REEL IT IN

Wahine take to the waters for fish­ing tour­ney

West Hawaii Today - - Front Page - BY LAURA RUMINSKI WEST HAWAII TO­DAY lru­min­ski@west­hawai­ito­day.com

KAILUA-KONA — They splished and they splashed, but by the end of the day, the fish proved il­lu­sive to catch at the Huggo’s Wahine Fish­ing Tour­na­ment on Sat­ur­day.

The morn­ing kicked off at Kailua Bay with a flurry of ac­tiv­ity, as 76 teams com­pet­ing in the 22nd an­nual edi­tion of the tour­na­ment took part in a boat-to-boat wa­ter fight.

The wahine an­glers — dressed in Dis­ney-themed at­tire — doused each other with buck­ets, hoses and wa­ter canons un­til the 8 a.m. an­nounce­ment of, “start fish­ing, start fish­ing, start fish­ing.”

Then the ladies got down to busi­ness, and while the ocean was calm, the fish sim­ply weren’t bit­ing.

“This was the slow­est fish­ing day in the tour­na­ment’s 22 year his­tory. There were no weighed mar­lin,” tour­na­ment di­rec­tor Sue Ver­mil­lion said.

With the lack of big bites, the tour­ney be­came more of a game of tag.

Un­der tour­na­ment rules, mar­lin un­der 300 pounds must be tagged and re­leased. If no mar­lin are weighed, the win­ner is de­ter­mined by the time the fish was tagged — the ear­lier, the bet­ter.

For the day, eight mar­lin in all were tagged. The first caught was an es­ti­mated 150 pounds on the Ahi Lani by an­gler Ken­dra

pressed with tu­ition costs and mount­ing stu­dent loans and HD TV is an at­trac­tive op­tion in ad­di­tion to other forms of en­ter­tain­ment, UH needs to bring added value to the equa­tion.

The ur­gency isn’t just for the im­me­di­ate term but to as­sure cus­tomers and donors for the fu­ture as well. Stud­ies sug­gest that folks who didn’t at­tend games as stu­dents or re­cent grad­u­ates are un­likely to do so or con­trib­ute in the fu­ture.

Matlin said, “We’re work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively with Scott (Chan, the sta­dium man­ager) to try to find some so­lu­tions. Chan said, “We want to im­prove the ex­pe­ri­ence for our fans and as­sist our part­ner, UH, in any way that we can.”

The talks come as of­fi­cials say an in­cen­tive-based pro­posal that would re­ward UH for hit­ting des­ig­nated turn­stile bench­marks is on the ta­ble for ne­go­ti­a­tion.

As UH brings in more cus­tomers and the sta­dium earns more rev­enue from con­ces­sion, park­ing, etc., UH would stand to share in the ben­e­fits.

Cur­rently, UH pays no rent but is charged ap­prox­i­mately $90,000-$100,000 per game for op­er­a­tional ex­penses, in­clud­ing staffing, clean-up, util­i­ties and se­cu­rity. UH also is able to pur­chase some park­ing for re­sale and place some ad­ver­tis­ing in the fa­cil­ity.

The sta­dium is re­quired by the state to fund its own op­er­a­tional and pay­roll ex­penses and it has been hard-pressed to do so as UH av­er­age at­ten­dance has dropped from 34,742 in 2010, its last win­ning sea­son, to an his­toric low of 16,082 in 2015. The drop has been re­flected in the value of food and bev­er­age con­tracts the sta­dium has been able to ne­go­ti­ate with the con­ces­sion­aire, drop­ping from 48.5 per­cent to 34.1 per­cent.

While last year’s at­ten­dance in the first non-los­ing sea­son in six years showed a gain of 3,216 per game, lag­ging sea­son-ticket sales (14,462 in 2016 vs. 15,238 in 2015) tem­pered the over­all re­bound.

Matlin told the Sta­dium Au­thor­ity Thurs­day that sea­son-ticket re­newals this year are run­ning at 92 per­cent of last year. The tar­get, this year, Matlin said, is to stop the eight-year sea­son-ticket slide. “Our goal is to at least flat­ten out and, then, be­gin rais­ing (the to­tals) again.”

Win­ning games will help, but UH, like its brethren, needs to win over a youth­ful con­stituency as well.

LAURA RUMINSKI/ WEST HAWAII TO­DAY

Teams get to­gether in Kailua Bay for a wa­ter fight Sat­ur­day morn­ing be­fore the start of the 22nd an­nual Wahine Fis­ing Tour­na­ment.

LAURA RUMINSKI/

The largest ono at 28.5 pounds was caught by The Kegs an­gler Chelsea Caminiti on board Hooked Up Sat­ur­day at the 22nd an­nual Wahine Fish­ing Tour­na­ment.

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