Billfish jackpot in second year

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (06/24/00)
By Ray Pendleton

Honokohau Harbor, on the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawai`i, was the birthplace of a new concept in fishing tournaments for our state last year.

Mike Nelson, former executive director of the world-renown Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, teamed up with Wayne Bisbee, president of the World Billfish Series, to create a high-stakes jackpot contest that is also an additional venue in an international series of tournaments.

Participants in these tournaments, which are held around the world throughout the year, compete for six-figure purses and accumulate season points that may qualify them for an end-of-the-year World Billfish Series Grand Championship.

This WBS Grand Championship invites the top finishers in its U.S. division and its international division to a shootout to determine the best angler of the year.

A few of the other tournaments involved in this series are the Tahitian Inter-Island Billfish Tournament, the International La Guaira (Venezuela) Billfish Shootout, the U.S. Virgin Islands Open-Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament, and Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin Tournament in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Now, on the heels of last year's success, Nelson has announced the second annual World Billfish Challenge which is scheduled to start next month.

The first event of the WBC, on July 10 - 12, will be a light tackle tournament for all "flag fish" species, with tackle limited to 16- to 30-pound test.

As this contest is particularly suited to junior anglers, a portion of the entry fees are donated to the Junior Fish Association program.

Perhaps not so surprisingly, a junior angler was on last year's winning team and took home a Penn rod and reel for his contributions.

The main event of the WBC will be the heavy tackle tournament set for July 15 - 17. For three days, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., some of the world's best tournament anglers and boat skippers will join in an intensive hunt for Pacific blue or black marlin only.

Presently, the WBC has 26 teams, with entries from some 14 states in the U.S. and from Japan, Mexico and Tahiti. So far, there is one all-wahine team and six ladies fishing on various other teams.

WBC rules allow for fish to be either boated or, once brought to the boat, tagged and released for tournament points.

For that team with the right combination of skill, knowledge and luck will come WBS season points and a healthy share of an anticipated $200,000 jackpot.

In last year's contest, two of the anglers on the first-place team fishing for WBS points were Mike Vidal and Bob Brack. In fact, Brack had placed second in the 1998 Grand Championship.

Following the the heavy tackle tournament, on July 17 and 18, the WBC will again host a unique third competition called the All-Release Hawaii Billfish Shootout.

Co-hosted by the WBC and Floida's The Billfish Foundation, the rules for this two-day event, as its name implies, call for all marlin caught to be tagged and released.

Although winners in the All-Release Shootout will be dividing 80 percent of the collected entries, as the tournament is also a fund raiser for TBF - the world leader in billfish conservation - they will also receive a year's paid membership in the organization.

More information call 254-3474, or check the Internet at:

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