HILO – The local love for ulua fishing was celebrated in Hilo on Sunday, June 14th.
Over 600 participants took part in the 12th annual S. Tokunaga Ulua Challenge, a new record. The target is the giant trevally; known as ulua in Hawaiian waters. The apex predator can grow to be over 100 pounds, which is the size these avid fisherman are all aiming for.
The crowd that packed the parking lot of the Hilo Civic Auditorium watched the parade of heavy duty pickup trucks one by one, waiting patiently to see the monster ulua, iced down and ready for judgement. Tournament rules give everyone four days to catch their fish before Sunday’s weigh-in. All fishing must be done from the shore.
Casting from Hawaii’s sea cliffs can be dangerous, as Laron Kageyama knows. The shorecaster almost met his end a few years ago when waves swept him into the ocean. Kageyama survived with the help of fellow fisherman and a flotation device, and remains undeterred. This year, his 75 pound ulua was good for forth place.
Excitement came mid-way through the event when Garrett Fujioka’s 83 pound fish gave him first place, at least temporarily.
Daven Dayoan was with one of the last groups to weigh-in, and they seemed to know they had the winning fish. The truckload of youngsters caught their 93 lbs. ulua using a barbless circle hook, a tool that is gaining in popularity as a method to give fish who get off the line a better chance of survival. Traditional hooks more often cause mortal damage to escapees. And Dayoan’s huge catch – good enough to win the entire tournament – proves the barbless circle hook can be just as effective.
RAW VIDEO: Daven Dayoan celebrates first place at the 2015 S. Tokunaga Ulua Challenge weigh-in in Hilo after reeling in a 93.9 pounder. Feel free to share this video with a Hawaii shorecaster you know. We'll have more footage from this event soon.
Posted by Big Island Video News on Sunday, June 14, 2015
ABOVE: Raw video of the winning weigh-in posted to Facebook by Big Island Video News.
Kurt Kawamoto, the Barbless Circle Hook Project Manager for NOAA, was on hand to congratulate the winners.
The day does not entirely feature the ulua. The smaller omilu is also a part of the contest, with its own standings board. The very last team to weigh-in Sunday, Kurt Nakamura Sr brought home two 22 pounders. Judging by his reaction, first place in the omilu division is welcome accomplishment.