1999 Flying Fishing Freaks Tournament Report

Story by Mike House, photo courtesy of Kay Kolt and Jerri Sutcliffe

Not many fishermen and not many fish, but a giant was caught on the first day of the 1999 Flying Fishing Freaks Tournament in Kona.  Such is the nature of fishing in Hawaii, because when things look their bleakest, something comes along to change everyone’s opinion forever.

For the second straight year, Kay Kolt has been hit with an airline conflict that has dramatically affected participation in her flying fishing freaks tournament.  The tournament, which is open to essentially anyone connected with the travel industry and is predominantly filled with airline employees, has been scheduled in October in an effort to avoid conflicts with other major events.  Unfortunately, in 1998, the Northwest Airlines pilot strike cut into everyone’s ability to fly, while in 1999 the American Dental Association Convention in Honolulu filled up the seats on most of the planes coming to Hawaii.

Now don’t get us wrong, we’re grateful for the outstanding showing of Aloha demonstrated by the people of Hawaii before, during, and after the convention, but most of the anglers who participate in this tournament fly standby.  Thus, with all the seats taken during the exact time of the tournament, Kay’s anglers were calling from all over the country lamenting that they couldn’t get to Hawaii.

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The team aboard Ho'okele with their 933

Shaken but not deterred, Kay held the tournament as planned with six boats participating on October 12 and 13.  With teams competing from Taipei, the Marshall Islands, Florida, the event was still quite international in flavor – typical for airline employees.  But even with the few boats entered, the competition was no less intense.  The call to start fishing was made, and the teams hit the water with a rush.

Only three hookups were reported over the two days, which was unusually slow given the level of fishing activity Hawaii has seen in the past few weeks.  Skip Foster, a Northwest Airlines Pilot fishing aboard the Anxious, tagged and released a small Marlin while the Thrillseeker got into a six foot shark that was ultimately cut free as well.  But the big story was on day one aboard Ho’okele with Captain Guy Terwilliger.

Fishing with two live baits, one on a downrigger and the other near the surface, the team had high hopes of getting something on the line early on the 12th.  However, they didn’t realize just what nature had in store for them as a fish exploded onto the lower bait, and then crashed into the surface bait within a few seconds of each other as though it didn’t even realize it was hooked up.   Angler Bob Friedman of Minnesota was glad his team was able to get to Hawaii for the tournament, because within an hour, he had angled a great fish onto the boat that was pushing the magical grander mark. 

Teammate Larry Adler was charged with taking up the slack from the second line, thus the fish wouldn’t have met IGFA regulations for the fight.  Nonetheless, this was a fun tournament and not held in accordance with IGFA rules, and thus Kay was pleased to make the award presentation to Friedman and the team for their great catch of 933 pounds.

The fish was the sixth largest overall caught in Hawaii in 1999 to date, behind two granders (1048 and 1041), a 979, a 973, and a 939.  It was also the third largest caught in a tournament for the year, behind the 1041 (caught by a skiff in a small local tournament) and the 979 caught by the Legend in the Skins tournament in July.  

Look for the Flying Fishing Freaks Tournament to be held on new dates next year, as Kay just hasn’t had any luck with October.  She will be moving the event to September 27 and 28, 2000 with the skipper’s briefing on the 26th.   See our 2000 Tournament Schedule.

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