July 3, 2001 – Big fish, big money: Those were the lures for creating the June Moon tournament last year, and they worked again for the second annual competition, held last weekend and hosted by the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club.
A 107-inch blue marlin — two inches longer than the minimum required — caught by St. Thomas angler Stewart Loveland on the first day of fishing earned the $36,000 prize for the captain, crew and anglers aboard Salt Shaker, Capt. Eddie Wettengel's 48-foot Monterey.
Fishing with fellow anglers Michael and Brian Wettengel — Capt. Eddie's son and grandson, respectively –Loveland got his bite mid-morning Friday. "I snaked the rod and reeled it in," he said. Snaking the rod in this case means stealing it away. Normally, anglers switch off on rods by a set order of hourly rotations to assure everyone gets an equal chance. But this event is also known for its minimum of official rules, which adds to the excitement.
The Salt Shaker crew held a stick out to the big blue and determined it big enough for a prize. Loveland also hooked a bigger fish on Sunday, but lost it.
Although the eight boats in the tournament did see several blue marlin, underscoring that marlin season has definitely started, it was only Loveland's big blue that was prizeworthy in this event. The prize money was awarded out of the $5,000 boat entry fees after the fishing club took its 10 percent.
The tournament took its name from last year's premiere event, which was held at the time of the full moon. This year's June full moon, on the 5th, was too early to attract gamefishing boats coming down for marlin season from Florida; the July moon, also on the 5th, will occur during this year's July Open Offshore Tournament, a weekend event which has been fished on or around the Fourth of July since the mid-1960s.
The next Virgin Islands Gamefishing Club event is the July Open for youngsters, on the Fourth of July.
Then comes the July Open, Friday through Sunday. This will be the first time in the tournament's nearly four decades that an all-release format is used, meaning that all blue marlin that are caught will be released. To register or obtain more information, call 775-9144.


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