Maui Sporting Goods put on a jigging tournament to raise money for Hawaii Children's Cancer Foundation. This is a jigging only fishing tournament and what a great cause to support! There were several divisions depending on your vessel type. Boat, Jetski, Kayak, and Shoreline divisions. We went in to ask if we could be part of the tournament and jump in with the Kayak division and they granted us permission. Stoked!! We figured we would already be handicapped because a kayak can carry all sorts of gear, hold more space for fish and also some kayakers use depth recorders as well, but we figured we had one advantage over the kayaks...speed to get places.
I told a couple of our Kaiwa'a team riders who fish, Kainoa Tanoai and Bobby Pratt, about the tournament and told them I'd sign them up and pay their entry if they wanted to come. No arm twisting involved, they were stoked to jump in. In the meantime us Maui guys went out to do some scouting of areas we thought could be desirable fishing grounds. We took different wind patterns into thought as well with the different areas we fish because if there's wind it's no good to jig on the OC-1. You need it to be pretty calm otherwise you'll drift too fast and your line will never reach the bottom. As the time came near to tournament day, Isaac Bancaco, Kekoa Cramer, Dane Dudoit, Kieth Keahi, and myself kept watching daily wind reports to see where the optimal area on Maui would be for us. To our luck and the rest of the participants the wind on tournament day vanished.
On Saturday, I picked up Kainoa Tanoai and Jeremy Wilkins from Kailua-Kona and Bobby Pratt from O'ahu from the airport and headed home to get set up for the next days adventures. From there, we all met up in the early morning to head to our location. There was 8 of us fishing on our OC-1's and we all went together as a pack. From our launch we somewhat split up and always kept each other in view of one another or if not in view a couple of us would stick together. Safety is always a concern out there, it's kind of a far swim in some cases if something bad were to happen.
Our morning started off pretty slow, a couple small fish were coming up but nothing too exciting. we all started to work different areas to try to find some sort of reaction. As I was reeling in my line, Bobby Pratt came in towards me from the outside with a Kawakawa already on his canoe. Prior to seeing Bobby I was thinking of running more out to check an area I had been watching, seeing that he just hooked up outside, that persuaded me to follow my thoughts. I saw the water texture and thought there maybe structure down below the area so I made my way out to the zone and on my first drop picked up a small Kawakawa. From there I paddled a little further out where some birds were working thinking if at worse I'd get another Kawakawa, but to my surprise
on my next drop I hook up to a nice healthy Uku (gray snapper). I situated the fish and got back to my pole for another drop. Bang! again another big fight and it feels like a bigger Uku and then the sharp scream of the drag and yank of the line.. Shark..., bummer was my thoughts, but then it let go and I still had some life in what ever was on the other end of my line. As I brought the fish up I could tell a part of it had been taken, the fight was missing it's kick like the back end was gone. Sure enough, I bring up 2/3's of a good size Uku. I was bummed at the missed opportunity but still stoked to have bunch of meat left on the fish to eat. I chalk it up, slap the water with my paddle to chase the shark away from my canoe and got back to fishing. At the scale the rest of the fish still weighed 11.2 lbs.
By 12 noon we all met up back at the trucks to load the fish, pack the canoes up, and have some refreshments. All we had to do now was wait for the last two of our guys to come in, Bobby and Isaac. Bobby and Isaac had decided to make one final drop before coming in and they both hooked up to nice Ulua. We gave them some joking grief when they finally arrived;). That move put them into possible medal round. Other fishes to note were two Uku, one Kainoa pulled in and the other was the first one I pulled in. Everyone got some good fish which will make some great meals and Kekoa Cramer even gave some away to a couple locals that were there when we were putting our equipment away.
Another note to share about the day was
Kekoa's hook up. Kekoa was hooked up to something that could have possibly been the tournament winner. No joke, he was fighting this fish for 35 minutes before it pulled the hook. We have photos and Kainoa took some video of the fight. Impressive ,but I know for him it was probably a hard one to shake off right away. No one enjoys being in that position especially with some money and expensive prizes being on the line.
We finally make it back to the weigh in after dropping Jeremy at the airport and picking up trucks and other luggage at the house. It was impressive to see the other fish that were brought in form all around the island. In our division Bobby Pratt grabbed 1st place with his 30lbs Ulua, Isaac Bancaco took 2nd with his 23 lbs Ulua and a Kayak fisherman took 3rd with a 13lbs Uku. In the end a pretty epic day. I think we shocked some people with our load of fish and being that we caught it all off the OC-1. The overall tournament winner was a 60lbs Ulua caught off a boat by Matt Higa
Like I said in my previous blog on OC-1 fishing, we have a great crew of guys here on Maui, thank you boys for the experiences and adventures. It was also a pleasure to host some of our outer island friends for the tournament and share similar passions, thank you Kainoa Tanoai, Jeremy Wilkins, and Bobby Pratt for making the journey with us. Also a special thanks to Brian, Cody, and the rest of the gang at Maui Sporting Goods for always supporting Hawaii's children who have to battle one of our worse enemies in life. Thank you.
Now I'm off to eat some great food with family and friends, Good night!