Llego takes Libres tako crown with near-record catch

Jandon Llego poked the second-biggest tako in the 27 years of the Larry Libres Fishing and Diving Tournament on Saturday at Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului, and became the youngest winner of the event.

Llego’s 7-pound, 10-ounce catch – almost as long as the 13-year-old Kamehameha Schools 7th-grader is tall – was easily the biggest of the 77 tako that were weighed by the field of 306 divers.

Llego, whose octopus was three ounces shy of Richard Acain’s record, set in 2000, was diving with his uncle Sean Hashizaki, the son of 1991 winner Gary Hashizaki.

“We were about 50 yards out, and I pointed to the hole,” Hashizaki said. “Jandon was right next to me, about two feet from me.”

Llego said: “I poked my three-prong inside the hole. He gave us a fight. We both had to stick our three-prongs into the hole. It took about five minutes to get him out.”

Hashizaki said: “I let him use my three-prong, he used both and got it out himself.”

Brad DeRego took the early lead in the Maui Boardsailing Association-sponsored event, placing his 3-pound, 15-ounce tako on the scale 47 minutes after the 8 a.m. start.

About 30 minutes later, Devin Arieta weighed a 4-pound, 13-ounce octopus while his brother and diving partner, Jason, had a 4-pound, 9 1/2-ounce catch. Devin Arieta finished eighth and his brother 10th with a catch that would have won last year’s tournament.

“We walked down past the lifeguard shack, went out in front of the stone house,” Devin Arieta said. “We went out against the current. We saw more holes, choke holes were empty before we found these.”

Twelve minutes after the Arietas left the scale, Llego arrived – both he and his tako were covered with sand. Contest officials had him wash off his catch before weighing in.

Eugene Vierra was second with a 5-pound, 10-ounce catch. Vierra won in 2012 with what had been, until Saturday, the second-biggest tako in tournament history.

“I was way out, the farthest guy,” Vierra said. “I was way the hell out in the flats. I was on a mission.”

Keike Acain, a niece of Richard Acain, was the top female finisher, placing ninth with a 4-pound, 12-ounce catch. The 21-year-old flew out later in the day to Oregon for her senior year at Linfield College.

“I feel great, especially since so many people didn’t come out with tako at all,” Acain said. “When I got it, I was thinking maybe a hard rub, possibly. But girls can do it too.”

In a battle of former oama champions, Kurt Nemoto edged Dylan Gomes in the 13-and-over division. Nemoto’s winner measured 16.9 centimeters, 0.2 better than Gomes’ catch.

“We do this as family, fishing for oama every summer,” Nemoto said. “We went up to second bay. They’ve just been biting up there better.”

Kamalu Reyes finished first in the 12-and-under division with a 16.6-centimeter catch.

The 13-and-over competition had 215 entrants, while the 12-and-under had 107.