Bets, Boats and Sashimi
Originally published in a company newsletter

In Hawaii, fish are a valuable commodity around the New Year. Sashimi (or prepared raw fish) is a traditional part of the New Year's Day feast, and good fillets sell for as much as $30 per pound in the fishmarkets.

That's part of the reason why four fellow engineers ventured on a fishing expedition this past New Year's Eve (1992). The other reason was that it was a holiday, and a good excuse to get out of the house.

The adventurous sportsmen included: Jimmy "Dull Fishhooks" Lam, Bert "Dramamine" Nakagawa, Mark "Portagee" Ignacio and Wade "Last Resort Crew" Yamamoto. Bert rode on Jimmy's sampan and Wade accompanied Mark on his P14 boat.

They left Hickam harbor before dawn and headed southwest towards the fishing grounds. The ocean was as smooth as glass, and the wind almost nonexistent.

A few minutes out, Mark contacted Jimmy on his CB and challenged, "Whoever gets the first strike, the other boat has to buy lunch."

"Waitaminute!" argued Jimmy, "It doesn't count unless it's in the boat, and it has to be over ten pounds. The first big fish in the boat wins lunch."

So the bet was established, the lines were down and the boats were running at trolling speed. They were only a few of miles outside of Barber's Point when the action began.

"HANAPA'A*, DOUBLE STRIKE!" yelled Mark, as he grabbed one of his arcing poles and tried to set the hook. In the meantime, Wade fumbled for the other pole, its line screaming out in distress.

Unfortunately for Mark, his line suddenly went slack--the fish was gone. But Wade's fish was on rock solid, and fighting like mad.

"Come around with your boat!" Mark frantically relayed to Jimmy. "The other one might still be around!"

So Jimmy and Bert turned back and started circling Mark's boat, in hopes of catching the lost fish. Meanwhile Wade was playing "American Sportsman" with Mark's rod and reel, bobbing up and down, and taking line in whenever the fish allowed.

"I think it's a marlin," commented Mark. "It's staying really close to the surface."

As Jimmy piloted his boat around Mark's P14, Bert asked, "Aren't we a little close to Mark's boat?"

"Nah," Jimmy replied, "There's plenty of room."

So the battle raged on for a good fifteen minutes. Mark's boat was in low throttle while he and Wade struggled against the fish. All the while, Jimmy and Bert hovered nearby, coaching their lucky friends while trying to catch one of their own.

Soon Mark noticed something really strange. His boat seemed to be following Jimmy's boat. Could it be that they were somehow connected?

"Hey Jimmy," Mark yelled. "I think you #$@* guys ran over our line!"

Fearing the worst, Jimmy immediately killed his engine and started groping in the water with his gaff, trying to see if Mark's line was under his boat. To his horror, he found the line tangled around the engine. Mark and Wade had been fighting Jimmy's boat!

Though momentarily stunned, Jimmy quickly realized there was still tension on BOTH sides of the line. Jimmy's boat did not cut the fish off Mark's line. The fish was still on!

"Get the gloves, the gloves!" Jimmy yelled, as Bert searched the boat in vain. Jimmy finally got them himself, then methodically hand-lined the fish in. In the meantime, Bert eagerly waited in the batter's box, ready to stun it.

Slowly gliding up from the depths was a shimmering form about six feet in length. It was a striped marlin, maybe 70 pounds, exhausted from being dragged around by Jimmy's boat. After a brief struggle, Jimmy and Bert hauled the first fish of the day onto THEIR boat.

Later that morning, Jimmy and Bert managed to catch another marlin. This one was a bit bigger at 90 pounds (over 100 after some lead was stuffed down its throat!). They caught it in a more conventional manner, using their OWN rod and reel.

Mark and Wade on the other hand, never got another nibble. They headed home with a cooler full of melted ice.

Both fishing parties returned to port at noon. The boats were cleaned, the fish divvied amongst the four of them, and the great fishermen were back to their families in time to pop firecrackers.

For Jimmy these were the first marlins landed on his boat. For Mark, it WOULD HAVE been his first.

So who won the bet? After a week of arguing in the office, Jimmy and Bert finally gave in and bought lunch. To this day, however, Jimmy and Bert still contend that they won.

As for the fish, well there was plenty to go around for everyone. Some of it even got to the office. Good fish story, good sashimi and a good way to bring in the new year.

Wade, marlin #1, Mark, Jimmy, Marlin #2, Bert
after fishing, before lunch

* Hanapa'a is the Hawaiian expression for hookup (fish on the line).