GRAEME DAVIS - MARLIN ARE GREAT AND MEATFISH ARE TOO!
Catching is what fishing is all about for Graeme Davis, an avid lifelong angler and Managing Director of the Westin St. John resort located on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John. "I love marlin," says Davis. "Tuna have an excellent bite too, as do mahi mahi and wahoo. Heck, I enjoy catching just about anything. There's that anticipation of what's on the line, the excitement of the fight and thrill at the actual catch - that's what I love about the sport of fishing."
A native of Sydney, Australia, home of excellent fishing along the Great Barrier Reef, it wasn't until Davis' family moved to Miami Beach, Florida, that he began fishing. "I was 5-years-old when my family moved. We lived right on the water and I'd fish as often as I could, two to three times per week, from either the docks or from our small Boston Whaler. I'd go after species like trout or bonefish."
When he was a few year's older, Davis' family purchased a 45-foot ketch and spent a month four summers in a row cruising a different chain of islands in the Bahamas. "It was the Abacos one summer, Exumas the next and so on," he says. "I passed the time by fishing. It beat being bored and the 6-knot cruising speed was perfect for trolling."
One of Davis' most memorable catches happened when he was just 9 years old. "We were near the drop-off at Andros when I hooked up a mahi mahi with a plastic lure on 10-pound test. The fish must have weighed at least 35 pounds. We didn't have a gaff, so my brother jumped into the dinghy we were towing and tried to pull the fish in. He eventually lost it over the side, but not without a good half hour fight," he describes.
Davis' fishing fun took a hiatus during the year's he attended the University of New Hampshire. He then joined hotel chains as managerial staff and moved around quite a bit. "I worked at hotels in Washington, DC and Palm Springs, then transferred to resorts and headed out to Hawaii. I got back into fishing a bit in Maui, but there was a limit to how much deep-sea fishing I could do on a young manager's salary."
In 1993, Davis was sent to manage the El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico, which included oversight of the marina as well. "Capt. Eduardo Alcaide ran his 50-foot Hatteras, Big Time, out of there. I went out every weekend with him and had all my new managers go too, to the point that my boss complained that I was running a fishing camp."
Next, Davis was transferred to Cancun, where he unfortunately didn't get to go fishing much. Then came the move to St. John in mid-2001. "I bought a 31-foot Fountain Center Console, with twin 250s, a live bait well, two electrc reels for deep water fishing, electric downrigger, outriggers and Shimano's 25- and 50-pound test reels. I had a real field day outfitt ing the boat at Neptune in Red Hook."
Weekend trips year-round for meat fish on his own and summer trips for marlin aboard the Abigail III with Capt. Red Bailey were on Davis' regular fishing agenda. After he sold the Fountain, he instead went out on the Westin's 45-foot Luhrs Express, Mixed Bag, with Capt. Rob Richards at the helm.
"Rob is great. He's so passionate about fishing that he'll be out at 5 in the morning catching live baitfish. Then, he's not content to just troll a line. He sets out multiple rigs so that we catch something for sure," Davis explains.
One of Davis' most exciting recent catches was a near-record, 100-pound, cubera snapper caught off the South Drop. "It was right on the tip of the 1000-foot drop off. It was really exciting to pull something up from those depths and see what was on the line," he says.
In addition to recreational fishing, Davis competes in local tournaments such as the July Open and USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament. "Fishing with the big players is exciting, but there's tremendous pressure to not make a mistake," Davis says.
Davis foresees the sport of fishing heading in an increasing conservation-oriented direction. "For the sport and the industry to remain strong, there needs to be more catch and release. Governments too, our own as well as those of countries such as China and Japan, need to take a critical view of their impact on the industry."
In the meantime, Davis has his own vested interest for hoping that the sport of fishing remains alive and well. "My 9-year-old daughter caught a 45-pound wahoo and was thrilled," he says. "I want my 5-year-old daughter and 10-month old son to have the same fishing experiences I did as a child."
As a side note, those looking for a boat to fish this year's USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament should check out the Westin St. John's website. Davis has put together a package for four anglers to charter the boat, with shoreside accommodations and other amenities included for one price. For more information: See Fishing Package