Well, it looks like we escaped. We’re out of 2020.
Tell them don’t pay the ransom.
Now what? With a little luck, hopefully, we can take what we learned and get back to living as “normally”’ as possible, that’s what. Hopefully anyway.
That’s what the Hawaii Big Game Fishing Club is hoping to do. Founded in 1914, The Club lived through the pandemic of 1918, so the thought has been to live through another. In fact, the first “normal” thing The Club plans is to start offering one day fishing tournaments, once each month, starting Jan. 16, 2021. Dubbed “The Club House Shootout” the tourneys will be raising money for the maintenance fund because like all houses, you have to keep them fixed up.
The Club is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and as with all operations, just getting through last year in working order was a challenge. The “second quarter” was an all hands on deck affair, the “third quarter” grappled with the question of “how long will this last?” and with the “fourth quarter” came a plan to survive the New World Order. Again, hope is in order.
As it turned out, fishing out on the ocean is one of the most COVID-free endeavors one can engage in, as long as one knows who they are out on a boat with. Nowhere more than on the high seas is there more open airspace between strangers, fewer surfaces for a virus to cling to and the added bonus that fish are entirely COVID free.
Big Islanders were hip to these facts last year and local people continued to fish throughout the pandemic, as per normal. Charter boat operators suffered economically from lack of business but crews maintained spirituality by going holoholo as often as possible. Many tournaments ran a scaled back season but many also decided to just wait it out.
Those continuing to run adapted by creating online and remote entry systems, as well as digital delivery of tournament documents. The HBGFC “Club House Shootout” will operate in similar fashion. An online entry system is in the works for The Club website and phone in entries will be taken. These systems have proven to greatly reduce the number of in person interactions that were normal for fishing tournaments in years past.
Fishing tournaments have long been popular as much for the social functions as the fishing and sadly, the parties have been curtailed to the point of elimination. How did the fishermen respond to that? They shrugged it off and went fishing.
With some of the visitor industry back up and running, The Club is looking for good times ahead and a return to some sort of “new normalcy” with the monthly “Club House Shootout” tournaments. The entry fee will be $225.00 per boat with $25 bucks going to the Maintenance Fund. Half of the remainder will go to the team with the heaviest single marlin and the other half will go to the heaviest single fish from any of these species — ahi, mahimahi and ono.
Remember, you can’t win if you don’t enter, so mark your calendars for January 16 and in a few days, visit The Club website for more information.
The Club House Shootout could see some good catching. On Dec. 30 angler Craig Lindner caught two marlin, with one tipping the scales at 756 pounds. Lindner had his kids out with them and ach of his daughters caught a blue marlin, for a total of four on the day.
Capt. Teddy Hoogs reported, “We had a triple marlin bite going but one came off. We caught two of them and were putting the lures back out when the big one bit. The big one may have been the third bite, the one that came off. I don’t know.”
Capt. Teddy knows a bit more than he lets on though, he led Craig and their team on “Bwana” to the Championship of the 2019 Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series, outscoring their nearest competitors on “Last Chance.” Catching four marlin in one day is a great achievement in anyones book, but not unexpected considering the qualifications of the crew.
On December 26 “Marlin Magic II” caught a nice ahi and two blue marlin, and on December 25 “SNAFU” went 1 for 3 on blues so multiple fish days have been going around. The full moon was out on December 30 when “Bwana” had its great day, but action tapered a bit after that.
The Kona Charter Desk at Honokohau Harbor held it’s annual New Years Day tournament, and the big ones were not very cooperative, but fish were caught and fun was had. Fishermen are competitive by nature and most all of them want to start off a New Year with a win — any kind of a win.
This New Years Day tourney was won by Chad Beaudry, fishing on his boat “Last Chance.” Chad’s 142 pound ahi bested a 134.5 pound blue marlin caught from “Ambush” and one that tipped the scales at 131 pounds by “Teresa.”
Chad and his team of Capt. Tracy Epstein and Mikey Sunada were a super competitive Second Place Boat and Angler in the 2020 Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series. They also finished off last year as the Billfish Foundation Top Captain and Top Angler for blue marlin and spearfish.
It’s not often that a tournament open to marlin and ahi is won by an ahi, but a win is a win and always a great way to start a New Year. And, if you beat out marlin with an ahi, it shows that there is hope in all that you do.