Sept. 5, 2001 – Catching a Grand Slam – the biggest dolphin, wahoo, yellowfin or blackfin tuna and kingfish – was the feat to beat in the Sept. 1 and 2 Inshore Four Tournament, hosted by the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club. When the sea spray settled, none of the eight boats participating in the event achieved this goal, but it was the captain and anglers aboard Miss Jennifer that swept all the other award categories.
"We didn't get out early. Lines were to be in by 6 a.m., but we were trailing behind and it was nearly 7 a.m. when we started out," said Mario Austin, captain and owner of Miss Jennifer, a speedy 27-foot Contender. Tardiness and rain didn't seem to dampen the boat's angler's catch for the day, despite drenching downpours
"It was on our way out north when we saw a leatherback turtle. That was key. That's how we got the mahi," Austin said. It was angler Matt Mahaffey who reeled in the 23.4-pound fish, which would later earn the largest dolphin prize.
About an hour after the mahi catch, still en route to the fishing grounds, Austin hooked a 24.8-pound kingfish that ultimately garnered him the largest kingfish award.
"The mid part of the day was real slow. We saw some yellowfin tuna, but we didn't get ours until the end of the day," Austin said. "We had been working an area for a while and we knew they were down deep. So, we ran our lines deeper." Minutes before it was time to quit fishing and sprint to shore for the 4 p.m. weigh-in at Offshore Marine Services in St. Thomas' Crown Bay, Bruce Ball got a bite. "We were really struggling to meet the time limit. We just kept yelling at him to fish fast," Austin said. Ball's 58.4-pound fish received the largest tuna prize.
The next day dawned bright and sunny. "We had our slam with three species, now we needed a wahoo to make a grand slam," Austin said. The anglers ran wahoo lures and ended up catching two more yellowfin tuna and a small mahi-mahi, but no wahoo. Back at the docks, Miss Jennifer angler's learned that wahoo were equally elusive for all the other tournament participants. Still, the weight of Miss Jennifer's mahi-mahi, kingfish and yellowfin tuna – 106.6-pounds – was enough to win them a first place slam. The catch earned a prize of cash plus a pair of U.S. Air tickets to anywhere in the continental United States, a total value $3,500
"I had never fished this tournament before, but we all just love fishing and go out just about every weekend," Austin said. David Buder was also fishing aboard Miss Jennifer, although he ended up fishless. Also getting slams were Lady Marie, with Capt. Larry Aubain, and Rampage, with Albert Sibilly at the helm. Rampage did land a grand slam last year to win the tournament.
Each participating boat donated a fish that was served for the event's awards dinner.
This annual Labor Day weekend event is part of the Game Fishing Club's fifth annual Small Boat Series. The Club's next event will be a wahoo tournament later in the fall. For more information, call: 340-775-9144.


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