Categorized | Featured, Fishing, Sports

HIBT 2011: Final bits ‘n’ pieces

Marlin Jefferson (right) and his teammates dry their tears on the Crying Towel. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

It’s one of the awards anglers don’t want to even be nominated for, but Marlin Jefferson and his Hilton Grand Vacation Fishing Club – Ohana teammates walked away with this year’s Crying Towel.

At the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament awards dinner, one of the highlights is hearing about the one that got away. And there are always some heartbreaking stories.

However, this year Jefferson needed a poem / rap to top a slate of super sob stories. The HIBT rookie angler reportedly was banned from joining his teammates for a post-fishing beer until he had written his ode.

Awards dinner MC (and tournament chief judge) Albert Threadingham called upon anglers to share their stories of tough luck and asked their fellow fishers to vote with their voices.

Jefferson was the clear winner with a huge chorus of cheers that probably carried out to Zone Oscar. Even the Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans could sympathize with his plight.

Here is Jefferson’s poem / rap account:

Day 5 has arrived
The Sea Baby III would be the boat
to take us trolling that day
for about an hour or so we could hear
that reel start spinning away
a big blue was hooked
Capt. Hayashi battled it and won
hip hip hooray
we got along side the boat
gaffed it and pulled with some rope
attempting to land it
by pulling it in from the aft bay
suddenly a white tip share had different plans
‘dinner’ was its mind
estimated at 450 plus
it gored our catch from behind
that doggone shark came back for seconds
and before we could get the marlin on board
it gored our fish for a second time
with a mutilation caused by that
shark a disqualification ensued
but we lucked out a little
tagged and released another marlin
to lighten up the mood
well, now the tournament is over
our place in the standings I don’t
even want to know
I’d rather cry to ease this pain
but I need a towel to stop the flow

“This is my very first time in Hawaii, my first HIBT and I win the Crying Towel,” Jefferson said. “I figured I might have some rookie luck, especially with my name actually being Marlin. But maybe they canceled each other out. I’ll be back next year though. I had a great time.”

Mickey's last photo op. ( Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Da Mickey Rat retiring

Anglers are a superstitious lot. Some might wear the same socks, pack the same lunch or carry lucky lure in their pockets.

Not Old South Marlin Club. They have a secret weapon: Da Mickey Rat. Quite possibly the most vicious and toothy land-lubber ever to grace HIBT.

Mickey is quite short in statute, but he makes up for that in rat-titude.

The North Carolina team’s mascot is a black plastic rat that is missing one hand entirely (replaced by an equally vicious hook) and a couple fingers on the other hand. He sports a spiffy array of earrings, necklaces, a bandana and a mouth full of yellowing teeth.

It’s hard to tell if he’s hissing, smiling or passing gas.

Either way, this year was Mickey’s last appearance in Kona. He is retiring to a life a smelly cheese treats and lazy days on the Atlantic Ocean.

Team member Kent Neal is Mickey’s unofficial chaperone and said Mickey will be replaced at the end of this year.

Mickey is the fourth club mascot and has simply outlived his wharf rat warrior days.

Neal said the club has been experimenting with Mickey’s predecessor, Bubba, and expects to have a new mascot sworn in by the ‘Start fishing’ call next year.

“Yeah, he’s about done now. He’s served us well and can look forward to enjoying his retirement,” Neal said. “Meanwhile, we have been cross-breeding Bubba with a wolverine. We have no idea what we’ll get, but we’re pretty sure it’ll be a good one.”

We’ll certainly be waiting with (cheese) baited breath …

(Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

China tests the waters

Although this tournament truly is international, this year marked the first time a team from China traveled to Kona.

“There are no major billfish tournaments in China, but we have lots of other fishing,” said John Cheng, a University of Hawaii at Hilo philosophy professor who served as a volunteer translator.

The rookies put points on the scoreboard each of the first three days, landing in second place by Wednesday.

“It has been a very good first year. We were surprised and very pleased to be in second place,” Cheng said. “We had many more people who wanted to come and next year we will bring more teams and maybe some cheerleaders, too.”

The entourage of Chinese visitors numbered eight included three anglers and several government officials.

“They will make a report to the people of China,” Cheng said. “It will be very important that they tell of the beautiful scenery and wonderful people, as well as the fishing. They will take Hawaii home and share it.”

Mayor Billy Kenoi stopped by Thursday afternoon as the anglers returned to Kailua Pier and said he was pleased to see the China team was having a good week.

“This is very exciting. We’re always happy to spread the aloha of the Big Island and I’m really glad they are here having a good time,” he said. “We’re very proud of our island and of the aloha we have and I know they will take that home with them. This tournament is all about celebrating big game fishing and showing what the Big Island has to share with the world.”

Kenoi also said he appreciates the effort it takes to host the tournament.

“All the volunteers, who give from their heart freely. That’s the true spirit of aloha.” Kenoi said. “I have great respect for Peter Fithian’s vision, leadership and sustained commitment. His is the true spirit of aloha.”

(Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Hawaii teams

Among those listing themselves as hometown teams: Kona Game Fishing Club – Taiyo, Alii Brothers Marlin Hui and Lawaia Mau Loa.

The Lawaia Mau Loa team included anglers from Hawaii and Guam, but consisted mostly of council members and staff members from the Western Pacific Regional Management Council.

Executive director Kitty Simonds said the council won its entry into the race through the Great Marlin Race – a tag and release research initiative – and paid some of the other tournament fees. Individual anglers, however, paid their own incidental costs and expenses.

“We should be supporting this event. It’s important to be here,” Simonds said. “We brought almost the whole office with us and we are conducting business as usual.”

Simonds said she led a staff meeting during the week and sent five staffers home to Honolulu on Thursday.

David Itano, a pelagic fisheries researcher, racked up some points when he tapped a 260-lb marlin Thursday.

“He’s a seasoned fisherman,” Simonds said, “and we are lucky to have him on the team.”

Simonds said she was in charge of assigning would go out and fish each day – from council members to staff – and was eager to see what they would learn.

“Just by participating, we are able to gain knowledge from the actual event,” Simonds said. “It’s a good thing for us.”

Also, during the week, Simonds said she conducted staff meetings and was in contact with the Honolulu office.

“This is quite a valuable experience for our younger members,” Simonds said. “We can talk to the captains and the crews about their tagging programs and help make improvements. There might be different rules or methods or ways of researching that we can help them with.”

Simonds said she hopes the hands-on HIBT experience will allow the council to work more closely with commercial and recreational fisherman across Hawaii to better manage and protect ocean resources.

HIBT 2011 complete program

Here’s the HIBT 2011 program. It includes team rosters and the boat directory.

HIBT 2011 Program

(Hawaii 124/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Magic Marlin

Marlin Parker, skipper of the 54-foot Marlin Magic II, again scooped the Henry Chee Award, which recognizes the charter boat captain with the highest number of billfish points scored on his boat during the week. It marks Parker’s third Henry Chee Award.

Boone Award

1. Lightspeed
2. (tie) Marlin Magic II and JR’s Hooker
3. Monkey Biz II

If ya really wanna cry into your towel:

Word is the biggest fish caught Saturday, July 30 during the Huggo’s Wahine Tournament weighed 733 lbs. and the girls tagged 19 fish … in one day.

Save the date, boys: 53rd annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament is Aug. 13-17, 2012.

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