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Hawaii Marlin Take Spotlight : Fishing: Anglers from around the world will compete in the tournament that begins today.


KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII — Hundreds of big-game anglers will participate in the 35th Annual Hawaii International Billfish Tournament, which starts today.

Competing will be 70 teams--21 from the U.S. mainland, with others from as far away as Kenya, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Tahiti, Fiji, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, the Philippines, the Bahamas and Germany.

Teams representing California include the Laguna Niguel Billfish Club Nos. 1 and 2, the Beverly Hills Yacht Club, the Challengers Angling Club of West Covina, the Los Angeles Billfish Club, the Lucky Trojans from Beverly Hills, Malibu Marlin Club, Marina del Rey Anglers Club Nos. 1 and 2, Orange Crest Billfish Team from Newport Beach, Record Breakers Gamefish Club of Newhall, Pajaro Valley Gamefish Club of Watsonville and the San Rafael Billfish Club.

The tournament is the premier event of big-game fishing.

Rancher-developer Gil Kraemer of Laguna Niguel Billfish club No. 1 holds a line-class world record for a 1,062-pound blue marlin he landed on 50-pound test line during this tournament in 1986 at Kailua-Kona. Kraemer is competing again this year.

In a pro-am event last Thursday, Ray Hawkes of Torrance caught a 1,166-pound blue marlin that, if approved by the International Game Fish Assn., would break Kraemer's record.

An invitation-only event, the HIBT was founded in 1959 by tournament chairman Peter Fithian, a one-time manager of the old Kona Inn that turned Kailua-Kona into a visitor destination.

Competition draws anglers of both sexes. Veteran fishermen recall the year--1973--that Doris Jones, a grandmother from Novato, Calif., landed a 669-pound marlin on 130-pound test line, a record at the time.

Only fish weighing 200 pounds or more qualify under tournament rules. In a conservation effort, a tag-and-release program was introduced in 1986. Of 96 fish caught last year, all but 16 were released after being tagged.

In the tournament's opening year, barely a dozen charter boats served Kailua-Kona. Today, with one of the world's largest year-round fishing fleets serving the port, dozens of boats are in the lineup.

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