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It’s a Wrap: EZ Pickens wins tournament

September 25, 2017 - 12:05am

Congratulations to angler/owners Brad and Vicki Pickings and Capt. Chuck Wigzell on the EZ Pickens for winning the “It’s a Wrap” tournament by tagging and releasing four blue marlin, finishing the contest with 800 points.

Kona’s last major blue marlin tournament of the year was a prime example of why Kona is one of the world’s finest blue marlin fishing destinations. Thirteen boats entered the competition, and excellent fishing prevailed for the majority of the three-day event.

On the first day, angler Edgar Artecona fishing on the Sapo with Capt. Chris Choy got off to a great start by catching a beautiful 620-pound blue marlin and a 133.5-pound ahi for 653.5 points. Right behind Artecona was angler Rick Shedore, fishing on the Bwana with Capt. Teddy Hoogs. Shedore tagged and released three blue marlin for a total of 600 points. The boats Silver Star, EZ Pickens, and Ku’uipo each tagged one blue marlin for 200 points each.

Great fishing characterized day two with another big marlin landed and with multiple blue marlin being tagged and released. Angler David Tubbs, fishing on the Anxious with Capt. Neal Isaacs, gave Aretcona a run for his money when he landed a 610.5-pound blue marlin. Meanwhile, Evan Montgomery fishing on Bomboy’s Toy with Capt. Bomboy Llanes racked up 600 points by tagging and releasing three blue marlin. Sundowner, EZ Pickens, Rod Bender, Ku’uipo and Marlin Magic II also tagged and released marlin and were in the running.

Fishing slowed down on the third and final day of the tournament, but not for the EZ Pickens and anglers Vicki and Brad Pickings. The two tagged and released two blue marlin, tallying a total of 800 points. The 800 points bettered the Sapo’s 653.5 points to put them in first place for overall points in the tournament. Ku’uipo was the only other boat to score points on the final day by tagging and releasing one blue marlin.

More on the Hawaiin Billfish Series overall results next week as the “It’s A Wrap” tournament ended just before press time. To see the two big 600-pound plus marlin caught in the tournament go to our Facebook page “Kona Fish Report.”

The Kona Crew Classic

The Kona Crew Classic is a highly competitive tournament that takes place in Honokohau Harbor. Many of the world’s finest captains, crewmembers and anglers compete against one another to see who can catch the most blue marlin from June 15 and Sept. 15.

The three-month competition is unique for the competitors because any time spent fishing during that time frame is a tournament fishing day, and tournament fishing is serious business in West Hawaii.

The Kona Crew Classic is also appealing to enter because you can be the captain, crew or angler on any, or multiple boats, throughout the summer.

The rules are simple; you earn one point for every marlin caught. Touching the leader is considered a caught fish, even if you release it. If you boat a blue marlin, you receive two points if it weighs over 500-pounds and ten points for a monster “grander” blue marlin — one that weighs over a thousand pounds.

Besides the most points category, there is a big fish side pot division, too. Both the most points and big fish side pot are 100 percent payouts.

“This tournament was started in 2013 as a bet between friends who loved to catch marlin and were very competitive about it,” tournament director Capt. Molly Palmer said. “It has now grown into a harbor wide event that gets international attention and spin-off versions in harbors around the country. It changes the way we approach marlin fishing, and everyone has a shot at a victory. In the summer in Kona, every day is a tournament.”

This year’s competition came down to a classic two boat shootout ending at sundown on the last day of the event.

At sunrise on Sept. 15, Capt. Joe Schumaker, on the FireHatt, held the lead for both most points and biggest fish categories. Schumaker was in a position to be the “winner take all” with 27 points and an 820-pound blue marlin he caught earlier in the season. His closest competition was Capt. Marlin Parker on the Marlin Magic II, two points behind with 25 .

At dawn on the 15th, Parker was determined to beat Schumaker before the sun went down, and Schumaker was equally determined not to let him. Both captains caught and tagged a blue marlin early in the day, but later on, Parker tagged a second, leaving him one point behind. A classic showdown between two great captains was in the making.

As the sun worked its way over to the western sky, the two headstrong captains trolled alongside one another, outrigger to outrigger, trash talk texting the entire time. Parker hooked up and tagged and released a nice blue marlin shortly before sunset. Tying Schumaker for most points.

The captains returned to the harbor at sundown, Parker with three marlin flags flying and Schumaker with one. Each had 28 points and both felt like they won and lost. The cash prize for most points was split between them 50-50, and Schumaker took the side pot cash prize for biggest fish of the tournament.

Overall, forty-three people participated in this year’s tournament. Thirty-eight participants opted for the side pot, and 473 points were reported. Seven marlin were weighed for two points each.

A big thanks to Capt. Molly Palmer, her scorekeepers Shawn Palmer and Shawna Hayes, and advisor Fran Obrien for doing such an excellent job creating and developing this tournament over the years.

“This tournament is so great because it is for the crews, by the crew,” Capt. Molly Palmer said. “But this year really was special thanks to all our amazing sponsors. We appreciate the strong show of support from all the talented lure makers, generous clothing companies, and loving local businesses. With over eighteen companies to thank, I can’t list them all here, but please check out the list on our Instagram (@konacrewclassic).”

Captains, crews, shore fishermen, please like, follow or post your pictures on our Facebook page “Kona Fish Report,” and if you think you have an interesting offshore, bottom or shore fishing story, please email or

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