The right place at the right time proved a winning combination for St. Thomas’ Thierry Williams. When the official weigh-in was complete at the 27th Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament, held July 12 at Hull Bay Hideaway, it was Williams who reeled in the Largest Kingfish, a 31.55-pounder, aboard the 23-foot Hanson, Oceanna. Williams was one of 210 anglers, including 33 junior anglers, on 63 boats who fished in this Northside Sportfishing Club-hosted tournament named one of the Top Ten Best Ways to Celebrate Bastille Day in the World by online travel advisor, Hotwire.com.
In Picture: Thierry Williams (center) caught the tournament’s Largest Kingfish, a 31.55-pounder, aboard Oceanna. Fellow anglers James Williams (left) and Albert Brin (right). Credit: Dean Barnes
“It was about 9 a.m. when I hooked up,” explains Williams, who caught his king-size kingfish on a pink skirted ballyhoo bait while fishing off St. Thomas’ northwest shore. “At first it didn’t feel like a big fish on the line, but I guess it was swimming towards us at the time. Then, when it got close to the boat, it took off which such speed and strength I knew it was good sized. It ran out and I had to reel it back twice more before my son was able to get a gaff in it and bring it aboard.”
Williams’ Largest Kingfish earned him $2000 in cash, plus many other prizes. The Second Largest Kingfish prize went to David Bryan, aboard Urshe, who caught a 21.15-pounder. John Lindsey, fishing aboard Mako, reeled in an 18.70-pounder to win the Third Largest Kingfish, while Mathew Bryan caught the Fourth Largest Kingfish, an 18.10-pounder, from the Feel Good I. Bryan also won Best Male Angler by catching five fish weighing 48.45-pounds.
With 18 eligible species of fish caught total, Capt. Tyler Maltby driving Double Header II won Best Boat. Meanwhile, the catch of 4 kingfish earned Capt. Claude Berry, aboard Reel-M-In, the Best Captain award. Kathy McAllister’s catch of 20.30-pounds of fish, aboard Double Header II, earned her the Best Female Angler award.
One of the prizes Best Female Angler Kathy will take home is this stylish beach cooler tote filled with all these high quality goodies (Leatherman tool, waterproof speaker, wet/dry bag, sunglasses, UV Tec zip up long sleeve polo, and more...)
Although the tournament is focused around kingfish, other species earned anglers cash and prizes. Robert Greaux, Jr., caught the Largest Barracuda, at 17.85-pounds, off the C-Hawk. Quadrille angler, Jody Fix, reeled in the Largest Mackerel, at 5.25-pounds. The Best Junior Male prize went to Eric McAllister, who caught a total of 17.80-pounds, aboard Double Header II. Bella Gatcliff won Best Junior Female with her catch of 50.35-pounds of fish aboard Double Header. Gatcliff also caught the Largest Bonita at 5.20-pounds.
In addition to cash, prizes and trophies, winners also received overnight stays at local hotels and a variety of luxury gifts generously donated tournament sponsors and locally owned businesses. Nearly $20,000 was awarded in cash and prizes this year.
Adult and junior anglers who didn’t earn a prize still had a chance to win in the ‘Hard Luck’’ and the ‘Catch in the Hat’ drawings.
Judges Herman Richardson and Kevin Laplace, Sr., officially weighed in the catches.
After weigh-in, the fun continued onshore at Hull Bay Hideaway. Cool Session Brass entertained throughout the afternoon. Later, crowds gathered inside Hull Bay Hideaway for the Awards Ceremony at 8 p.m., where the Top Notch band entertained.
The 27th Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament is sponsored by Coors Light and Captain Morgan, distributed by Bellows International; Offshore Marine, the Yamaha distributor in the Virgin Islands; NEMWIL, managed in the USVI by Red Hook Agencies, Inc., providing homeowners and business insurance in the USVI for over 20 years; TOPA Insurance Services Inc., and Budget Marine, the Caribbean’s leading chandlery.
First organized by the Northside Sportfishing Club in 1987, the tournament has become one of the highlights of St. Thomas’ French Heritage Week.
The event benefits the Joseph Sibilly School, the Family Resource Center and My Brother’s Workshop, as well as provides college scholarships. Over the past quarter-century-plus, the nonprofit Northside Sportfishing Club by way of its annual Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament has donated $157,000 to community organizations.