REEL IT IN
Wahine take to the waters for fishing tourney
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.
Teams get together in Kailua Bay for a water fight Saturday morning before the start of the 22nd annual Wahine Fising Tournament.
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.