Good Feelings Were the Catch of the Day

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (6/20/98)
By Ray Pendleton

Have you been feeling a little down lately? It certainly wouldn't be surprising, given Hawaii's continuing economic doldrums.

But, no matter the cause of your depression, you should have been with me last Sunday. The experience was more uplifting than psychiatry or religion might provide.

Believe it or not, along with people like Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle, Councilwoman Rene Mansho, and state Representatives Quentin Kawananakoa and Galen Fox, I spent the day watching a fishing tournament.

Of course, it wasn't just any fishing tournament. It was Hawaii Yacht Club's ninth annual Goodwill Tournament and the anglers were 57 developmentally handicapped clients of Goodwill Industries.

Watching the joy and excitement radiating from so many faces as they progressively went from early morning anticipation of the day's activities, to actual hands-on, bait-your-hooks fishing, and then to telling and retelling fish stories that afternoon, was therapeutic beyond words.

"This is great!" one grinning angler told me at 8:30 a.m., between bites on a donut. During lunch five hours later, his grin was still in place.

As with most contests these days, when the anglers signed in, they were each given a T-shirt commemorating the event, but it seemed to me the image on the back was rather overly optimistic. It was the picture of a 100-pound, fighting ulua (trevally), and these folks, after all, were just going after reef fish.

On the other hand, they also had hats donated by Hawaii Fishing News which had ulua on them, so maybe they knew something I didn't.

By 9 a.m. the anglers were aboard the 22 boats volunteer skippers provided and they were soon chumming the waters offshore of Magic Island and the Hilton Hawaiian Village with the universal fish bait - bread.

Within minutes, excited cries were heard across the water, as various small, colorful fish were being reeled in and dropped into water buckets to keep them alive.

At 11 a.m. the fishing was over, but perhaps the most entertaining part of the tournament was at hand - the weigh-in of scores of wiggling, slippery fish.

As the proud anglers stood by for the tally, dedicated volunteers attempted to measure and weigh the uncooperative catches and somehow avoid injury from sharp teeth and spines.

Early on, with small moana the prevalent catch, a skinny, yard-long cornet fish appeared to be the biggest fish of the tournament. But that was until Lee Seavers' Sea Verse III pulled up to the dock.

Off came Gail Mitamura who had hooked up with the largest fish ever to be caught in the tournament's history. To everyone's surprise, and fulfilling the promise of the fish pictured on the back of her shirt, she had somehow managed to boat a 41 1/2-inch, 30-pound ulua.

Gail's ulua was certainly the catch of the day, but as in every Goodwill Tournament, she and every other contestant received a prize or a trophy of some kind. And, those of us who had the pleasure of being spectators received perhaps the best reward of all - seeing people enjoying utter and complete happiness.

Tournament chairperson Barbara Silvey, her dozens of wonderful volunteers, and sponsors such as Sea-Land Service Hawaii must be congratulated for a job well done. And even though it's a year away, I'm sure everyone involved is looking forward to the 10th annual Goodwill Fishing Tournament.

Last week's Column -|- More Water Ways

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