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No one in the tournament-fishing universe would turn down the opportunity to start the Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series by catching a 942.5-pound blue marlin. Many people who spend their lives chasing marlin never even see a fish that large, simply because, at least in part, there are few individual fish swimming around in the ocean that reach that milestone.
Most male blue marlin stop growing when they get to be about 300 pounds or so and can live about 20 years, according to otolith dissections. About 85 percent of the male marlin caught in Hawaii are between 100 and 200 pounds. Female blue marlin weighing more than 1,000 pounds can live to be in their thirties. However, 80 percent of females tested from dock samples in 2013 were between 250 and 600 pounds. Back when all marlin were brought to the dock, the dearth of small females made many people think that marlin change sex when they reached about 250 pounds, but nature doesn’t seem to agree.
The dramatic difference in size between male and female blue marlin is known as a sexual size dimorphism. This size dimorphism is not due to a sex change from male to female, but just a different growth pattern. Most marlin under 400 pounds are tagged and released in tournaments these days, so those age/growth ratio studies of old are even more important now.
All that fish biology is interesting enough, but it’s actually a bit of a long-winded explanation as to why catching such a behemoth of a fish made lady angler Kathleen Wyatt ecstatic. Not only was it a fish of a lifetime, but the odds were slim that anyone would catch a larger one throughout the Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series. Plus, the series scores total points, so it would take six fish tagged to score more points than that one big one. Wyatt and her team aboard Sea Genie II could feel good about their early lead. In addition, they won the Lazy Marlin Hunt event with that fish and one other tagged.
A lady angler leading the series is also about as probable as one catching a 900-pounder, and for the same reason—statistically there are few wahine anglers swimming around in the tournament sea, especially in Kona. But for six months, Wyatt did indeed lead the entire series. It wasn’t until the final hour of the eighth tournament of the 2022 series that she was finally dethroned by another veteran, fishing aboard Bwana.
That’s when team owner Craig Lindner Jr. laid claim to the champion angler title by landing a 468-pound blue marlin on the third and final day of the aptly named It’s a Wrap tournament, the last leg of the 2022 HMT series.
Wyatt went into the Wrap with 4,117.4 points, of which only 1,242.5 were credited to her 942.5-pound blue. She tagged and released 15 more blue marlin on top of the points earned from her monster, which is how she kept the series lead all season. She peaked in the Kona Throw Down, where she tagged eight fish; after that, she caught only one marlin in each of the next three tournaments, while Lindner added 10 more marlin to his total.
Lindner went into the Wrap tourney with 3,381 points—a distant second to Wyatt, but second place nonetheless. Capt. Teddy Hoogs and crewman Logan McCollum put Lindner on five marlin and one tuna in the Wrap; the team earned 1,145 points from fish points and 300 more for their first-place finish in the tournament.
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Wyatt tagged another fish in the Wrap and had enough points built up to hang on to the lead for the series. It was only after the call to stop fishing that the boys on Bwana sealed the deal, weighing a 468-pound blue.
On Sea Genie II, Wyatt fished all season with her husband, Jamison, working the deck. Their two sons filled in as needed, mostly by capturing tag-and-release video, manning the chair and clearing rods. Capt. KJ Robinson was the only professional on board. There is a bit of irony there in the fact that Robinson is in only his second year as captain for the team, and for the second year in a row, he and his team finished second in the HMT series. Also ironic, prior to taking the helm on Sea Genie II, he spent a few years working the Bwana cockpit for Capt. Teddy Hoogs. Together with Lindner, they won the series championship in 2019.
Over the course of the 2022 series, 158 teams caught 179 blue marlin, of which 93 percent were tagged and released. Teams also tagged two striped marlin. Competition in Kona is heated among many of the top pros in the business, all fishing under strict IGFA rules, so doing well with a family team is no small accomplishment. In looking back, while no one would turn down a 942.5-pounder, nor the chance to lead the series for 21 of 22 days, the fact remains that in all sporting competitions, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.