Fishing: Wahine Fishing Tournament puts lady anglers in the spotlight


Move aside, boys — it’s the ladies’ turn to cast out their lines and cross their fingers for the biggest bite at the 19th annual Huggo’s Wahine Marlin Fishing Tournament. Nearly 70 boats will head out of Honokohau Harbor on Saturday for the largest all-women billfish tournament in Hawaii.

Fishing begins at 8 a.m., and the boats return to the harbor at 4 p.m. for weigh-ins.

“We are hoping for really good weather, and with any luck, we will have some fish on the scale,” tournament director Sue Vermillion said.

The women anglers are competing for cash prizes that will be awarded to the teams with the biggest marlin/billfish weighing more than 300 pounds. Separate categories for most released marlin, ahi, ono and mahimahi will receive trophies for the largest catch.

The event that was created nearly two decades ago has become a summer tradition in Kailua-Kona.

“The Wahine tournament was started because there were simply no ladies marlin tournament in town, so we rallied together and started this tournament,” Vermillion said.

The competition for the biggest fish will be tight, but what adds a unique flair to the event are the best decorated boat and team costume contests, and the water fight that kicks off the day at sea.

“The water fight is always one of the highlights,” Vermillion said. “We use water cannons, buckets and water guns. It is very turtle-friendly.”

This year’s theme, “the Great Gatsby,” celebrates the Roaring Twenties.

The event serves as not only a fun and competitive time for the anglers but also a benefit for Family Support Hawaii, a Hawaii Island United Way agency. All proceeds go to the organization, with a focus on women’s charities.

“We always look forward to July when we host our annual Wahine Tournament,” said Eric von Platen Luder, Huggo’s owner. “For almost 20 years, this fun, charity-focused tournament has donated nearly $150,000 to Family Support Hawaii. We’re thankful that through the community’s support of the event, Family Support Hawaii can make a difference in people’s lives.”

 

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