Last year was deemed our "Legacy Season", as Aquahunters and Hawaii staked its claim as the mecca of modern day kayak fishing. Andy Cho defended his Makahiki crown for the fourth consecutive time topping 2,000 total points and clearly set himself above all as the King of Hawaiian kayak fishing. Chris Paglinawan the Hammah assumed his second place position for the second straight year and reigned supreme on Oahu as the two time Black Diamond Champion. Clearly Andy and Chris carry the sport on their shoulders but there is a long list of developing talent in the island chain. Third place finisher from Konas Devin Hallingstad aka Lone Wolf made his rookie debut in the Pro division and make his mark as an elite angler by setting the new yellowfin World Record.
These three men are poised for another season of fish smashing but not without the challenge of the rest of the Pro field. Oahus line of marlin hunters have put in some off season work to change the game in 2012. The Uyeda Brothers own the distinction of being the first Hawaii anglers to land a Blue marlin from a kayak when they did it in 2009. Last season Hoala Greevy went out and caught his own two Blue marlins within a week of each other to join the elite kayak Marlin club. And most recently Aloha Gannon and Isaac Brumaghim became the latest kayak fishermen to hunt down the apex predator when they brought in Hawaii's first ever kayak caught Striped marlins. The game has changed as the fishing strategy has been opened to a now attainable feat. What was used as a joking suggestion of last hope in the past we now go into this season seriuosly knowing a lead of 100 points or less over a fellow competitor can be dashed to bits by a marlin catch on any given day.
As with every season Aquahunters promotes its top finishers from the Recreational division to compete in the Pro division the following year. Along with Aloha Gannon the 2011 Rec Champion, Mauis young stunner Kris Bio, Big Island teammates Shawn Zenor and Grant Stolhand, and Oahu's newest smasher Scott Nakasone this surge of talent has enhanced the makeup of the Pro division giving it a mix of talent, youth, and experience not to mention an even more colorful group of characters to follow. This is the deepest field of talent since the 2009 season. And though the competition will be fierce, being amongst the best in the state is an honor for all of these fishermen and sportsmanship, comradere, and competitive fire will be on full display.
In the Recreational division they will be plenty of fireworks as it is still laden with local talent. Maui boys Keoni Catugal and Keahi Tom the Rec divisions 6th and 7th place finishers look to improve on their success of last season and make their way to a 2013 Pro invite. Giving them a run for the top spot will be Maui fishing guide Jon Jon Tabon a Penn sponsored angler, rumor has it that he would have been a top competitor in last seasons Pro division had he known about the Makahiki. Also out of Maui is Leo Pagaduan the reigning "Uku King" who should improve on his 10th place finish. From Oahu Steven Uchida aka Mongoose will be vying for another top ten finish as his progression really took off last season. Bill Newton, the 2010 Rec division runner up is back and should piece together his best season yet. Newcomers Josh Dela Cruz and Jaren Luke both have the talent to be threats to the crown but one wonders if they will have the time to put in all 25 days. And "Black Rob" out of Kau, Big Island has seemingly come out of some old lava tube to become a contender.
The Makahiki is a 8 month long trek for these anglers and it will test each of them. It takes preparation, focus, confidence, and support to make it to the end and finish strong. The collective journey is about to begin and Aquahunters are poised at taking Hawaii and its kayak fishing athletes to the forefront of the big game kayak fishing scene.
Aquahunters would like to wish all of our competitors a safe and healthy season with plenty of fish catching stories. Good luck to all of you, Aloha.