The Bright Side: Together In Different Boats

If the present state of affairs with the Omicron strain of COVID-19 has you a bit off balance, take some solace in knowing that you are not alone. Far from it, in fact. We are all in the same boat. Well, actually there appear to be two boats. Maybe more.

Some folks have had horrific experiences with this virus, and those of us who have been merely inconvenienced are not in the same boat with them. Nor are we in the same boat with the hospital workers and other front liners who have been dealing with the worst of this firsthand, for so long.


Only about one in12 people in Hawaii County have been infected, but everyone is still affected. While things seem weird and feel off balance, businesses have to be saved, jobs kept, families fed. What can you do but hope Omicron passes quickly as it did in South Africa, and get on with life? You try to stay safe, take things day to day and remember to laugh. Most of us are in this boat. We’re just getting bounced around whereas the others have been getting pummeled.

While the Omicron spike is crazy, unlike 2020, now you can go anywhere and pretty much do what ever you want. But when you get there, things can sure seem weird. For instance, driving in to town to go to the grocery store and finding it closed on an otherwise “normal” afternoon seems weird. It makes you feel like you should look around the parking lot for zombies or something.

On the topic of saving businesses, as a small non-profit, the Hawaii Big Game Fishing Club is lucky to be in the bouncy boat because it is still here and still open. However, keeping a club going during lock down or under gathering limits has been a bit weird. The Ccub has been in existence since 1914 and it has made it through every calamity from the Spanish Flu pandemic to the missile crisis caused by Braddah asleep on the job, slumped over the “Don’t Push This Button” button on his computer. So, it has survived pretty much everything except a zombie apocalypse.

Fishing out at sea, with a small group of people you know well, is just about as safe an activity as there can be in times of pandemic. With this in mind, the HBGFC Board created a series of simple, one day per month “Shootout” fishing tournaments to keep club activities going when gathering was nixed. Teams could enter online, by mail or even by passing an entry from boat to dock with a long handled crab net.

The next Shootout Tourney is this Saturday, Jan. 22. Outdoor gathering limits set by the county are currently up to 100 people, so teams can now enter by coming down to the Club House on Friday, Jan. 21 at 5 p.m. For those still not comfortable with gathering, enter online at or the old fashioned way, by mail

The events are open to everyone, not just members. Entry fee is only $225.00 per team and the club returns 200 bucks back to the purse, keeping only $25 for the Club House maintenance fund.

The club has already hosted two monthly Shootout tourneys with in person entry functions. Even though most folks trickled in and trickled out, fishermen like to wala’au and the general ambiance and sense of balance was restored.

For those who questioned joining a club when fun gatherings were not allowed, it makes sense to join the club again now. There is much fun stuff in the works for 2022, depending, of course, upon which way COVID bounces the boat.

As long as gatherings remain 100 or less, the Annual Members Meeting will be held Saturday, Feb. 26. The February Shootout Tourney will follow on Sunday the 27. The club hopes to make this a fun, weekend long event for the entire family, provided Omicron cooperates,

Other groups are making similar plans at the club. The Hospice of Kona Foundation is planning the return of their annual fishing tournament fundraiser on March 19.

Umeke’s restaurant usually holds a fishing tournament to raise funds for HUGS of Hawaii. HUGS supports families with kids that have been diagnosed with a life threatening disease.

Tournament Director Steve Marks said that they are eyeing Omicron right now – like everybody else – and are ready start planning if/when things get better. They run their event in the first week of June, so they have time. Steve said anyone interested can call him at (808)987-2742 to talk story.

John Lim and his helpers run another great kids tournament and fundraiser called Keiki Come First – and they are in the bouncy boat too – hoping to return, but scanning the horizon.

The Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series ran a full schedule of events in 2020 with no functions at the Club House at all. The Series returned in 2021 and experimented with special permitted entry gatherings that were scaled down, proving that this system works at the Club house. The HMT Series plans to return in 2022 with its regular, full schedule.

All interested fishers can check for news of developments by visiting the websites of the various organizations:,,,

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