When ranking tournaments, the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in Kona, Hawaii came up with a perfect score in August of 2015. In it’s 56th year the tournament attracted 30 plus teams from Hawaii, California, New Zealand, Africa, Japan, Australia, and Papua New Guinea, China, and Vanuatu, to name a few. According to Peter Fithian, currently in his 6th decade as HIBT convener, every team in the competition had points on the Leaderboard by the end of stop fishing on day 5.
2015 HIBT Day One: Fishing began at 7:30AM on Monday, August 10, 2015 with the threat of a hurricane on the horizon to heighten the already high competitive tension among the teams. There were 36 point earning fish captured on day one, including over 30 Pacific Blue Marlin. Most fish were tagged and released, but Makoto Yeagashi of Japan’s Kona Game Fishing Club, boated a 573lb. (260kg) blue marlin caught on 50lb. (24kg) line aboard the Ihu Nui with Capt. Rice. The light tackle earned the team extra points and the lead at the end of the first day of fishing.
|2015 HIBT Day One Results|
|Kona GFC Kusatsu||964||Ihu Nui||964|
|Laguna Niguel Billfish Club||800||TopShape||800|
|Nanhai Lang Tao Club||700||Kona Seafari||700|
|Mermaids Anglers Club||600||Northern Lights II||700|
|Kona GFC Olympian Dream||550||Hooked Up||550|
|Sunshine Coast GFC||550||Bite Me 3||550|
2015 HIBT Day Two: of the HIBT began with flat seas typical of the Kona coast, the protected lee side of the Big Island of Hawaii, and still no effect from the approaching hurricane. Again the fishing was excellent with many marlin tagged and released and several intense battles with large ahi (yellow fin tuna) on light tackle. Rold Czabayski from South Australia’s GFC team boated a 164.5lb (74.6kg) ahi (yellow fin tuna) caught on 50lb. line aboard the ??????, the largest tuna of the tournament so far, putting the Sunshine Coast team into first place. Following closely behind Australian’s Sunshine Coast was second place Team Likeke Club with angler, Rich Wilson’s 447lb. blue marlin caught aboard Capt. Ryan Foster’s Dojo on 50lb. test line.
|2015 HIBT Day Two Results|
|Sunshine Coast GFC||1,688||Illusions||1,645|
|Team Likeke Club||1,495||Ihu Nui||1,564|
|Kona GFC||1,264||Northern Lights II||1,000|
|Nanhai Lang Tao Club||1,000||Topshape||900|
|Mermaids Anglers Club||900||Hooked Up||550|
2015 HIBT Day Three: One marlin and one ahi were boated by New Zealand Ahipara GFC aboard Capt. Jim Wigzell’s Hooked Up on Wednesday. Daryl Bradley of New Zealand hooked his marlin shortly before the stop fishing signal and battled the 408lb. tail wrapped fish for over two hours before boating it. 13 other fish were tagged and released and the tournament lead switched among Australia, Japan, and USA as the day progressed. By 4:30PM Team Likeke pulled into first place on the Leaderboard only 207 points ahead of Australia’s Sunshine Coast Game Fishing Club.
Bradley’s 408lb (185.15kg) marlin was caught on 80lb line (37kg) and team member Mark Gurr from the Bay of Island Swordfish Club in Russell, NZ landed his 157lb ahi (72.2kg) on 50lb (24kg) line, moving Wigzell’s Hooked Up into the fourth place for top boat of the tournament.
|2015 HIBT Day Three Results|
|Team Likeke Club||1,895||Illusionsp||1,745|
|Sunshine Coast GFC||1,688||Ihu Nui||1,564|
|Kona GFC Kusatsu||1,564||Northern Lights II||1,300|
|Nanhai Lang Tao Club||1,300||Hooked Up||1,050|
|New Britain GFC||1,150||Kona Blue||950|
2015 HIBT Day Four: Perfect weather conditions continued as the approaching hurricane lost power and was downgraded to a tropical storm. Claire Duke of Australia’s Sunshine Coast team caught the largest tuna of the tournament on Thursday, a 191 lb yellow fin tuna. Duke, fishing with 50lb (24kg) line, reeled the tuna to the Vixen within 35 minutes.
Team New Britain of Papua New Guinea launched themselves into third place by tagging and releasing two Pacific Blue Marlin. There were a total of 16 blue marlin and one spearfish tagged and released on day four. Team Likeke managed to hold on to their lead over Australia’s Sunshine Coast.
|2015 HIBT Day Four Results|
|Team Likeke Club||2,195||Hooked Up||1,658|
|Sunshine Coast GFC||1,988||Illusions||1,645|
|New Britain GFC||1,700||Northern Lights II||1,600|
|Kona GFC Kusatsu||1,614||Ihu Nui||1,564|
|Nanhai Lang Tao Club||1,600||Kona Blue||1,550|
2015 HIBT Day Five: It was still anyone’s contest on Friday, August 14, 2015, the last day of the 56th Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament. Only a matter of a few hundred points separated the top ranked teams.
2nd place Sunshine Coast GFC from South Australia and Japan’s 4th place Kusatsu teams both tagged and released blue marlin on the last day of fishing. First place team Likeke hooked into a small spearfish and tagged it. At the end of the day, that small spearfish captured the winner’s trophy for Rick Wilson’s Team Likeke from the mainland USA, giving them a scant 7 point lead over Australia’s 2nd place Sunshine Coast Game Fish Club. Japan’s Kusatsu (Kona Game Fishing Club) finished a solid 3rd.
The 56th HIBT was action packed from start of fishing on Monday, August 10th – to the very last minutes before stop fishing on Friday, August 14, 2015. Next year’s 57th annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament promises to be just as exciting and even more well attended. The 57th HIBT begins with a silent auction and fishing lure expo on Saturday, July 30, 2016 and ends with a winner’s celebration on Friday, August 6, 2016.
|2015 HIBT Day Five Results|
|Team Likeke Club||2,296||Illusions||2,445|
|Sunshine Coast GFC||2,289||Northern Lights II||2,000|
|Kona GFC Kusatsu||2,114||Ihu Nui||1,764|
|Mermaids Anglers Club||2.100||Hooked Up||1,658|
|Nanhai Lang Tao Club||1,700||Kona Blue||1,550|
|New Britain GFC||1,700||TopShape||1,450|
Winner’s Trophy for Rick Wilson’s Team Likeke