City worker hooks huge fish, $10,000
By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau
WAI'ANAE Saying he's "just a small guy with a small boat," Abelio Tingcang caught the biggest fish and took home the biggest prize $10,000 in the Ahi Fever in Wai'anae Fishing Tournament.
"I got lucky, I guess," said Tingcang, an employee of the city refuse department.
The Ahi Fever tournament, now in its fifth year, offered $116,000 in prizes and 62 different ways to win including catching the most or largest 'ahi, mahimahi, ono or marlin. Contestants came from the Mainland and Neighbor Islands.
The smallest boat among the 260 entered was just 13 feet long and the largest was longer than the height of a five-story building, according to Wai'anae harbormaster William Aila Jr.
"It looked like a condominium in the water and (Tingcang) was in competition with people like that," Aila said. "They have the best depth recorders, the best global positioning systems, hot water, microwave, TV, and he has a little open boat."
The only luxury on Tingcang's Ali'i Kai fishing boat is a small canvas canopy to shield him from the sun. He took vacation time from work to prepare his boat for the tournament and worked late at night at the harbor making a fiberglass sponson for the front of the boat to keep splashing water out. Without it his boat might not have been seaworthy and his $350 entry fee would have been wasted.
Tingcang usually fishes alone, going out almost every weekend. Because this was a tournament, he took his brother, Mark, with him for support.
"I could not go out that far, so we just hung out there to have a nice fishing trip," Tingcang said. "Small boats cannot go that far like the big boats."
About five miles out to sea Saturday, he got a bite and knew it was a big fish, but after a brief fight, that fish got away. As the brothers were headed back to the harbor, they decided to throw in a lure and within minutes had hooked another fish.
"We were ready to go home and give up, then suddenly got a hit," he said.
Tingcang, a Wai'anae resident, said he was shocked that he caught the biggest fish, which was only two pounds shy of being the largest 'ahi ever caught during the tournament.
"Who would think that a small boat could go into the tournament and win?" Tingcang said. "We do it every year; it's a local tournament, so we have to go. In fishing, if you lucky, you lucky."
Tingcang said he will share the prize money and the fish with his brother and father and plans to pay bills and buy a cooler large enough to hold a marlin.
Tournament chairman Ed Nelson said that although no records were set for largest fish caught, it was the first time more than 20,000 total pounds of fish was brought in.
"Everybody feels they have a chance," Nelson said. "They have tournaments for the big charter boats and a small guy would not even think about entering. This tournament, they all have an equal chance of winning."
The event is presented by the Wai'anae Boat Fishing Club, and sponsored by Chevron, JN Chevrolet, Windward Boats, and Coors Light. Some of the proceeds are used for scholarships for Leeward Coast youth.
Correction: Abelio Tingcang was misidentified in the photo in a previously posted version of this story. Tingcang, who caught a 201.2-pound ahi in a fishing tournament in Waianae, is standing to the right of the fish with his hat on backwards. Also, the photo is courtesy of Ed Nelson and the Waianae Boat Fishing Club.