welcome to the super bowl of sportfishing! observer information bts leg #3 us virgin islands


New "Team Division" Announced Jan. 1st. 2016

Welcome to the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT). We ask participants to realize that the intent of these rules is to afford anglers and crews the opportunity to compete with one another on an equal basis. This event is considered to be a "modified release" format in that a potential IGFA world record catch may be boated in US waters.

ABMT position statement issued 07/23/2011 regarding angler eligibility See Here

International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) rules apply. However, IGFA does not write guidelines regarding release and the necessity of species identification prior to release... nor does it attempt to write rules to insure that angler equality is maintained during tournament fishing. It therefore becomes the responsibility of the tournament operator to insure that "fairness" prevails every minute of the event.

The ABMT now offers anglers the choice of entering into its newly developed “Team Division” or simply sticking with the traditional “Angler Division” that requires "rod rotation" and other rules designed to measure the individual feats of anglers. The ABMT's new dual format is considered “cutting edge” in that both divisions are competition for the same cash pots (Calcutta, Daily’s and Last Day Shootout). There will also be “Top Team” and “Top Angler” awards presented to the winners.

General Rules - Rules Applying to Both Divisions

1. Anglers must be pre-registered and pre-paid before the start of the event. Any necessity to add replacement angler(s) must be approved by the tournament operator.

2. Anglers in both divisions shall fish the same hours and same fishing days. 2016 Days: Aug. 15, 16, 17 and 19. The first three (3) day's of the tournament are nine hour (8:30 - 5:30) fishing days. The day of the full moon is considered the "rest" day. The 4th and last day of the event is an 8 hour (8:30 - 4:30) fishing day.

3. Anglers in the both divisions shall fish with IGFA rated 50lb. test line. Backing is allowed if it is unattached to the tournament line. Captains will be asked to sign a form stating that their line is IGFA rated 50lb. test.

4. Entrants may not fish this event without an observer. Observers may not be kept out beyond the end of the tournament day unless a fish is being fought that was hooked during tournament hours. Daily catch forms reflect the observer's recorded time for the "boating" or "releasing" of fish. It's the responsibility of the anglers and crew to verify the catch times on the observer's daily report.

5. Anglers and crews must be willing to protest the illegal actions of others. This applies to any onboard actions and those known to be happening aboard other vessels. Formal protest must be submitted in writing to the judges and issues resolved on the same day. All parties must be present at any hearing that is scheduled to settle a protest. Judged decisions are final.

6. Points are scored as follows: A released Blue Marlin receives four hundred (400) points. A boated Blue Marlin that equals or exceeds the weigh of the existing IGFA Atlantic World Record receives four hundred (400) points. Ties are broken by the time method. High score "first" wins in both divisions. Tag points are a crew award - they do not affect the overall standings of the competitors in either division.

7. The official reporting channel is VHF channel 19. The back up channel is 18. Captains must report all hookups and catches. Silence is greatly appreciated on the tournament channel.


The "Team Division" is fished by 1-4 angles. Both the ABMT's General Rules and IGFA rules apply.

1. No more than 4 baited hooks are allowed in the water at any time. A backup “pitch” rod may be used, provided there are never more than 4 baited hooks in the water at the same time. Teasers are unlimited in size and numbers.

2. Anglers must declare their intent to boat or release each fish that is hooked. A hastily given decision may not later be reversed. The mate may not grasp the leader until the observer has witnessed the angler's intent. The observer reserves the right to demand the fish be wired to the surface for a close up inspection (small fish species identification, possible shark bite after long fight, etc.). The official time of release is recorded when the observer has called for the release of the fish. The official time of a "boated" catch is when the observer feels the fish is subdued alongside.


The rules of this division are time tested and were written in order to measure the accomplishments of individual anglers. In addition to their goal to win the cash pots - these anglers are competing for the tournament's prestigious "Top Angler" (1st. 2nd. 3rd.) awards. Required is a willingness to fairly rotate rod positions with fellow anglers.

1. No more than 4 baited hooks are allowed in the water at any time. 1 backup “pitch” rod may be used provided there are never more than 4 baited hooks in the water at the same time. Crews may not "pitch" the bait of an angler. Double lines are not permitted. A swivel must be between the angler's line and the leader.

2. A minimum of 2 anglers and a maximum of 4 anglers allowed. The observer must be informed of plans for the "fair" rotation of rods prior to the start of the fishing day. Anglers are responsible for the maintenance of rod rotation and every minute of the day must be accounted for. Fish caught out of rotation will not count in the tournament.

3. If the minimum of two (2) anglers is reduced due to the incapacitation or illness of an angler - the rod position(s) of the missing angler must be fished by a crew member. Fish raised to the baits of the missing angler must be hooked and fought to full term. Any attempt to intentionally miss the strike, break the line or guide the fish to the bait of the other angler will be considered an illegal act. Should an angler on a vessel with 3 or more registered anglers declare "incapacitation" - the remaining anglers shall fairly split up the "rod time" of the missing angler. The observer must approve of any changes made to earlier stated plans of rod rotation.

4. Anglers may not attempt to steal strikes from fellow anglers. Captains and crews may not favor one angler over another.

5. A "hook up" is declared when the rod is continually bent for twenty (20) seconds. As soon as twenty (20) seconds have passed, anglers must immediately and rapidly remove their baits from the water. Fish that are hooked during the rapid retrieval of the baits may be legally caught. If the angler delays the retrieval process any subsequent catch will be disqualified.

6. Anglers must declare their intent to boat or release each fish that is hooked. A hastily given decision may not later be reversed. Mates may not grasp the leader until the observer has witnessed the angler's intent and the swivel has touched the rod tip. After these procedures are followed the mate may grasp the leader anytime it comes within reach.

7. A maximum fighting time of three (3) hours is allowed. Observers may grant 2 hours of additional time if all anglers onboard agree to the extension of time. Anglers may not go beyond the 7:30 p.m. cut off time on the last day.

8. Two (2) minutes are allowed for tagging and lure retrieval. Fish that are carelessly mishandled (prop damaged, tagged in vital organs, etc.) during the tag attempt will not count for crew tag points.

9. When multiple fish are raised at the same time, the angler who hooks up first shall control the boat. Control of the vessel may be passed back and forth as needed, but the observer must witness the verbal agreements of anglers.

10. There must be a captain and two mates on every vessel. Anglers competing in this division may not perform crew duties. The exception is that an angler may guide the chair of a fellow angler. Anglers may make their own bait and change their own bait, but they may not touch the rod or make the baits of a competing angler.


1. Impending weather before the start of the tournament: In the event that the tournament is canceled before the start of the tournament a refund of fifty (50%) percent of the entry fees and one hundred (100%) percent of the Calcutta and Boat Pool fees shall be returned. If any portion of the tournament is fished and three (3) or more blue marlin are caught -all awards including the Calcutta's cash prizes will be issued.

2. Before the start of a tournament day: In the event of bad weather on the morning of a tournament day, the Tournament Committee will consult with five (5) captains entered into the event. A decision to fish or to cancel the day of competition will be made by 7:00 a.m.

3. During the tournament day: If a fishing day is in progress and the weather becomes a threat, the day's fishing may be canceled by the consensus of any five (5) captains polled over the airwaves by the Radio Control operator.

Good Luck to all Participants!