Story by Mike House
|As the rest
of the world - in the Northern Hemisphere anyway begins to thoroughly enjoy their
summer after digging out of the snow and weathering spring storms in anticipation of a
season of fishing ahead, anglers in Hawaii never stop going to sea to compete with one
another. With tournaments ranging from $20.00
entries to events where optional categories can take the fees all the way up to $43,000 or
more, from big-boat tournaments to ones where an 18-foot Whaler has a chance, Hawaii is
again proving itself in the tournament arena.
Its easy to look at fisheries around the world and conclude the one with the largest fish is the best. And while that is often the case here in Hawaii, we think the big picture of the number of fish caught over a certain weight is a far better measure.
The results thus far continue to prove Hawaiis dominance as a fishery capable of producing consistently large fish. To say the results thus far are less than spectacular would be a gross injustice to the state as a whole, because before July is even over, the fifteen or so tournaments completed have racked up some great numbers of all four major species of flag fish.
start with the World Cup. In 2000, Hawaii had
two fish that could have won it, and the 633 pounder brought in on the Holly Ann in Kona
won the $122,000 prize. Another 515 pounder
caught in Kauai on the Carol Ann could have won, but there is no second place in that
tournament. Kauai, you ask?
Yes, Kauai. The garden isle has produced several large fish in charters and other private holoholo fishing trips, and they have even seen some of the first Black Marlin show up (two in the 500 and 600 range in early July). Because there have been so many large Marlin caught, angler Mike Contreras, one of the few anglers to have caught a grander in Kauai, elected to fish the World Cup in Kauai instead of Kona, and he almost won it.
the Marlin front, fifteen fish have come in over the 400-pound mark in a Hawaii tournament
so far, mostly on Oahu and Kona, with the largest to date at 787 pounds. Add to that the thirteen tagged Marlin that have
kept Hawaii focused on conservation, and the numbers just keep getting better.
Eleven Marlin have been scaled at over 500 pounds. Twenty-six Ahi over 100 pounds and four Bigeyes over 60 pounds have kept the Ahi anglers salivating for more. Hawaii anglers have also posted thirty-three Mahimahi over 30 pounds, and twenty-seven Ono over 30 pounds, and most of the Kona tournaments dont even count these feisty pelagic predators.
Following the $122,000 prize for Holly Ann in the World Cup, Jack Sanford is the highest money winner in a Hawaii tournament for 2000 with a whopping $77,750.00 won in the Firecracker Open. He won this prize while fishing on the Huntress with Randy Parker and managed to land the only Marlin of that tournament at 787 pounds.
angled his way to $53,360.00 for a 693 pound Marlin caught in the Big Island Invitational
on board Bruce Matsons Cormorant. Chaponot
also picked up $1,600 in the Kona Classic back in May with a 349-pound Marlin. The fourth highest single tournament money winner
thus far is Heath Rosa, who picked up $34,030.00 while fishing on the Ihu Nui in the Skins
Marlin Derby with Captain McGrew Rice.
All told, to date 12 teams have earned over $10,000 for their efforts in a tournament, and the total prizes given out thus far including merchandise is well over half a million.
Some tournaments are part of a season, and some of the fish caught in a specific tournament earn anglers and/or teams points good toward the season title. The Maui Jim Hawaii Marlin Series, hosted by Tropidilla productions in Kona, holds five tournaments in Kona, moves the series to Oahu, then back to Kona, and finally ends in Maui.
The top angler to date after four events is Rick Chaponot with 1,642 points earned in the Big Island Invitational and the Kona Classic. Second place belongs to Jack Sanford whose win at the Firecracker gave him 1,137 points.
place, Heath Rosa has 1,121 points for his win at the skins, while fourth place is held by
James Karamouzis who also placed well in the Skins with 973.5 points. Rounding out the top 5 is Charles Helschel who
earned 887.5 points in the Big Island Invitational.
Last years World Billfish Champion, Mike Vidal, is knocking at the door of the top five, earning 722 points thus far with strong showings in the Kona Classic and the Skins. Because of the nature of Hawaiis fishery, almost any angler has a chance to make it into the top five, and the rest of the season is certainly going to see different faces on the leaderboard.
Even with plenty of large Marlin caught so far, a bunch of nice sized Ahi, plus the other species Hawaii also has to offer, the tournament season has really only just begun. As of this writing the World Billfish Challenge is underway, and the world famous HIBT is ready to get rolling again after a hiatus last year. Many thought the cancellation of last years proceedings was the end of the fabled event, but organizers have regrouped and brought it back to life.
|After the HIBT
is the August Moon, the Kaneohe Yacht Club Open, the 30th anniversary of the
Lanai Rendezvous, a couple of Keehi Boat Club Pure Jackpots, and into September is the Hoolea
and the Okoe Bay Rendezvous. They just keep
coming with the Hawaii Yacht Clubs Wahine tournament, the Flying Fishing Freaks,
Huggos Wahine event, the Keehi Wahine event, and the schedule continues into October
with the world famous Lahaina Jackpot.
Tournament fishing is a great for way anglers of all ages and skill levels to test themselves against the best, and Hawaiis waters always prove anyone can win. From the Kona Classic where first time angler Byron Owens took the title to the Big Island Invitational where veteran Bruce Matson prevailed, from the Ahi Fever in Waianae where Tim Tuckers private boat and a crew from all over the country won it all, to the ITOC where well-seasoned tournament anglers rotated through the fleet, the Hawaii tournament schedule has something for everyone.
|And it sure
doesnt hurt to have warm waters and lots of large fish, either.
Watch for the tournament wrap-up in December, where Sportfish Hawaii tallies up all the winners, prizes and size of fish to see how they compared against each other.
Tournament Rankings to Date
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