Salty Bandits 2 reels in mightiest mahi

Posted on May 17 2022

Salty Bandits 2 captain Austin Benavente, right, and a crew member poses with the winning mahi mahi during 18th Annual Mahi-Mahi Fishing Derby last Saturday. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

The sweet taste of victory was savored by the crew of Salty Bandits 2 after they reeled in the mightiest mahi in the 18th Annual Mahi-Mahi Fishing Derby last Saturday.

Captain Austin Benavente and anglers Ken Salas and Joey Tudela caught a 21.1-lb fish to win the $2,000 first place purse and a year’s worth of bragging rights.

Interviewed by emcee Curtis Dancoe during the awards ceremony after the derby, Benavente said they caught their prized catch while crossing Tinian and it took five minutes to land the fish. 

Pressed what kind of lure they used to catch the winning mahi, Benavente just said the color of the skirt was milky white.

Salty Bandits 2 took to the seas for the 18th Annual Mahi-Mahi Fishing Derby aboard a 17-foot Boston Whaler. 

Sweet Candy skippered by George Moses came in second with their 19.2-lb mahi. Moses was joined in his trimaran by Mike Kukun, Peter Moses, Brien Moses, and Nick Muna. They earned $1,500 for all their trouble.

Third place was J3RM with their captain Manuel Mogar and deckhands Joeed and Lorenz Quemado after they landed an 18.1-pounder. They went home with $1,000.

Fourth and fifth places went to Guguan and Sesa after their crew caught mahi mahi that weighed 17.8 lbs and 12.1 lbs, respectively. Guguan is captained by Keith Torres, while Sesa has Steve Reyes as skipper. They pocketed gift certificates worth $300 and $100 for finishing in the Top 5.

Salty Bandits 3 crewman Keith Fernandez center, receives the side bet winnings of $1,800 after reeling in the heaviest wahoo in 18th Annual Mahi-Mahi Fishing Derby last Saturday. He is joined in the photo by Saipan Fishermen Association officials. (MARK RABAGO)

On the $1,800 side bet, Salty Bandits 3 cleaned out the table after reeling in a 30.1-lb wahoo. 

Dancoe later said that the crew of Salty Bandits 3 was simply reaping the good karma they sowed during the last Saipan International Fishing Tournament.

“They’re newcomers on the scene and during the Saipan international derby they caught this marlin and they weighed it then cut it up and gave it to everyone for free to enjoy.” 

Salty Bandits 3 is captained by Guy Macaranas with Angelo Tudela, Keith Fernandez, and Angie Ayuyu as anglers.

The organizing Saipan Fishermen Association congratulated all the winners and thanked all who participated in last weekend’s derby.

“Thank you to all participants, volunteers, team SFA, our major sponsor Budwiesr and Marpac. Thank you also to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Smiling Cove Marina staff and management, DPS Boating Safety, American Memorial Park, Micronesia Islands Nature alliance, and Rep. Joseph “ Lee Pan” Guererro (R-Saipan).

Thank you all for being part of another successful mahi tournament. Fish on!” said SFA president Tony Scragg.

The 18th Annual Mahi-Mahi Fishing Derby attracted a total of 44 boats. Next up for the SFA is the 38th Annual Saipan International Fishing Tournament set from July 16 to 17, 2022

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at
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