Curt Scott is a renaissance man when it comes to fishing. "My best day was when I caught four blue marlin all by myself," says the 74-year-old Scott who calls both Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgins home. Over the last 18 years, Scott has caught another twenty-three blue marlin while wearing the hats of captain, mate and angler all at the same time.
A New York native, Scott started fishing while working as a camp counselor in Maine. "After that, I sailed around the world and one of my last stops was St. Thomas," Scott explains. "I came back to St. Thomas in 1958 and started a surveying company. It was about that time that I met Capt. Johnny Harms and Capt. Jerry Black. The three of us would go out fishing together. We sure didn't know much in those days."
The late legendary Harms was tapped by Laurence Rockefeller in the late 1950's and early 1960's to explore the sports fishing potential of Virgin Islands' waters and set up charters for Rockefeller's guests at Caneel Bay.
"No one had the gumption, money and facility to head out to the rough north to look for fish before Harms. He's who really discovered the North Drop," Scott says.
Photo left - Curt flys a kite to pull a bait on a cruise ship crossing.
Billfish are Scott's favorite specie to catch. "Its because of their size and activity. Big blues are great. Bottom fish are good to eat, but the blues are exciting to catch."
Although Scott's wife, Barbara, is his head gaffer and accompanies him on many fishing trips, Scott prefers to fish without other anglers due to his unique fishing style. "I troll mostly and use 50-pound test. I'm not into pitch baiting because I catch and release the fish myself. My boat is customized so that the controls are right in the chair and I can run the boat while fighting a fish. I don't have to keep running up to the fly bridge like I did with my old boat. I also have a control in my pocket for stand up fishing. As I reel, buttons make the engines turn back and forth. I can't really steer, but all I really need to do is keep the stern to the fish. This is the real fun for me - running the boat, boating the fish as I did years ago or now releasing it - all by myself."
The Scott Free is a 52-foot custom-built rig with an Egg Harbor hull.
Now retired from a career as a land developer, that included developing the Scott Free and Frenchman's Bay estates areas on St. Thomas, Scott enjoys fishing about 100 days a year and in a variety of locales. "I take a month and a half each year to work my way down from Florida to St. Thomas so that I can fish the Bahamas," he says. "I've also taken the boat down to Venezuela and flown to Hawaii where my son lives and fished there."
But, his best fish story comes from Virgin Islands' waters. "Year's ago, I took Rick Hilton, of Hilton Hotels fame, out fishing. Rick had never caught a billfish and wanted to do so. So, I took him out to the Drop. After awhile, he hooked up a 280-pound blue marlin. He fought it from the chair for a while and then all of a sudden stopped. The line was still taut, and I thought it probably got tangled in the prop. So, I put a mask on and jumped over the side. It was then I saw the blue marlin was wedged between the rudder and the bottom of the boat. I eventually pulled the fish out and Hilton went on to catch him. Boy, we couldn't have done that if there was any kind of swell. But, it was a rare calm day out on the Drop.
Photo left - Curt and wife Barbara on a recent trip to South Pole
He continues, "I will fish the Boy Scout tournament (USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament in St. Thomas) because of the skill level of the anglers."
In the future of the sport of fishing, Scott says he foresees "more regulations and more problems.
Due to the rising cost of diesel fuel, it's gotten really expensive to go fishing. Boats are so sophisticated these days. Mine is worth almost $2 million. And, engines burn fuel like there's no tomorrow. It costs $800 to $900 in fuel just to get to the Drop and back. In the Bahamas, fuel is $5 a gallon. Billfishing is becoming a rich man's sport and I hate to see it go that way."