"Gloria was a quite, shy, gracious woman who with a rod and reel in her hand, her husband at the wheel... could whip any fish out there." - Capt. Jimmy Loveland
The late Captain Johnny Harms will always be known for pioneering sports fishing in the Virgin Islands, yet it is Gloria Applegate who will forever be remembered as one of the most productive anglers of all times. "She broke almost all women's records and caught well over 200 marlin while on St. Thomas," says Sue Boland, an avid angler who remembers sharing a toast of champagne with Gloria and husband, Capt. Nelson Applegate, dockside at the Lagoon Fishing Center, now Lavida Marina, the day of Gloria's 200th marlin catch in 1977.
Petite and pretty, Gloria was both strong and serious about her fishing.
For such a little lady, she could sure reel in the fish," said Danny Boland, who worked as a mate aboard the Applegate's Whittaker 46', MAKO, during the summer of 1977. "She'd stand up, using all the muscles in her legs and arms, never sitting down in the fighting chair for an hour or more at a time while fighting a fish."
Among Gloria's memorable world records was a 705-pound blue marlin reeled in on 80-pound test.
On one occasion, Danny Boland recalled, Gloria missed a bite and Nelson raised his voice. "She stood up, told him to control his temper and went into the salon. We just sat there, dead in the water. She didn't come out for 45 minutes. When she did, she and Nelson made up and we were back to fishing. She took fishing very seriously. Most days, usually 5 to 6 days a week from June through September, she'd sit there all day long and watch her baits. Other than having me rig the baits, she did everything else herself. She was just excellent. I learned a lot that summer."
An article in the January 26, 1970, Virgin Islands Daily News gives a glimpse of Gloria's skill and accomplishment. Under the headline the reads: "Applegate Awarded Top prizes by Fishing Club", the story details that at the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club's annual awards banquet for 1969, Gloria won the majority of prizes. She took first place for overall points among many other skillful anglers, set three world records, took first in outstanding catches of the year with a 322-blue marlin on 20-pound test line, and scored in the wahoo, Allison tuna, dolphin, bonito, blackfin tuna, kingfish and barracuda divisions.
Two years later, she was the first woman to quality for the coveted Grand Master Angler. To qualify, she boated all of the Big Five game fish - blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, and wahoo - on 12-pound test line.
The Applegate's learned of the great Virgin Islands sport fishing through Johnny Harms. Like Harms, Gloria helped put these waters on the international map for keen billfishermen worldwide through her many world records and fantastic fishing feats.