When Isaac Brumaghim, the founder of the Hawaiian Aquahunters crew of kayak anglers, reflects on the 2009 fishing season he remembers trophy fish, dozens of great days on the water and, most of all, a powerful sense of camaraderie, pride and anticipation for the future. This past summer, Brumaghim organized the second annual Makahiki Tournament, in which anglers amass 40 days of fishing in an eight-month-long, total-points event. Brumaghim, an Oahu-local, placed third of 38 competitors in the 2009 Makahiki; Big Island brothers Andy and Steve Cho, who finished one-two for the second year running.

Part of Brumaghim’s goal in touting kayak angling in the Hawaiian Islands is to revive the ancient Polynesian skills of small-boat fishing. “People think that kayak fishing is totally new and extreme, but Hawaiian people have been fishing this way for thousands of years,” he says. “We are all He Waa Kalawai’a or ‘canoe fishermen.’” Thanks to Brumaghim passion for kayak angling and his popular aquahunters.com website, Hawaii is gaining worldwide recognition for trophy marlin, wahoo, mahimahi, barracuda and tuna.

For 2010, Brumaghim has even bigger plans: By introducing a new 25-day amateur division to the Makahiki, he hopes to create a “developmental league” for up-and-coming kayak anglers; and for the pro division, Brumaghim says he plans to up the ante with a $2,500 purse. “With two different divisions and money on the line, man, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he says, “but we’ve also got a lot of fun fishing to do as well.” Meanwhile, Brumaghim pledges that the Aquahunters will continue in their mission to make Hawaii the world’s biggest venue for kayak fishing—through big catches and a serious dose of respect for the sea. “We’re striving for a big stage,” he says. “But as much fun as it is to catch fish, there’s a whole bigger thing that Aquahunters represents and that’s being a solid waterman from top to bottom—being seen as skillful, admirable, respectful stewards of the sea and Hawaii’s fishing culture. We’re so lucky to have that in all the competitors in the Makahiki.” – Conor Mihell