After a 7th inning stretch that lasted 4 weeks, the Hawaii Marlin Tournament (HMT) Series returns to the field this Thursday-Saturday (Aug 24-26) with the 31st Big Island Marlin Tournament. 170 teams have competed so far in the first 6 legs of The Series.
Two tournament remain and the races for Series Champion Angler and Top Boat and Crew is in an interesting state. Aussie Jay Edwards leads the pack after tagging and releasing 6 blues in the Lure Maker’s Challenge on board “Pursuit” with Capt. Jason Holtz. However, Edwards has returned home to Australia and will not fish during the remaining tournaments. Edwards earned 1,550 points in a single tournament.
On his heels with 1,213 points is local boy Capt. Randy Parker who fishes on “Bwana” with Capt. Teddy Hoogs. One would normally consider Parker to be a top contender for the Crown, however, Capt. Parker was filling in as angler during the Lure Maker’s Challenge when he weighed a 563 lb. marlin and added 200 points with a blue tagged and released. At the BIMT Parker will return to his duties as crew and Gary Carruthers comes in from California to handle the angling duties at the BIMT on “Bwana”.
In third is Texan Edgar Artecona who earned his points fishing from “Nasty Habit” with Capt. Oskie Rice and “Sapo” with Capt. Chris Choy. Artecona plans to return for the 8th and final event the “It’s A Wrap” tournament in September to bat cleanup, as he is unable to return to Kona this week.
Capt. McGrew Rice and veteran crew Carlton Arai led anglers Robert Rosado and David Anderson to a total of 931.5 points in the Skins Marlin Derby. Rosado is the most likely angler to move into the lead – if he returns to compete.
Robert Rosado landed the largest marlin of the 2017 HMT Series with a 731.5 pounder – and – Team Ihu Nui has landed the single largest purse this year at $194,100.00 at the Skins Marlin Derby.
Second largest purse was caught from possibly the smallest boat in The Series – the skiff “Krista-O” Capt. Mike O’Shiro and angler Darren Hayashi weighed a 533 pound blue in the Firecracker Open from the 18 foot “Krista-O” to pocket a cool $101,350.00.
Would Mike like to use that money for a bigger, more comfortable boat? Sure, but he’s too superstitious to challenge his luck now as “Krista-O” is always a contender, even against all the battlewagons fishing along the Kona Coast these days.
Other notable catches this summer are: A 473.5 pound blue by Kyle Pao with Capt. Mike Harlan on board “End Of The Line” and Rick Shedder with a 422.5 pound blue from “J.R.’s Hooker” with Capt. Scott Fuller at the wheel.
Largest ahi of The Series so far is a 223.5 pound Big Eye Tuna was caught on board “Silver Star” by Marcus Aldridge. Champ contender Edgar Artecona weighed a 204.5 pound yellowfin for second place ahi.
The Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series has a 400 pound minimum weight rule, which results in a tag and release rate of about 95% of all marlin caught, on an annual basis. The Series is very conservation minded and has a long track record of supporting marine and marlin science. This year Grammy and Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Taj Mahal returns to play the awards party of the 31st BIMT with the full Hula Blues Band, including Willie K and the performance is a fund raiser for conservation efforts.
Taj has offered a very limited (and now dwindling) number of tickets for sale as a benefit for Wild Oceans, the oldest fishing oriented conservation non-profit in the USA.
Tickets can only be purchased through a special page on the Wild Oceans website: wildoceans.org/Hawaii
The awards party is also part of the Taj Mahal 75th birthday celebration and happens August 27, with music starting at 8 p.m.
For more information on the Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series log on to: konatournaments.com/