Bill Coombs is 81, but the Australian proved this week that age is not a factor when he competed in the 32nd Hawaiian International billfish tournament off Kailua-Kona.
Coombs caught a 592-pound blue marlin Monday, putting his Gamefish Club of South Australia into the lead after the first day of the event.
The three-man team was reduced to two before competition began when one member, Ron Johnson, suffered broken his ribs in an accident. And Coombs was fishing alone Tuesday after his other teammate, John Johnston, lost part of a thumb when it got caught in a rope while the crew was hauling Coombs' fish aboard Monday. Johnston was treated and released at the Kona Hospital emergency room.
"Billy's out there battling the ocean alone," Johnston said Tuesday from his hotel room at the King Kamehameha Hotel. "I don't know whether I'll do any fishing tomorrow, but I'll certainly be out there . . . appraising the situation."
Said Hal Wood, in charge of public relations for the event: "This is a contact sport."
Wood said that the tournament director, Roy Morioka, was slightly injured Monday when a chain from a hoist fell on his head.
"He said he got a puka in the head," Wood said. Puka is Hawaiian for hole.
Last year, Peter Goadby of Australia suffered broken legs when he fell off a cliff while taking a picture on the final day of the tournament. He is back this year as chief judge, serving from a wheelchair.
With 100 bonus points each for the day's biggest fish and for a fish of more than 500 pounds, and a 33% bonus because he was using 50-pound line, Coombs' club earned 989 points.
A total of 19 marlin and five ahi , or yellowfin tuna, were caught Monday. The yellowfin, caught by Carlos Valenzuela of Guatemala's Club Nautico, took five hours to bring in and weighed 153 pounds.
Nine marlin had been boated by Tuesday afternoon but the day's final results were not immediately available. Friday is the last day of the 85-team tournament.
The California Fish and Game Commission will meet in special session today to adopt regulations for the dove and band-tailed pigeon seasons.
Two anti-hunting groups, Fund for Animals and Animal Legal Defense Fund, were successful in stopping archery hunting of bears two weeks ago and have filed comments in opposition to the proposed migratory bird hunting regulations. They can challenge Fish and Game's environmental document under terms of the California Environmental Quality Act.
The dove hunt, popular among California hunters, would start Sept. 1--time enough, both sides say, for all of the legal exercises to be performed either to save it or sack it. But if there is a hunt, experts say, it should be a good one.
David Whiteside, who runs the private Antelope Valley Sportsmen's Club, said: "There's more doves than I've seen in seven to 10 years."