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2000 Hawaii Big Game Fishing Tournament Year in Review
Brought to you by Destination: PACIFIC

By Mike House

As we listened to the skippers of Hawaii talk about a slow year of fishing in 2000, we thought the tournament results might also reflect a disappointing year.  Readers of the earlier, mid-season tournament year in review might recall the theme as being "Big but not lots" but as the year progressed, the season came out strong after all.   

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It was quite a challenge this year to obtain and compile all the results from the individual tournament operators, and when reading through the results, you might notice a few significant tournaments missing.  The HIBT, which returned in 2000, results were unavailable at posting time, and will be added when received.  Organizers are busy preparing for another great year and digging out information from last year is a task that is a bit less important than planning the future.  Similarly, the World Billfish Challenge had a good sophomore year, but, operators failed to provide us with data that could be used in the review. 

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The winning Marlin in Ho'ole'a 2000 - 729.5 landed by Ikaika

SO without further ado, let's look at the results, as best as we could compile them.  Starting with the Marlin division, Tropidilla Production's Maui Jim Hawaii Marlin Series had a great year.  Every event in the eight-tournament series with the exception of the Lahaina Jackpot produced a Marlin in excess of 650 pounds, and the top Marlin for this year was caught in the Firecracker Open.  Team Huntress with Captain Randy Parker plucked the largest fish at 787 pounds, and angler Jack Sanford and the crew shared $77,750.00 in winnings. 

We knew the tournament year had some large fish, and evidence came in the form of totals for fish over 500 pounds.  In 1999, only eight made it over the half-grand mark, but in 2000, over 17 were better than 500 (I say "over" because there were many reports of other tournament caught fish over 500 pounds we were unable to verify.  We understand the HIBT Pro-Am's top fish was just over 800 pounds). 

Distribution for the larger fish over 500 was spread out among the islands nicely, with almost half of the total being caught outside of Kona.  In fact, Kauai got into the act on the World Cup weekend when the Carol Ann picked up a 515 pound Blue to place second in this world-wide tournament.  Interestingly, as a side bar, we also heard of two Black Marlin over 600 pounds coming in to Kauai around that July 4th weekend, but not in a tournament, and many anglers in the know are beginning to think of Kauai when looking to compete for large fish.

This year we decided to take the Marlin list to 200 pounds instead of just 250.  Even so, more fish were caught over 250 pounds (38) than in 1999 (29), and the distribution around the state clearly shows the big fish were caught everywhere.  Of the 47 largest tournament caught fish to 200 pounds, 23 were caught in Kona, 18 were off Oahu, 5 were caught off Maui, and one was caught off Kauai.  Fully half of the fish were outside of Kona waters.  Might be something to consider when planning a fishing vacation to Hawaii.
The year of the release

At times Hawaii has been criticized by outside observers that the emphasis on taking fish (especially in tournaments) is damaging the fishery and Hawaii's reputation.  But one fact that seems to be consistently overlooked is that Hawaii does have many anglers that support the principles of tag and release.  In 2000, we found over fifty-six smaller Marlin that were released for tournament points scoring.  Though most of the releases took place in the inaugural Rolex/IGFA Tournament of Champions, others got into the act as well. 

Senoritas, on the island of Oahu, became the first ever tournament in Hawaii outside of Kona to pay major jackpot prizes to the top two teams for their released billfish, and the Ho'ole'a followed it up in September with a released Blue on the Hawaiian 40 with Captain Tim Meyer.

The largest payoff for a released fish for 2000 was on board the Pamela, where a released Blue landed the team over $31,000.00 in the Big Island Invitational.  Pamela's winning were sixth overall in the money list as well.

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Kahuna Kai's Released Marlin in Senorita's
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Alele II's Released Marlin in Senorita's

BIG Game Tournaments vs Marlin only tournaments

One of the reasons many outside observers see larger concentrations of Marlin in Kona tournaments is simply because of the nature of the tournament.  Most of the larger events in Kona are Marlin only tournaments, so every boat is setting their gear specifically to catch Marlin and try to avoid other species.  Many other tournaments around the islands are "big game" tournaments that offer all kinds of prizes for other species, most notably the Ahi (Yellowfin tuna).  

Eighty-four Ahi over 100 pounds made it to the list in 2000 tournaments.  I expanded the list to 100 pounds to demonstrate the large numbers of these great fish caught, but 2000 was clearly a better tournament year for Ahi even if we did stop the list at 150.  In 1999, we had only 14 Ahi reported over 150 pounds in tournaments, whereas in 2000, 26 teams managed to break the 150 barrier in an tournament, 10 of which came in the Ho'ole'a in September.  In fact, the Ho'ole'a produced 20 of the 84 Ahi over 100 pounds in a late season bite.

The island of Oahu dominated the Ahi rankings, as some of the tournaments place a higher regard for Ahi than billfish - to wit: Ahi Fever in Waianae.  The largest winnings for Ahi in 2000 went to Hanamana in the Firecracker Open, with the team taking in $11,280 for their efforts.  Though the Ahi Fever in Waianae is a 260-boat event year after year, it is more of a "share the wealth" tournament, giving the top prize of $10,000 to the team with the largest Ahi.  

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The Ahi Fever Perpetual Trophy
wins for the most spectacluar tournament trophy!


Although the HIBT events and the World Billfish Challenge events are not included in he totals (estimated at over $200,000 in payouts), the cash prizes for 2000 still made it well over $700,000.00.  Add to this the other tournaments not reported and all the merchandise prizes given away, and the total tournament winnings easily exceeded $1,000,000.00, and probably would approach approximately $1.3 to 1.4 million. 

The big winner for 2000 was Kerwin Matsunaga on the Holly Ann, who brought the World Cup trophy back to Hawaii on July 4th with a 633 pound Blue Marlin and claiming $122,000 in the process.  A 585 pound Blue was reported of San Salvador for second place and a 515 pound Blue was also caught off Kauai, but in the World Cup, it's winner take all.

In tournaments that were locally run and fished, it seems fitting that the largest fish won the largest amount of cash, and in 2000 it was to be with the Huntress taking $77,750 for the 787 pounder in the Firecracker Open. 

Tropidilla Productions tournaments claimed 8 of the top 10 highest payouts in tournaments as part of the Maui Jim Hawaii Marlin Series, continuing a long tradition of higher end tournaments and large payouts.

2000 saw more teams make it to the leader board with winnings over $2000, with 68 claiming winnings over this amount, compared to only 49 in 1999.  


Though the overall year of fishing in Hawaii was a little slower than it had been in previous years, it wasn't reflected in the tournament season much.   More teams participated in Hawaii tournaments than in recent years, more payouts were made, and perhaps most importantly, a large quarry of impressive fish were caught, keeping anglers happy.

Enjoy this year's round up, and please feel free to comment with emails or calls as you see fit.  Please also send your emails and calls to tournament operators who failed to provide us with data, because Sportfish Hawaii will list any tournament event and the results so long as the tournament is open to the public.  We don't discriminate - we want everyone to see all tournament data side by side.

Largest Marlin Category
Released Marlin Earning Points
Largest Ahi
Largest Spearfish
Largest Mahimahi
Largest Ono
Highest Winnings in a Tournament
Most Boats in a Tournament

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Destination: PACIFIC offers Fishing, Diving and Eco-Tours to select locations in the Pacific, including Midway, Hawaii, Christmas Island, Baja California Mexico, and British Columbia.

Visit the website at

Click here
for the 2001 Hawaii Fishing Tournament Schedule and links to 2000 Reports

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