Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament: Arakawa sets tourney record with catch

A diminutive woman from Japan made the biggest splash on an otherwise quiet day at the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament.

Mari Arakawa of Olympian Dream Fishing Club hauled in a 622.6-pound blue marlin — the largest a woman has ever caught on 50-pound test line in the 55-year history of the tournament.

Fishing aboard Illusions captained by Tim Hicks, Arakawa got a bite just after 10 a.m. — about 2 ½ hours after the tournament resumed. It was a long and drawn-out battle, with Arakawa fighting the fish for four hours and eight minutes before she was able to bring it aboard.

“She was so strong,” Arakawa said of the marlin. “Strong enough for me!”

The catch topped the 584-pound marlin Vicki Smith of Bay Islands Swordfish Club caught two years ago and it was the largest since Pat Peacock caught a 721.5-pounder in 1962, when the tournament allowed anglers to use 130-pound test line.

It also was by far the largest catch of the day. Arakawa’s was the only marlin brought to the pier, as the others were tagged and released. A handful of ahi were caught and a number of anglers had fish bite but were unable to bring them aboard.

Arakawa’s catch also vaulted her team into the lead after the second day of fishing. Olympian Dream Fishing Club picked up 1,029 points for her efforts, to pull ahead of China Sea Wolf Club, the leader after the first day with 600 points. Laguna Niguel Billfish Club Team 1, Malibu Marlin Club, Whangaroa Sport Fishing Club Team 1, Laguna Niguel Billfish Club Team 3, Team Friends of Kenya, Japan Game Fishing Association-Team Bonita and Old South Marlin Club-Tarheels each have 300 points after two days.

Wednesday’s action will get started a half-hour earlier, beginning at 7 a.m. at Kailua Pier, and end at 4 p.m. The tournament runs through Friday.