Guam anglers aboard Emannuel and Magnifcat landed the biggest catches in last weekend's 28th Annual Saipan International Fishing Tournament and enjoyed the spoils of their accomplishments during Monday night's awards banquet held poolside at Hyatt Regency Saipan.
Emmanuel's captain Mike Frank James with crewmen George Arriola, John Hottig, and Frank James reeled in a record-breaking 942-lb marlin six hours into the completion Saturday morning.
On Monday, they took home Century Insurance Co. and Pacifica Insurance Underwriters, Inc.'s $10,000 grand prize along with an additional sum of $3,000 provided by tournament organizer Saipan Fishermen's Association.
The crew of Emmanuel also received an emergency first-aid kit from the American Red Cross and won a $1,600 side bet over 15 other entrants and went back to Guam with a total cash haul of $14,600.
James said that it took them a nerve-racking close to three hours to land the giant fish.
“As we worked to get it in the boat I was so worried that we might lose it. I didn't know how hard it was to catch a 900-lb fish when I woke up Saturday morning, but I do now and let me tell you, it is very difficult,” said James after his team received their prize package in front of a standing ovation.
James and his team graciously thanked the crowd and attested that the Saipan event is by far their team's favorite even before the big payday.
“We go all over the Pacific and, year after year, we always look forward to this event,” he said.
The group raised the bar so high that, from now on, the grand prize sum will be increased to $25,000 in 2013.
A quarter-ton behind in first place, Guam's Magnificat's captain Frank Camacho and anglers Mark Atero and Roy Reyes snagged a 335.5-lb marlin for $2,000 and a $150 gift certificate from Microl Corp.
Meanwhile, Saipan's Luka & Ben won the esteemed total weight gem with a total catch weight of 217.60 lbs. The group is comprised of captain Rick George with anglers Melvin and Phillip Aldan, Ben Fitipol, Mika George, and Steve Igisair.
They received $1,000, a roundtrip ticket to Japan provided by Delta Airlines, and a $200 gift certificate from Fishing Tackle.
Team Carmelita teamed up with the Mizuwari's captain Chief Justice Alex Castro, Joe Borja, Greg Camacho, Jervy Babauta, Alex Castro Jr., Jerry Smith, Pat Ulechong, and the tournament's first-ever fisherman from Russia, Evgeniy, and split $1,000 for their billfish weighing 243.5 lbs.
Fish Hunter's captain Takede Nakazato and anglers Steve and Ando Reyes hooked a 211.65-lb marlin for $850. Second and third placers also received a $25 Naked Fish Bar & Grill gift certificate and a $50 gift card from Pacific Air Condition.
Saint James' skipper Antonio Maestro and Mario Jumalon wrestled in a 43.30-lb yellowfin tuna that won first prize by almost 10 lbs. They received a cool $1,000 and a night's stay for two with breakfast at Pacific Islands Club.
CM-0886-PU's captain Manuel Mogar and Arnell Pajaro did well in the event with a 34.25-lb yellowfin that won runner-up honors. They shared $500, a Red Cross emergency kit, and a Sunday brunch for two at PIC.
San Juan II's John San Nicolas and angler Erel Moises nabbed a 33.35-lb yellowfin for third place and $300, a Marianas Resort go-cart certificate and a dinner for two at Hyatt's Killi Terrace.
The Top 2 place finishers in the yellowfin category also received a $25 Car Quest gift card.
Keilani Ko captain Frank A. Reyes and his crewmen won first place in the wahoo category with their 32.15-pounder and took home $1,000, a Red Cross emergency kit, two PIC water park passes, and a $50 gift card from Shinanigan's.
Padre de Famila's skipper Calistro Reyes and anglers Calostro Jr. and James Reyes took second prize with their 30.75-lb wahoo and received $500 and a $25 Car Quest gift card.
Guam's Rose Marie rounded out third place with a 30.60-lb wahoo that awarded captain Tom Aguon and anglers Eugene Bolton and Al Sizemore $300 and Red Cross emergency kit. Second and third placers also received a pair of PIC water park passes and $25 gift certificate for Shinanigan's.
Saint Andrew's John Roberto and crewmen John Faisao and Dominic Maletaluo caught a first prize winning 26.65-lb mahi and shared $1,000, a $25 Car Quest gift card, a sunset dinner for two provided by Saipan Ventures, and a free lunch and spa treatment at Marianas Resort.
Guam's Debbie 1 took second place in the category with its 8.55-lb mahi and received $500, a $25 gift certificate from Joe's Steakhouse, and a Red Cross emergency kit. The team is made up of skipper Roque Chaco and crewmen Anthony, Randal and Ray Chaco, and Romy Magan.
CM-0886-PU reeled in a hefty 18.95-lb skipjack that won first place in the class and warmly welcomed an extra $500 and a pair of $50 gift cards from Car Quest and Pacific Air Condition.
Just behind them came Victoria's 18.80-pounder that earned captain Diego Benavente and anglers James, Ron, and Vicky Benavente $350.
My Lady Gora finished strong in third place with an 18.60-lb skipjack that won captain Jesse Aldan and crewmen Jason Aldan, John Castro, Bernard Raoligid, and Jesse Sablan $250. Second and third placers also received either $75 in fuel or 2,500 smiles points from Mobil Oil Marianas and a $25 coupon from Naked Fish.
The group actually tied Padre de Famila on the weight chart, but won the tiebreaker for checking in first on Sunday.
In addition, the team won an additional $300 from Yamaha for catching the heaviest fish that did not receive a prize; only boats with Yamaha motors were eligible to win the bonus prize.
Tournament organizers would like to thank Mar-Pac, Chong's Corp., Sabalu Market, Saipan Industrial Gas, the Pacific Marine Resources Institute, JWS, Mobil, the Marianas Visitor Authority, Joe's Steakhouse/PBIC, Delta Airlines, Pacific Air Conditioning, the Fleming Hotel, J.E.T. Holdings, McDonald's, Micronesian Wood Craft, Docomo Pacific, Microl Corp., Car Quest, Pacific Insurance, Triple-B, NMC-CREES, NMC-CDI, Micronesian Marine, Marianas Resort, Shenanigan's, Hyatt Regency Saipan, Fiesta Resort & Spa, Saipan Sea Ventures, American Red Cross, Seafix, Rep. Joseph Deleon Guerrero, Department of Land and Natural Resources Secretary Arnold Palacios, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Smiling Cove Marina, Rep. Ramon Tebuteb, Sen. Pete Reyes, Joeten Superstore and Joeten Motors, the DPS Boating Safety crew, Coastal Resources Management, and Emergency Management Office for helping make the event a big success.