April 22, 2002 – St. Thomas angler Lou Elias was tired. But his weariness as he sat in the cockpit of the Bare Down, a 25-foot Grady White Sailfish 25, with fellow anglers Larry Young, Laura Jamison, and captain Jim Jamison was mixed with that exhilarating feeling that comes from catching a whopper fish.
After Elias reeled in the big bull dolphin and Jim Jamison gaffed and boated it, the fish popped off the lid of the ice cooler and made a leap back to the sea. With Young driving, Elias jumped up to grab the rod and re-reeled the still-hooked fish back into the boat. "When we put it in the ice a second time, we all sat down on top of the cooler," Laura Jamison said.
The dolphin — the name refers to a type of fish called mahi-mahi on menus, not the marine mammal — weighed in at 54.2 pounds. It was the biggest catch of the day and just 0.8 pound short of winning Elias a brand-new Eduardo boat offered as top prize in the Offshore Marine Dolphin Derby.
A record 47 boats — 30 on St. Thomas-St. John and 17 on St. Croix — fished in the Sunday event hosted by the V.I. Gamefishing Club on St. Thomas and the Golden Hook Fishing Club on St. Croix. A total of 194 anglers participated — 119 on St. Thomas and 75 on St. Croix.
"The fish were really biting," tournament director Bob Rapuk said. "By 10 a.m., one boat on St. Croix had 14 fish and another on St. Thomas had 10."
It was lines in at 6 a.m., with boats due back at 3 p.m. at American Yacht Harbor on St. Thomas and the Boardwalk in Christiansted for the official weigh-in conducted by personnel from the Planning and Natural Resources Department's Fish and Wildlife Division.
Four anglers aboard Capt. Red Bailey's Abigail III, a St. Thomas-based charter fishing boat, were in the money with fish in the top 10. "We had a good day — caught 12 dolphin and a wahoo," Bailey said. "We were on the south side of the islands and found the fish by the birds."
St. Croix's Oh Susanna won the award for best boat by count with 14 dolphin. Abigail III took second place with 12.
A total of 97 dolphin, 54 on St. Thomas and 43 on St. Croix, were caught. Collectively, they weighed 1,235.8 pounds. "Everyone had a lot of fun, and it really adds to the excitement to be fishing in tandem with anglers and boats on St. Croix," Rapuk said.
Ten boats on each island brought fish in to be weighed. Some anglers who didn't catch any dolphin were happy nonetheless. St. Croix's Trish Rhodes hooked her first blue marlin aboard Rock N' Robin, and St. Thomas's Dee Spear released a white marlin. "I guess I'm practicing for the next tournament," Spear said.
The next Gamefishing Club event is the Anegada Memorial Day Tournament. For more information, call 775-9144.
Angler results for largest single dolphin
(Angler name, boat name, island, weight of fish)
1. Lou Elias, Bare Down, St. Thomas, 54.2 lbs.
2. Marshal Bell, Abigail III, St. Thomas, 43.2 lbs.3. Kerri Hanley, Rock N' Robin, St. Croix, 37.6 lbs.
4. Marc Kelleher, Abigail III, St. Thomas, 35.4 lbs.
5. Jim Jamison, Bare Down, St. Thomas, 34.9 lbs.
6. Elmo Lanclos, Abigail III, St. Thomas, 34.8 lbs. (121 cm. length)
7. Harry Gauriloff, Get the Gaff, St. Thomas, 34.8 lbs. (117.5 cm.)
8. Kevin Naguin, Triton's Jewel, St. Croix, 34.4 lbs.
9. Greg Pope, Oh Susanna, St. Croix, 34.0 lbs. (123 cm.)
10. Joey Lanclos, Abigail III, St. Thomas, 34.0 lbs. (112 cm.)
Best boat by count: Oh Susanna, 14 dolphin

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