1999 Lahaina Jackpot Fishing Tournament Report

It takes a combination of many different elements to win a fishing tournament where a $25,000.00 first prize is on the line.  Preparation of the boat, gear and crew is essential and good knowledge of the fishing grounds is helpful as well.  Good angling technique once a fish strikes is another requirement, but the key ingredient in an ocean where fish as large as 2,000 pounds roam is luck.  When all the ingredients are boiled down, it’s the boat that manages to position itself over the right fish and manages to hang on that gets the prize. 
With a long history of large fish coming to the scales such as Cormorant’s 1201 lb effort in 1993 and a twin 1100 pounders scaled in 1997, it’s no wonder the skippers come from all over Hawaii to participate in this annual favorite.  Until this year, only four fish under 400 pounds have won the event, and only once was the winner landed at less than three hundred.  And to increase the stakes, the average weight of the winners over the 22-year history is over 530 pounds.  Thus in 1999, once again the troops came to town in force with hopes of landing that magical $25,000.00 Lahaina fish in October. lycjkpt2.jpg (28821 bytes)

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Major sponsor Team Maui Jim with their Day 1 Marlin

Day one got off to a roaring start.  One of the major sponsors, Maui Jim sunglasses, entered their boat into the event and sent a qualified team of anglers to sea.  The start fishing call was made at 7:00, and the majority of the boats roared up to the North Shore of Molokai.  Maui Jim’s skipper Tom Casey had the same idea and headed to the corner at Halawa as well.  The team set the lines in the water and within a few minutes, they struck a Marlin.  Angler Tom Guthrie jumped into the chair and retrieved the fish in less than half an hour, and Casey called into tournament control that he’d be in by 11:00.

The scale was still being set up as the call came in, but that didn’t phase the all-volunteer crew.  In a flash, they were ready to weigh the first Marlin of the tournament, and by 11:20 or so, Maui Jim came roaring into the harbor, scaled their fish at 259.5 pounds, then took off back out to sea within minutes in search of more bounty.

After the call of stop fishing was made at 4:00, the boats began to return to the harbor with their wares.  Several Mahimahi were weighed, and the average size was climbing into the thirty pound range.  A few Ono were caught, as well as some Spearfish, but the Ahi were all but missing from the flag fish tournament.  Nine Marlin were brought to the scales on day one, and by the end of the day, Maui Jim’s fish had been moved into second place, replaced by Kukana Kai’s 279.3 pound effort.

Day two saw more Mahimahi action, and more Billfish were landed as well.  Marlin production increased to 11 landed fish, and some drama unfolded in the process.  Tai Pan II came to the scales with a Marlin that looked like a new leader, and sure enough, their 307.3 pounds was good enough to carry them into first place before a cheering crowd.  Then at about 6:30, with Tai Pan II in first, Kukana Kai in second and Maui Jim in third, Maui’s Papa Joe came to the scales with angler Scott Texiera’s catch.  The crowd waited in anticipation to see how the fish would measure up, because it appeared to be very close in size to the leaders.  As it went up on the scale, the weight came in a 259.6 pounds, dropping Maui Jim’s fish to third by the slightest tenth of a pound margin.

Day three saw the most Marlin activity, with fifteen Blues coming home in search of the prize.  The crew of Tai Pan, sitting on the bubble for a full day of fishing, was nervous about the prospect of losing their position in the tournament.  They knew the fleet was out to get them, and they also knew that every single boat in the fleet had the capability to land a fish larger than theirs and claim the $25,000 prize.  After spending the day on the water in nervous anticipation, they patiently watched as the boats returned home on the last day. 

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This early morning strike on Day 2 aboard Offshore Hunter ultimately got free

Marlin had been called in all day with estimated weights, however, angler guesses are usually pretty sketchy at best and some fishermen have been known to underestimate intentionally for a variety of reasons.  As each boat presented their fare to the weighmaster, Tai Pan looked on.  Oahu’s Lady Kay with Gary Silva came the closet to claiming the title with their 265.7 pound Marlin, but nobody would unseat the Goodfellows on this day.  Tai Pan II topped the fleet with their 307.3 pound Pacific Blue Marlin and took home $25,000 in the process.  

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The crew of Tai Pan II with the winning Marlin
Photo by: Donell A. Tate (808)667-9005

Second place, good for $10,000.00, went to Kukana Kai for their 279.3 pound Marlin, while the $7,000.00 third prize went to the Lady Kay for a 265.7 pound Marlin.   Fourth was Papa Joe, whose 259.6 pounder earned $5,000.00, while fifth and $3,000.00 went to Maui Jim.  Sixth place and $1,500.00 went to last year’s winner, Pualele, who managed a 230.8 pound Marlin on the last day.

This year’s entry fee and number of entries were both down and little bit from previous years, so they only paid cash down to six places.  Other prizes were awarded for seventh and eighth places, plus the gross tonnage, largest Ahi, Mahimahi and Ono all received nice rods and reels for their efforts.

103 boats entered the Jackpot in 1999, fishing three days.  The majority of the boats (roughly 70 or so) spent most of their time at the section between Kalaupapa and Halawa on Molokai, out to about 15 miles or so.  Sixty-five boats brought fish to the scales at some point during the event, and an estimated 20 more boats caught fish that the skippers knew would not qualify for prizes.  Thus, a total of approximately 85 of the 103 boats caught fish, which certainly suggests the fishing on Maui is just as good as anywhere else in Hawaii. 

For a complete listing of the prizes, weights and payouts, see the standings by clicking here. 


Lahaina Jackpot - a Storied Past
Click on the above link for a story about the history of this tournament.

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The hard working volunteers who make the tournament possible


Tournament Entry Information

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