Wahine get ready for an­nual fish­ing tour­na­ment

West Hawaii Today - - Front Page - BY RICK WIN­TERS rwin­ters@west­hawai­ito­

KAILUA-KONA — The traf­fic on Alii Drive in­cluded a pi­rate ship on Fri­day night — a sig­nal that it was no nor­mal even­ing on the Kona coast.

The ship — along with a rowdy cast of chip­munks, princesses and friendly fish — came to­gether at Huggo’s on the Rocks to kick-off of the 22nd an­nual Wahine Fish­ing Tour­na­ment.

The sto­ried event — which is touted as the world’s largest ladies bill­fish tour­na­ment — be­gins to­day with a boat check-in time at 7 a.m. Fish­ing starts at 8 a.m. and will go to 4 p.m., with fish weigh-ins tak­ing place at Honoko­hau Har­bor.

But the fish­ing was on hold Fri­day night, where in­stead the open­ing event was all about hav­ing fun and min­gling with other well­dressed an­glers.

The theme for this year’s event was Dis­ney, and it was an ob­vi­ous hit by tak­ing a quick glance around. The lively fish­er­women and crews dressed up as well­known char­ac­ters such as Mickey and Min­nie Mouse, pulled off full-movie get-ups set to movies like Find­ing

Nemo and Alice in Won­der­land, as well as var­i­ous princesses and vil­lains from the enor­mous Dis­ney uni­verse.

As for the ship sail­ing down Alii Drive, that was Team In­tegrity, led by cap­tain Denise McGuckin, in their cus­tom built Pi­rates of the Caribbean float. It quickly drew the at­ten­tion of those pass­ing by.

“Com­ing down the road, every­one was cheer­ing us on,” McGuckin said. “It was won­der­ful. We had our very own pa­rade.”

“The Dis­ney them is in­cred­i­ble and every­one was look­ing at us,” added McGuckin’s team­mate Re­nee Medeiros. “Every­one watch­ing knew it was wahine time again.”

The event is a nearly an­nual tra­di­tion for team In­tegrity, which is made up of friends and fam­ily mem­bers that live on the Big Is­land, as well as some who come in from the main­land. McGuckin has been com­pet­ing in the tour­na­ment since the be­gin­ning. Medeiros has com­peted ev­ery year since 2007.

“For years and years, this tour­na­ment has brought us to­gether, not just for the day, but for the week,” McGuckin said. “This means a great deal and it gives the wives, the girl­friends, the ladies the chance to go out and fish. The men do­nate their time, their boat, and give will­ingly. We give them lunch. It doesn’t get any bet­ter than that.”

There are many teams in the tour­na­ment like In­tegrity, who have been com­pet­ing for years. But there are also the new­com­ers, who are get­ting a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence for the first time what the Wahine Fish­ing Tour­na­ment is all about.

The Humpy’s Aqua­holics is a team com­prised of a lot of mem­bers who have never ex­pe­ri­enced the thrill of tour­na­ment fish­ing on the Big Is­land.

“This is the first time in the tour­na­ment for a lot of the Humpy’s ladies,” said Aqua­holics mem­ber Laina Reisen­feld. “We wanted to be in­volved in the tour­na­ment and had been talking about it our­selves and then our owner said he would spon­sor us. He picked a cou­ple of vet­eran girls who have been there a while and it just all came to­gether.”

For the Aqua­holics, a big part of want­ing to join came down to this year’s theme.

Dressed as the fish­ing tank char­ac­ters from Find­ing Nemo, the Humpy’s crew was ex­cited to be a part of the fes­tiv­i­ties on Fri­day, though they strug­gled with cos­tume ideas. That wasn’t due to the lack of op­tions.

“Dis­ney — it’s com­pli­cated, its dif­fi­cult. There are so many movies and char­ac­ters to pick from,” Reisen­feld said. “But it also makes the cre­ativ­ity level sky­rocket. It’s very mag­i­cal and a lot of fun. I could not have thought of a bet­ter theme.”

As for the ac­tual fish­ing part of the tour­na­ment, Reisen­feld said she was ner­vous but still a bit ex­cited.

“None of us are fish­er­men, but hope­fully we will do well with a lit­tle guid­ance,” she said. “Even if we only catch the tini­est lit­tle baby ono, I don’t even care. I’m just happy to hang out with my friends, and be a part of the com­mu­nity.”

Not only does the tour­na­ment wel­come fe­male fish­er­men of all ex­pe­ri­ence lev­els, but it does not take a large group such as In­tegrity and Aqua­holics to com­pete. Team Au’struck is made up of only two mem­bers, Lisa Youngs and Teresa Oswald. Oswald has com­peted in the tour­ney five pre­vi­ous times. This is the sec­ond year for Youngs.

The duo en­joys all the fes­tiv­i­ties, but they are most ex­cited about the ac­tual fish­ing. Youngs’ hus­band is the team’s boat cap­tain.

“I don’t get to go out with my hus­band very of­ten, and I am not the most pa­tient per­son when it comes to fish­ing,” Youngs said. “But to be on a boat all day with one of my best friends, it is go­ing to be a lot of fun.”

Her team­mate Oswald agreed and even thought they may have a chance this year to take home a prize.

“We have never won be­fore, but we have caught fish and I think this is our year,” Oswald said. “The party tonight is a lot of fun, the af­ter-party is nice and re­lax­ing, but the fish­ing — that is my fa­vorite part.”


Team In­tergrity rides into Huggo’s on the Rocks on Fri­day, sig­nal­ing the start of the Wahine Fish­ing Tour­na­ment fes­tiv­i­ties on Fri­day.


Team Au’struck’s Lisa Youngs and Teresa Oswald dress as Chip and Dale from Res­cue Rangers.


Team Humpys Aqua­holics dress as char­ac­ters from Find­ing Nemo. Pic­tured, start­ing in the front row, from left to right, are Caitlin Zi­olkowski, Tif­fany Ya­m­aguchi, Shelly Ca­bant­ing, Laina Reisen­feld, Elissa Good­man and Laura Dowsett.

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