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Firecracker Open: Blue marlin light up scoreboard

(Photo courtesy Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series)


Mike Sipula tagged a blue marlin and Paul Dolinoy boated a 641-lb blue marlin for a total of 841 points to win the Firecracker Open Big Game Tournament.

Mike hooked a third marlin estimated to be larger than the 641 just prior the call of “stop fishing” and planned to tag and release the larger fish because they did not want to kill the fish unnecessarily.

Paul had stayed on shore after the 641 was weighed, so he and tournament producer Jody Bright were able to determine that if Sea Genie let the third (larger) fish free, they would still win the tournament.

If they had done so, they would still have won, but the marlin pulled free and swam off at the boat anyway.

This would have been an unprecedented move in the history of Hawaii tournament fishing, and Capt Vanderhoek, crew Chris Choy and Sipula and Dolinoy should enjoy all the applause they get for being willing to let an even larger marlin than the first – go free – rather than kill it and hang it up, just for photos.

For further information, contact Vanderhoek at 936-4234.

Second largest marlin was a 512 pounder by Bubba Brown of Texas. which along with a tag gave them second place with 714 points.

The total catch for the $265,780.00 Firecracker Open was 43 blue marlin and two yellowfin tuna (ahi).

The tournament drew 53 teams to Kona waters in the second event of the Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series and they were met by a battery of action from pacific blue marlin and ahi.

As of the call of “stop fishing” at 4 p.m. Saturday, a total of 28 marlin were tagged and released and one ahi was boated, all in contention for the total purse of more than $265,000.

Leading the pack is Jack Sanford, who comes to Kona each year from his work in the oil fields of the Middle East. Sanford has three tags and 600 points fishing from Capt. Jason Holtz’s “Marlin Magic I.”

Hot on his heels was local boy Mike Benaquista with two marlin tagged and an ahi at 144 pounds for a total of 444 points.

Five teams have two marlin tags apiece for 400 points and 12 boats have one tag apiece.

— Find out more:
Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series:

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