“This is one of the best years (for ahi) since 1969,” said Ed Horner, who captained the Wild Thang Saturday at the Port Allen Fishing Club Derby.
Wild Thang came in with nine ahi. Wahine Kepaloa came in with 12. By day’s end, the count was up to 61.
Port Allen Fishing Club board member Steven Niau characterized the derby as a “family affair.”
Niau said 31 boats registered to participate in the derby. They were allowed to fish in an unlimited area, so long as they all pulled out from the small boat harbor and returned there.
The annual event, which turns 10 next year, draws a crowd of spectators who watch the boats unload their catches, Niau said.
The big winner of the day was Max Out. Its 226-pound ahi was caught on a triple strike (a strike on each of three poles at the same time) by Bernie and Evan Agor and Ivan Ruiz. These weekend “pleasure fishermen” credited their success to living a good life and “bringing the smallest boat,” a 22-footer.
At first, Bernie Agor said catching the biggest ahi would bring him prestige, but in the end he decided that it was more fun than anything else. Carrying out the family theme, Agor said they planned to cut up the ahi and give it to relatives and neighbors.
The group of fishermen included residents from Princeville to Kekaha.
At 7 years old, Austin Galas was out on the Keiki Kai with dad Darren from the derby’s early start at 6 a.m. until its end at 4 p.m.
“I like bringing up the fish,” Austin said. His ono weighed in at 18.2 pounds.
Stephanie Huddy helped Austin weigh the fish. Huddy, who will be a junior in high school, has been involved with the derby for about seven years. Her mother, Tisha, was taking photos of the fishermen with their catch. Her father, Alika, took a boat out. Brother AJ and sister Tiffany helped run errands between the weigh-in tent and the scoreboard tent.
Harold Vidinha, the fishing club’s president, said the number of participating boats dropped compared to past years, which usually turn out between 36 and 46 entries.
A lu‘au following the derby celebrated the day of fishing and James Jung of the Coast Guard Auxiliary made a presentation promoting recreational safety.
Local merchants donated prizes, which went to the top three catches of aku, mahimahi, ono, ahi and marlin. A surprise award for the smallest fish was given to Captain Steven Tavares of the Isabelle II for his crew’s 3-pound aku.
The Port Allen Fishing Club provides community service and a place for the community to socialize. The club site is located at the entrance of the small boat harbor. Each quarter, members clean up the harbor, and each year they host the derby and a keiki fishing tournament.