For Buzz Colton, Wednesday at the 58th annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament was marked with a memorable milestone — one that was not planned and not even supposed to happen for the Malibu Marlin Club angler.
A few months ago, Colton was sent to a cardiologist for a routine angiogram. He was supposed to be in and out in a couple of hours, but after the procedure he was told he would need open heart surgery and was scheduled for the following day.
“I asked when I was going home. They told me I wasn’t,” Colton said. “I thought that heart surgery was scheduled a couple of weeks in advance but they told me it was about priority so I said okay.”
The triple bypass surgery went well and Colton was given the good news that his heart was not damaged by the blockages and that he would be able to make a quick recovery.
However, with the HIBT scheduled just three months later, Colton had to make the decision that he was not going to fish in the tournament. He instead came as the captain to give moral support to his teammates.
That all changed on Wednesday as a series of events put Colton on the rod.
While out fishing on the 35-foot Rod Bender with Capt. Kerwin Masunaga, Colton’s teammate, Fred Duerr, hooked up on a fish and took the chair. Colton started to clear the other lures in the water but just 10 feet from getting a lure to the boat a 486.6-pound Pacific blue marlin came out of nowhere and hit.
“I went and sat down and put the reel on the deck because Fred was fighting another fish,” Colton said. “Then Fred lost his fish and they told me to get into the chair. I didn’t want to do it, but I had to be the one to reel it in or the catch would be disqualified.”
IGFA rules do not allow an angler to pass off a rod once he touches it. Colton was forced to sit in the chair and the fight would not be a quick one, lasting 4 hours and 22 minutes.
“I was hoping it would only be 20 minutes,” said Colton, who’s previous longest fight was against a 550-pound marlin in Cabo San Lucas that lasted a little over three hours. “The entire time I was fighting it, I was a little scared because I did not know how well everything had healed, but I guess it is fine. I am a very lucky person.”
Colton had the fish close to capture 10 or 12 times, but the marlin would get a look at the boat and take off. After the long fight was finally over Colton was physically and emotionally spent.
“I had not done a lot of exercise in the past four months and I was running out of energy,” Colton said. “I was probably the last person who should have been fighting that fish, but when you get stuck and you can’t pass it off, what are you supposed to do. I didn’t want to give a fish like that away.”
While Colton was willing to fight the fish for the long haul, he was also cautious.
“If I had felt anything wrong, I would have DQ’ed and quit,” he said. “I wasn’t going to kill myself.”
At the end of the day, and once the adrenaline wore off, Colton said he was probably the happiest person, not just in Kona, but in the world at that moment.
“When Steve (Spina) put they gaff in the fish, I couldn’t believe that I did it,” Colton said. “I was so preoccupied with worrying about myself I wasn’t sure if this is how it was going to end.”
With Colton’s catch, Malibu Marlin Club now has the only weighed billfish in the tournament and the largest of the last two years.
“We now have one prize but we are fishing against world class anglers, so I believe someone is going to catch a bigger fish,” Colton said. “It will be a matter of luck if this holds up but I would be glad to take it because I like their trophies.”
Core Marlin Club
back on top
Japan’s Core Marlin Club reclaimed its lead from the first day of the tournament with a tag and release on Wednesday. The marlin reeled in by Shoichi Nakaya gave the team 900 points, giving them a 200 point lead on Surfside Marina-Team Miss Behavin. Malibu Marlin Club jumped into third with 686.6 points.
Of the 18 teams in the tournament, 16 have scored points.
Capt. Bomboy Llanes brought in the second ahi of the tournament for Bomboy’s Toy. This time the ahi was reeled in by Japan’s Kona Game Fishing Club-Osaka’s Keiji Matsuba. The 125-pounder was on the boat in 27 minutes.
At 950 points, Kila Kila, with Capt. Brian Wargo, holds a slim 50 point lead in the Top Boat contest ahead of Capt. Rob Eilyn on Lightspeed. Ihu Nui I, with Capt. McGrew Rice and Humdinger, with Capt. Jeff Fay, are tied for third at 850 points each.