St. Thomas is the base of the largest sportfishing fleet in the Virgin Islands. Sportfishers depart daily from marinas along the east end of the island, many headed to the North Drop, a famed fishing ground in the British Virgin Islands. Some sportfishing expeditions last at least a few hours; many last all day. Half-day trips begin at $700; full-day trips cost $1,200. A direct-to-the-North-Drop day trip will cost extra. Prices are quoted per boat, not per person. All bait, tackle, fuel, and beverages are (usually) included.
Marlin season is in the summer, when the waters are at their warmest. Marlin are tagged and released. Other sport fish, such as barracuda, wahoo, tuna, mahimahi, and jacks, can be kept; most boats will cut a fillet for you if you ask.
Black Pearl Charters (Sapphire Marina, 340/775-9982) has been in business for 30 years and operates out of a 38-foot sportfishing yacht with a full galley, air-conditioning, and head. Other sportfishers are Marlin Prince (340/693-5929), captained by Eddie Morrison, and Prowler II (340/775-7205 or 340/344-6212), captained by Mark Lamborn.
Captain Don Mertens runs Bluefin II (American Yacht Harbor, 340/775-6691), and Captain Red Bailey is at the helm of Abigail III (Sapphire Beach Marina, 340/775-6147). Other sportfishers include Double Header Sportfishing (Sapphire Marina, 340/777-7317), Peanut Gallery Sportfishing (Crown Bay Marina, 340/775-5274), and About Time Charters (340/779-9028).
The Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (6501 Red Hook Plaza, 340/775-9144, www.vigfc.com) organizes fishing tournaments, including the Offshore Marine Dolphin Derby in April, the July Open, and Wahoo Wind-Up every November.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Virgin Islands, 4th edition