponsored by the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club.
It is the second year in a row Murck has fished V.I. waters. He was Top Junior Angler in the 2015 tournament.
“We saw two and caught two (blue marlin),” said Murck, recapping the day he spent out on the water with mother, Melissa, as fellow angler and Capt. Eddie Herbert at the helm. “The first was a rigger fish (fish caught off an outrigger). I had it up to the leader twice before releasing it. The second I caught off a pitch. It ate really well. I’m feeling pretty good about the day and the tournament so far.”
Jr Davis, owner/angler aboard the 61-foot Garlington, Wave Paver, based out of Port Canaveral, Florida, hooked up a blue marlin at the same time as John Deckoff, from St. John, USVI, who was fishing aboard his family’s 60-foot Rybovich, Pescador.
“Our fish was bigger, about 350-pounds, and that’s why I think it took us a little longer to release,” said Pescador’s Capt. Jay Fowler.
Time is everything in an all-release tournament, according to the VIGFC news release, which explained that it is the number of billfish released and who releases that number first that determines the winner.
Mixed Bag, a 45-foot Luhrs Express that Capt. Rob Richards charters out of the Westin, St. John, earned a spot on the scoreboard Monday with two marlin releases. The first was caught by angler Clay Gaffney and the second by junior angler, 9-year-old Robbie Richards, Jr, Capt. Richard’s son.
“The big deal for Robbie is that it was his first fish on a pitch bait. Releasing the fish using 30-pound test line is another big deal. Both of these for a kid his age are real accomplishments in the sports fishing world. We’re really proud of him,” Richards said.
Tournament fishing wraps up Tuesday, with lines in the water at 8:30 a.m. and out at 4 p.m., followed by an awards ceremony at the VIGFC clubhouse in Red Hook.
More information is available online at www.vigfc.com or by calling 340-775-9144.