KAILUA-KONA — Veteran anglers from Laguna Niguel Billfish Club #2 – California (Team #5) knew they needed to post valuable points in Day 2 of the 54th Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament on Tuesday to break away from a crowded four-way tie for second place and capture the overall lead.
The talented California anglers then did just that.
Fishing aboard Strong Persuader, angler Chuck Salinger seized his opportunity.
“As soon as the marlin hit, I knew this tag and release would be an important one for our team,” Salinger said.
It took Salinger just three minutes to tag and release the estimated 150-pound Pacific blue marlin. But was it enough to propel this team into the lead as the second day of the HIBT came to a close.
Game Fishing Club of South Australia (Team #24) held a slim 15-point lead going in to Day 2 and knew the stakes were high. The team managed to tag a short nose spearfish in the final hour of the second day of fishing to hoist their two-day total to 715 points, dropping them to second place.
That 150-pound Pacific blue marlin tag netted Laguna Niguel Billfish Club #2 (Team 5) 300 points for a solid Day 2 lead with 900 cumulative points. Laguna Nigel is a club to be reckoned with — having won three previous HIBT championships (2008, 1986, 1985).
Singapore’s Le Anglers Club (Team #26) holds third place going into Day 3, just 15 points behind Game Fishing Club of South Australia with 700 points.
“You’ve got to use strategy to win this tournament, and a key factor is the HIBT’s tag-and-release rule,” Tournament Director Robbie Engelhard said. “Boat a fish under 300 pounds, no HIBT points. Tag a fish under 300 pounds and release it back into the ocean, and you earn valuable HIBT points.”
HIBT Tournament Founder Peter Fithian explained that experience plays a key role.
“Captains, crews and teams must be able to quickly estimate the weight of the fish, often during a heated battle reeling in the fish,” Fithian said. “This is where experience and knowledge come into play. Most Kona captains will tell you that estimating the weight of a fish is done very rapidly as the fish nears the back of a boat.”
Many gauge weight by what is called the short measure where the 300-pound threshold is likely if the length of the fish exceeds 99 inches. HIBT teams rely on the extensive knowledge of Kailua-Kona’s highly experienced fleet of captains and crews to help estimate weight.
Two women anglers have already posted points on the HIBT scoreboard. Bay of Island Swordfish Club (Team #1) angler Sue Woolston, fishing aboard Lightspeed, tagged an estimated 125-pound Pacific blue marlin in just nine minutes. Veteran angler Sally Kurz with Laguna Niguel Billfish Club #1 (Team #4), fishing aboard Rod Bender, boated an ahi.
“The pulse quickens as each day of this five-day tournament passes,” Fithian said. “Every HIBT angler, every captain and every crew member are calculating the points needed for a win. The best thing about Kona’s waters is that you can never be certain what is coming next.”
The prestigious five-day HIBT continues through Friday.
HIBT NOTES: The Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament is underwritten by the generosity of the County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development and the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The tournament is further supported in part by KWXX Radio and numerous corporate and community donors.
For more tournament information, including IGFA world-records, rules, and entry information, log onto www.hibtfishing.com.
Editor’s note: Daily HIBT results are reported by Laura Aquino of Current Events. Go to www.hawaiitribune-herald.com for the daily reports.