By Wendy Osher
An estimated 600 keiki participated in the 5th annual Keiki Tilapia Fishing Tournament, held Sunday at the Kāʻanapali Golf Course Pond in West Maui.
About 40 minutes into the tournament, Makanani Kahaialii reeled in a carp that was too big for the tournament scales, and possibly the largest fish ever caught in the tournament. She returned the fish to the pond and took home one of three prizes awarded for the Surprise Catch of the Day.
Other Surprise Catch winners were Taven Vasquez who also caught a carp, and Kalena Aguirre who caught an āholehole.
The special catch category included the first non-tilapia, non-cichlid, non-guppy to be registered at each weigh station, determined by weigh-in time.
Keanu Ferguson, who competed in the 6-12 year old division caught the biggest tilapia of the day, weighing 430 grams. When asked what he used as bait, Keanu said his secret was Spam.
Other keiki fishers said they used worms, shrimp to reel in their winning catch.
The prizes for biggest tilapia in the category for the youngest competitors (2-5 year olds) were: (1) Treven Cabanilla, 315 g; (2) Kawika Ho, 304 g; and (3) Justice Gonsalves 216 g.
Prizes for biggest tilapia caught by 6-12 year olds were issued to: (1) Keanu Ferguson, 430 g; (2) Ethan Grant, 181 g; and (3) Kona Rodrigues, 169 g.
Winners in the teenage category for competitors between the age of 13 and 18 were issued to: (1) Koa Kualaau-Abbey, 163 g; (2) Gabriel Wallace, 149 g; and (3) Camryn Sato, 140 g.
Winners in the Smallest Fish category each reeled in tilapia weighing a gram or less including: Keanu Fujimoto (2-5 year old); Kahiau Teruya (6-12 year old); and Michael Means (13-18 year old).
The Labor Day weekend event is hosted by Maui Electric Company, with proceeds benefiting the non-profit Maui United Way and the many health and human service partner agencies it serves.
MECO officials say the event alone has raised more than $50,000 for Maui United Way. Company officials called it a fun way to spend time with the family, teach kids how to fish, and give back to the community at the same time.