welcome to the super bowl of sportfishing! it pays to play! observer information bts leg #1 harbour island, bahamas bts leg #2 bermuda where the granders lurk! bts leg #3 us virgin islands


By Carol Bareuther

If you’re looking for fresh seafood, especially really fresh fish prepared in a variety of mouth-watering ways, you don’t even have to leave the dock. At Fish Tails, located where the water meets the land at the head of “P” Dock at the American Yacht Harbor Marina, in Red Hook, you’re very likely to see a fisherman carrying his just-caught catch straight back to the chef in the kitchen. What also makes Fish Tails special is that the owners, Kelley and Capt. Rob Olive, have a rich family fishing history that’s an integral part of the sports fishing industry in the Virgin Islands. In other words, these folks know their fish – how to catch them, how to cook them, and how to cater to local and visiting sports fishermen, captains and crews. Photo top left: Restaurant owners Kelly and Rob Olive

If you’re walking up “P” Dock, you can’t help but notice the open-air 118-seat dining room of Fish Tails.This is the former location of restaurants such as Café Wahoo and Off the Hook. The Olives have raised the floor so the dining room is no longer split level, which makes the view beautiful and the breeze welcome. They’ve also rebuilt the 27-seat bar. This is definitely an oasis fishermen flock to for the daily Happy Hour from 3 pm to 6 pm when domestic beer and well drinks sell for $2 each, imports and call drinks for $3 each, and oysters on the half shell for $14 per dozen or $7 for a half-dozen.

Fish Tails serves the same mouth-watering menu from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., so if you’re in early or fighting the big one late, there’s great food waiting.

Local is definitely more than lip-service here.

“There’s not a day that goes by when we don’t have fresh fish from the local fishermen,” says Kelley. “In other words, what you order could have been swimming three to four hours before.”

Kelley adds, “In addition to the usual dolphin (mahi-mahi), tuna and wahoo, we’ll have more unusual species like Zulu snapper, queen snapper and rainbow runner. Uncle Eddie (Olive) supplies us with all our yellowtail snapper out of Frenchtown.

”Eddie Olive is a legend in the local commercial fishing community. Likewise, a photo on the wall just past the entrance into the restaurant documents Rob’s parents standing by a 567-pound blue marlin in 1973 at the docks in Red Hook; Rob is the tow-headed toddler in family’s arms. Through the years, Rob cut his teeth in the industry mating for some of the best captains on the island, like Capt. Spike Herbert. Today, Rob runs the 52-foot Viking, Producer, for a private owner. The boat is often an entrant in the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament.

“We decided right off the bat that we didn’t want to buy frozen or pre-breaded fish,” says Kelley. “We cut the filets ourselves, make our own breading and bread the fish fresh each day. We even make our own mozzarella sticks from scratch. Potatoes too are hand cut into fries and dusted with our own special seasoning.

”Beyond fresh fish, there’s an ocean-load of other fresh seafood on the menu: crab, shrimp, scallops, oysters, calamari, mussels, lobster, to name a few. In fact, Fish Tail’s signature dish is the Fish Tails’ Steamed Fishermen’s Platter. This serves up a half-pound each of Alaskan king crab legs, Dungeness crab, shrimp and andouille sausage. Also on the menu is farm-raised catfish, and three types of Po Boy’s – shrimp, oyster and scallop, all with Cajun mayonnaise.

Local even extends to the salads.“We buy a mix of locally grown organic greens from farmers on the Northside,” says Kelley.

Delicious follows through to dessert. There’s house-made Key Lime Pie, Crème Brule and Brownie Sundae.

Photo: Bartenders Ernesta and Noel will keep your drinks full!

Fish Tails is family-friendly. There’s a kid’s menu with fish and chips, chicken strips, burgers, pasta and grilled cheese. There’s also a kid’s play table with coloring sheets and movies playing continuously. This area is in full sight of parents seated in the dining room, yet far enough away for kids to have their fun and parents to enjoy their time too.

“This summer,” says Kelley, “we plan to start serving breakfast starting at 7 a.m. There will be traditional breakfast foods like Belgian waffles and eggs any-style as well as choices on the lighter side such as muffins, cereals and fresh fruit.

Fish Tails is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Visa, Master Charge and Discover are accepted. Reservations are recommended. For reservations, call 340-714-3188.