Jose Valdes - Team Lady Lou - Hard to beat!
Jose Valdes, one of Puerto Rico's keenest and most competent anglers, says his favorite sports fishing event is the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT) or 'Boy Scout Tournament', held each year out of St. Thomas over the August full moon. Why? "It's the quality of the competition," says Valdes, who enjoys angling from his 66-foot Paul Spencer-built yacht, Lady Lou. Ironically, while some of the most skilled sports fishermen in the world fish the ABMT, it is Valdes' team Lady Lou that has more often than not been the boat to beat.
"One of the highlights in my career is placing first four years in a row, from 1999 to 2002, in the Boy Scout Tournament," says Valdes. "Our best fishing day happened on the third day of the 2002 tournament. That's when we released 7 blue marlin for 7 strikes."
That year, Lady Lou finished Best Boat with a phenomenal 12 releases, while Valdes' son, Jose Valdes, Jr., released four blue marlin to earn the coveted Best Angler award. "It was great," says Valdes. "All the blue marlin is what keeps us coming each year."
It wasn't always blue marlin that Valdes set his sights.
"I evolved from handline bottom fishing in the 1950's and 1960's to sports fishing in the 1970's," he says. "Now, I like blue marlin best. It's the best fight there is."
Photo Left - Team Lady Lou during first annual BTS 'Harbour Island Open'
Valdes likes to use 50-pound test when billfishing. "When I'm fishing for fun, I like pitch baiting. In tournaments, I prefer trolled lures."
Each year, Valdes competes in tournaments such as the San Juan International, ABMT, July Open, Mayaguez's Blue Marlin Light Tackle Tournament and the Bahamas Harbour Island Tournament. He, and Team Lady Lou, were among the pioneering entrants in the Bermuda Triangle Series trio of regattas, where the first year Lady Lou won the 'Overall Best of Series' title.
Valdes travels further a field, having fished in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Guatemala, the Bahamas, Florida and North Carolina, enjoying Venezuela and St. Thomas fishing the best.
Photo right - The newest Lady Lou - 66' Paul Spencer debuts during 2005 ABMT.
Working professionally in housing development doesn't leave much time for fishing. "I don't get to fish as much as I'd like, maybe 50 days a year," he says.
This year, Valdes' fishing calendars calls for Venezuela from February to April, the Bahamas in May and June, and St. Thomas from July through September.
In the future, he says, "I see the sport of fishing moving towards greater conservation through research and release."
Note: The Tournament Committee and the VI Council of Boy Scouts are eternally grateful
to Jose Valdes and Team Lady Lou for their participation in the inaugural year of the Bermuda Triangle Series. Lady Lou ran from Puerto Rico to Harbour Island to be there for the startup of the new series! Many thanks to Jose Valdes for his kind support! JL