ANGLING FOR A GOOD TIME
Wahine get ready for annual fishing tournament
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.