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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, July 25, 2003

Women's fishing event setting sights on record

By Baxter Cepeda
Advertiser Staff Writer

Huggo's Na Pua O Ke Kai Wahine Tournament

• The requirements for the tournament include a boat that is certified for at least six people, a captain and crew (one), which can be men. A 130-pound test-line must be used.

• Entry forms can be picked up at Huggo's Restaurant or at Vermillion's Billfish Shop. For more information, call (808) 329-7371.
The Huggo's Na Pua O Ke Kai Wahine Tournament will be trolling for a bit of history as well as big fish tomorrow on the Big Island.

The one-day event, in its eighth year, is attempting to break the world record for the most teams in an all-female fishing tournament.

"We're almost there," said Sue Vermillion, a co-director of the tournament that will take place at Kona. There are 90 four-woman teams registered. Registration closes tonight at 8.

Vermillion said the Ladies Fish-Off in Pompano Beach, Fla., holds the record with more than 100 two-woman teams.

In addition to the 70 teams from Hawai'i, there will also be teams from California, Alaska, Florida, Canada and New Zealand.

Vermillion is the lone woman to win the World Cup Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament, doing so in 1994 with a 654-pound marlin.

With the size of the Huggo event growing, though, Vermillion will find herself on land for this year's event.

"I'm the designated dock person," Vermillion said. "Somebody has got to be around to weigh fish throughout the day."

Patricia "Peach" Coad, the other co-director, does get to take to the water. Coad will compete on the 65-foot Sun Seeker, all part of her public relations responsibilities.

"Everybody wants to see me competing," she said.

Vermillion will have plenty to keep her busy around the dock. She will follow the action by listening to a radio which boats report catches to.

"It's pretty exciting how the day unfolds," she said. "Every woman you can imagine is out there fishing. It's really huge."

Cash and prizes will be awarded for the five largest marlins. The winning team will be invited to compete in the 2004 Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament.

Angler Rosa Mckee of Team "Malama Kai" caught a 529-pound Pacific Blue Marlin last year on the fishing boat Long Ranger, with captain Lance Gelman, to take first place and $5,000.

Vermillion said that catches could top 1,000 pounds this year. A 1,258-pound blue marlin was caught off the Kona Coast earlier this summer.

Vermillion expects good catches for the Huggo this year because of the tide. It will rise throughout the day, culminating with high tide at 3 p.m.

"That's the fishing day you want," Vermillion said. "Rising tide with a big change. I think the fishing is going to be excellent."

Vermillion also expects competition to be tight.

"It's a level playing field," she said. "It's pretty wide open. Any of the teams has an equal chance of winning."

There also will be awards for tag-and-release (minimum 200 pounds); biggest ahi, ono, and mahi mahi; best decorated boat and one for the mother-daughter team that lands the largest fish.

The weigh-ins will be held at the fuel dock at Honokohau Harbor at 4 p.m. and will be open to the public.

The tournament is held as a fund-raiser for Family Support Services of West Hawai'i. The tournament has made $47,000 for the non-profit group over the years.

"The proceeds go to such a good cause," Vermillion said. "It's a win-win event for everybody. It was important that we help our local community."

Captains in the area volunteer by chartering their boats and time to competitors for gasoline.

"That's their way of giving back," said Coad.