WHAT HAPPENED BACK THEN
First you have to place yourself in the old Lanai club’s restaurant. There at the outside veranda with the live sea turtles swimming in their pool. Several gentlemen are seated around a table. This was the early time of the British invasion for the building of the power plant; there is some loud singing over in the corner by these new expats. The waitress arrives at the table of our gentlemen, she brings the order of Wally’s famous grilled steaks and a round of Oly beer. This is before Bud became “King”.
Here seated we find the newly employed controller of Robert Reimers Enterprises (rre), Mr. Tom Micheals from Guam with Wally Milne and Ramsey Reimers. This is the summer of 1981 and these guys are talking about their fishing trip on Tom’s new Wellcraft boat he’s just brought to the Island.
You see, Tom fell in love with the Marshalls while doing an audit of Robert Reimers Enterprises. During a day off and after a long night on the town with Summer Elkinwor, Tom went fishing with Ramsey Reimers on the old Muumuu. They rounded Enemakij point headed toward Rita and came up on a school of Tuna in a feeding frenzy and birds stretching well into the horizon. They were busily handling in fish with Ramseys brother Ronnie and Godfrey, Ramsey picked this time to mention a job opening at the company.
Back to the dinner table the guys are deep in conversation over their first Marlin catch on rod and reel from the Wellcraft. Tom had insisted on rigging all rods to I.G.F.A. standards. The lures are flown in from Honolulu. They had fished most of the day rounding Majuro. Back then there was no small boat pass. The boat was heading toward the Rong Rong point all rigged with four brand new Penn International TW-80’s and all lines positioned for action.
Hook Up! Hook Up! Marlin ! The Fight…The landing…the fish ??? The lure was as big. They are all laughing at the table now. “You ever see a smaller Marlin?”, “No, lets not tell anyone.” “Yeah, but it’s the first, I know there’s bigger ones out there.” “Hey, I got a buddy who fishes each year in the Hawaiian Invitational Billfish Tournament in Kona. They get some Big ones there.” (The seed just got planted and they didn’t even know it.) “Waitress, Bar joun round.”
This is the 30th year for the Billfish Club. The club actually started the year before in 1981. The four – Tom, Wally, Ramsey, and Ronnie – founded the club in order to get invited to fish in the H.I.B.T. championship tournament. The four had to pay all of their own expenses and recruited some of Tom’s friends from Guam to round out the first team to Kona. o:p>
During this first trip to Kona, the Marshalls Billfish Club won the tournament on a 711 pound Marlin landed by Ramsey Reimers. This fish is still in the top ten for that competition. The press coverage was heavy; rumors spread about this new “Jungle team” from the Marshalls that walked away with all of the major prizes. would they be back? The next year Tom’s 385 pound Marlin on 50lb test line took top honors for the international division. Wally returned again in 1984 and caught four Marlin, one on each of the first four days of the five day tournament.
It was the success of the first trip to Kona that inspired these founders to set up the Annual tournament in July. With the help of the first club members and the work of many volunteers, the first tournament was planned for July 1982. There were two fears in that first tournaments organization. The first was a lack of funds and the second was would anyone fish in the tournament? The group decided to organize a Monte Carlo Nite to raise funds and gauge the fishermens interest. This was the event that the organizers began to solicite the donations from businesses for sponsorship of the club.
Tom Micheals was the Tournament director and also fished in the first tournament. Pat Muno handled the finances and the community came together for what has become the major event of the summer. The governement got behind the club, the local businesses made contributions and obtained help from off island contributors. The event came off beautiful and has bloomed into a National Holiday and a source of enjoyment to hundreds of people each year. The club now boasts over 200 members.
The club is now administered thru a Board of Directors that are elected each year by a vote of the general membership. The seven elected directors are supported by four appointed positions; President, Vice-President, Tournament Director, and Secretary.
Most who are familiar with the club know who the four founders were. They wanted also to acknowledge a couple others who were invloved in the early fishing that led to the club’s formation. These were fishermen that shared time in the Wellcraft and some nights around the Lanai table. They are Godfrey John, and Anton deBrum.
The club would like to thank everyone who has been involved with the club all of the past 30 years. Special thanks to all of those who have done the dock work, the sponsors, the volunteers, the business communities, the Government and everyone who makes the July Fishermen’s Day Tournament so special each summer.
We have come a long way from the Turtle pond and Steak days.