An early catch turned out to be the winning one for Aquaholics, as it topped the 35th Annual Saipan International Fishing Tournament held over the weekend.
Captain Tony Flores and his anglers Luis Manibusan and Juan Castro reeled in a 462-lb marlin around 7am way off the Saipan lagoon to take the grand prize in this year’s competition that featured 76 boats.
“It took as about an hour to bring it into our boat and then we headed back to the dock to turn our catch in,” said Flores, whose group was the first to hit the scale at the Smiling Cove Marina after checking in at a little over 10am last Saturday.
When asked where they found the prized catch, Flores wisely responded, “it’s a top secret.”
“It’s our hunting place, others may check that next time if they found out,” added Manibusan, who considered himself the lucky charm of the team.
It’s Manibusan’s third time to join the Aquaholics’ crew, but he has been a long-time competitor in the derby. He was an angler for Cabo Express that won the grand prize back-to-back (2007 and 2008).
Aquaholics got the heaviest marlin a few hours before it rained and the water conditions became challenging, according to Castro.
“We went back to the water in the afternoon, but got nothing,” Castro said.
Despite coming back to the dock empty handed, Aquaholics’ 462-lb marlin was enough to ensure the boat the win—its first—as Heller fell short in its bid to unseat the former in first place after last Saturday’s competition.
The Melvin Aldan-skipper Heller turned in a 438-lb catch to settle for first place in the marlin category. Emmanuel of captain Mike James from Guam caught a 238-lb marlin last Sunday for second place, while captain Wayne Martin’s Nombei finished third with its 204.6-lb catch. Emmanuel still holds the derby record of 942 lbs (2012).
Meanwhile, CM 4735, St. Christopher, Bella, Ocean Masta, and Jernie II were the top placers in other categories.
Jernie II won the total weight division after reeling in 304 lbs, while Ocean Masta finished first in the skipjack category (14.9 lbs), beating Bunita (14.6 lbs) and Olympic (14 lbs). Bella was way ahead in the mahi competition with its 24.8-lb catch, while Bottoms Up (10.1 lbs) and Lady in Red (8.3) came in at second and third, respectively.
In the wahoo category, St. Christopher had a close win with its 30.7-lb catch. Chada Gu’eru and Santa Soledad turned in their catch that weighed similarly (29.8 lbs), but the former won, as it brought its wahoo earlier than the latter.
There was also a close battle in the yellow fin category with CM 4735’s 47.8-lb catch edging the 46.2 lbs of Victoria Lei and 46 lbs of Magnificat.