(BIVN) – Kona celebrated the diamond anniversary of its world-famous, annual marlin hunt this week with another international field of anglers, and this year the Laguna Niguel Billfish Club-Firestein team took the tournament.
From the event organizers:
Gaining 100 points for a short nose spearfish tag and release gave the father and son team of Laguna Niguel Billfish Club-Firestein the slim margin needed for a 2019 Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament victory and the coveted Governor’s Trophy.
This Laguna Niguel Billfish Club-Firestein team spent the day monitoring radio control and taking notes with every hook up and each tag and release reported. At 3:51 pm and nine minutes to stop fishing, Houston Big Game Fishing Club-Team Hilo called in a hookup that left the entire tournament of teams and anglers on baited breath as the tournament clock continued to wind down. Would this team pull up a large Pacific blue marlin large enough to propel them into the top spot at this late hour? This was the question on everyone’s mind. At 5:59 pm, radio control confirmed that an ahi had been boated but disqualified due to shark attack.
Laguna Niguel Billfish Club-Firestein team led by father and captain Martin Firestein and his son, Mitchell Firestein, who has been fishing this tournament with his dad since he was seven years old then learned they had indeed won the prestigious 60th tournament with a total of 1,600 points. “From the get go today, it was nerve racking. Everytime the radio crackled, we were both like ‘who is that and what did they catch?, said a very happy Mitchell Firestein. At the last hour we both knew we had no control over this. It is what it is. Today worked out. We are so happy to win here in Kona.”
Laguna Niguel Billfish Club-Firestein topped the 2019 leaderboard with 1,600 points followed by Olympian Dream Fishing Club with 1,450, Denarau Game & Sportfishing Club –Team Flying Fijians with 1,450 points and Kona Gamefish Club-Blue Fin with 1,400. It was an active scoreboard with a total of 35 teams putting points on the leaderboard during the 60th running of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament.
Captain Kevin Hibbard wins 2019 Henry Chee Award
The Henry Chee Memorial Award was established by the Board of Governors in 1965 to recognize the charter boat captain accumulating the greatest number of billfish points during the tournament.
Captain Kevin Hibbard will be added to the coveted list of Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament Henry Chee Award recipients. Congratulations to Captain Hibbard and his crew Brandon Wilder and OB Morten!
The Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament was founded 60 years ago, the same year Hawaii gained statehood, when a small group of local anglers including legendary Kona fisherman Henry Chee assembled in Kona Inn General Manager Peter Fithian’s office. Since its humble beginnings, the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament’s iconic status has evolved throughout the fishing world.
“For 60 years, the Kona community has welcomed the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament with love and aloha. We are appreciative of the community’s support throughout the tournament’s history, Mahalo to Kona for all you have given!” said Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament Founder Peter Fithian. “It took a long time to build a tournament like this one. The first 30 years are really the testing grounds. After that, you find the commitment but catching a fish is still the largest wild card.”