Honolulu Star Bulletin 06/07/03
By Ray Pendleton
Most anglers I know -- especially those with smaller boats -- like to wait until the last minute before entering fishing tournaments.
I believe it has to do with getting a better idea of what to expect from the weather and sea conditions (and maybe the bite) more than anything else.
So when the organizers of the Ho`ole`a Jackpot recently announced they were already looking for early entries for their Labor Day weekend fishing tournament, I thought, "Ho! Good luck to them."
But then I noticed they were offering a very interesting incentive: the chance for a free entry into this year's sixth annual Kona Classic on the Big Island.
They can make such an offer because, although the Ho`ole`a is hosted yearly by the Waikiki and Hawaii yachts clubs, it is also affiliated with the Maui Jim Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series, as is the Kona Classic.
Anglers fishing in these tournaments can accumulate points to qualify to fish in a final "made-for-TV," end of the year shootout tournament.
Still, there is a catch in the Ho`ole`a offer. To qualify for the drawing for the free Kona Classic entry, anglers must have their paid entry in to Ho`ole`a organizers by Friday, June 20.
It can be no later than this because this year's Kona Classic is coming up soon on June 28-29.
Those who have fished the Ho`ole`a already know it is one of O`ahu's finest tournaments. But for those who haven't, here is some background.
Over its 17-year history, the tournament's organizers have always made sure that all of the anglers' entry fees were returned to them in prize money.
If 60 teams entered for $375 a piece, the total purse was at least $22,500, and it has often been more due to sponsor contributions.
This 100 percent return has been accomplished through the generosity of the two host clubs and its tournament sponsors, and by having a volunteer staff.
The Ho`ole`a tournament rules also make it a fisherman-friendly contest.
Anglers who are interested in establishing International Game Fish Association records must fish by IGFA standards.
But for anglers who are more interested in boating fish rather than records, the rules are more lenient.
"We don't allow jungle rules," chairman Rick Abille said, "but we have no requirements for line class or leader restrictions."
And, most importantly, if last year is any indication, the fishing heats up on Labor Day weekend. More than half of the 54 teams entered last year caught fish, with a total weight of some 6,842 pounds.
At least seven ahi were weighed in at more than 170 pounds, with the winning yellow fin tipping the scales at 178.5.
The marlin catch was even more impressive. Four Pacific blues were brought in ranging in weight from the smallest, a respectable 586.5-pounder, to the largest, a 665.5-pound beast, which won first place and more than $6,500.
In all, the 2002 Ho`ole`a paid out more than $38,000 in daily jackpots and optional side entries.
So, although this year's Ho`ole`a tournament is still a dozen weeks away, entering now might be smart. After all, some lucky team is going to enter and receive a free entry into the Kona Classic, too.
For more information, call Rick Abille at 478-6638, or Al Bento at 944-9666.
HoloHolo Hawai`i Ocean Sports News