Former lieutenant governor Diego Benavente and his crew aboard Victoria caught the day’s heaviest catch to rule the 11th Annual Mahi Fishing Derby held last Saturday that began and ended at the Smiling Cove Marina.
Benavente, along with his crew that included son James and Scott Shular, captured a 24.40-lb Mahi to clinch the top honors and pocket the $1,000 winner’s purse.
Benavente and company also placed fourth in the wahoo side event after snaring a 17.15-pounder.
The Victoria is a regular fixture in the Mahi tournament and is expected to be one of the local boats that would compete in the 31st Saipan International Fishing Tournament set from July 25 to 26 also at Smiling Cover Marina in Garapan.
The boat Carmelita came in second in the Mahi category with its 23.80-lb catch and settled for the $750 cash prize, while the Zeppelin of Tan Holdings legal counsel Steve Pixley placed third with a 22.50-lb mahi and won $500.
The San Juan and A.J. rounded up the Top 5 winners with 20.75 and 19.20 lbs, respectively, for in-kind prizes.
Keilani-Ko ruled the wahoo side event with the heaviest single catch of 23.95 lbs, while Boni placed second with a 21.20-pounder. CM569CF was third (19.35 lbs) and Princess Monie fifth (17.05 lbs).
A total of 38 boats joined Saturday’s event that was co-organized by the Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Saipan Fishermen’s Association, which was established in 1985.
“Though the waters were a little bit rough, it was a pretty good turnout for a fishing tournament for single species of fish. We were expecting 25 boats but it exceeded that,” said Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Richard B. Seman.
He added that the July international fishing tournament is the next event that they are preparing for since a number of off-island competitors are expected to join. “We’re expecting at least 70 or more.”