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Looking back at 25 years with the Lahaina News

By Staff | Sep 2, 2010

Heading off to college in a few days, and wanting to do a few things she hadn’t done yet, Catherine “Kaki” Whattam went fishing for the first time. She was aboard the Kamalani with Capt. Randy Kinores and dad Erin (pictured with Kaki), catching a nice, 30-pound ono.

LAHAINA — Aug. 21 was the 25th anniversary of my first “At the Harbor” monthly fishing column in 1985 for the Lahaina News.

I first started out back in 1983 doing freelance photo work when Bob Kelsey owned the Lahaina News. I hooked up with Mike Warner of Deluxe Productions, who was doing a music column for the paper, and started doing the music photos for him. I had done music promotion in Santa Barbara, California, being the concert photographer for the Santa Barbara County Bowl from 1976 until 1983.

Bill and Nancy Worth took over the paper in early 1984. Mike and I continued doing the music scene on Maui after the transition. We were there when the Blue Max closed in June 1984.

Bill loved music, and Mike’s column, so he sent Mike and me to Oahu for the Police concert at Aloha Stadium at the end of February. At the time, the Police concert was the largest ever held in Hawaii, with 31,653 people packing the stadium.

 I was one of only six photographers permitted to photograph the show, and I was only allowed to shoot the first four songs. The Lahaina News was the only newspaper in the state to have photo coverage of the concert. The March 7, 1984 edition was my first cover photo of Sting. Bill also gave Mike and me a special three-page section in the paper on the concert. Stevie Ray Vaughn, Brian Adams and Double Trouble were also on the bill.

Another great show was Tina Turner’s 1986 New Year’s Eve concert at the NBC Arena on Oahu. I was one of only three photographers allowed to shoot the show — and for only the first 15 minutes. Again, the Lahaina News was the only newspaper in the state to have photo coverage of the concert.

With Bill wanting to expand his readership, I talked him into trying a “Harbor Report.” I had been fishing part-time out of Lahaina Harbor since 1978 and was doing the harbor fishing photos full-time in 1983. In 1984, I started doing an occasional “Special to Lahaina News” fishing column, covering the notable catches in the harbor during the following months. This led up to my “At the Harbor” monthly column in 1985.

Gary Kubota took over as editor the first part of 1989. I continued my monthly and “special” fishing columns, and on Oct. 25, I began writing my weekly column.

One of my dreams, as with all fishermen, was to photograph a “Grander,” a marlin weighing 1,000 pounds. The first chance at an almost-grander was during the April 1990 Lahaina Yacht Club Spring Wahine Tournament, when Capt. Rick Medenwald aboard the Exact brought in a 955-pound fish by Linda Ciletti. To this day, it is still the largest marlin ever weighed by a wahine angler for Maui County. Just ten days later, Capt. Dave Hudson aboard the Pailolo weighed a 937.6-pound fish by Gary Ellis. Both fish were so close, but still no grander.

It wasn’t until the 1993 Lahaina Jackpot Tournament when I finally got my wish. The Cormorant from Oahu with Capt. Bruce Matson brought in a beast weighing 1,201.8 pounds by Doug Jorgensen. This marlin is the largest to win the Lahaina Jackpot Tournament. It also stands as the largest marlin ever officially weighed in Maui County.

The largest “Grander” weighed by a Lahaina Harbor Charter Sportfishing boat was in August of 2002, when Capt. Jeff Kahl brought in a 1,118.0-pound marlin aboard the Reel Hooker by Reese Randell. It is also a Maui County Charter Sportfishing boat record.

Doing some rough estimations, I figure I have written at least 1,100 fishing columns since 1984. I love photojournalism. I haven’t gotten rich doing it, but I have enjoyed every minute of it, learned a lot, and made a lot of longtime friends along the way.

I have always said, when the time comes when I don’t get excited photographing and writing about fishing, then it’s time to retire and get a job as a greeter at Wal-Mart.