Looking Pro: 2013 Makahiki Rec division champion Jesse Wright wrangles a sail

Looking Pro: 2013 Makahiki Rec division champion Jesse Wright wrangles a sail. Photo: Jesse Wright.

Mo’ Makahiki: Rec[ing] Crew’s Jesse Wright Steps it Up
Army Strong angler punches his ticket to the Makahiki big leagues
By Paul Lebowitz

Hawaii’s eight-month marathon grinder of a fishing tournament known as the Aquahunters.com Makahiki has two divisions: Pro and Recreational. All of the glory goes to the Pro’s name competitors, guys such as Andy Cho and 2013 champ Chris Paglinawan. Don’t be fooled. The Rec crew is pushing hard. The top competitors are all looking for the call-up to the big leagues.

Jesse Wright is one of those ticket punchers. The winner of the 2013 Makahiki Rec division turned heads with a performance that rivaled some on the Pro side. That includes Mr. Makahiki himself, Isaac Brumaghim, owner and creator of the series.

“Many guys have come up quick. Right now there are three in the Rec that scored close to 800, 900 points. I got like 800-something out of 22 days. A lot more people are catching fish consistently,” Brumaghim says.

Wright enjoyed some amazing days on the way to his 2013 Rec Division win. “My second day back in February I landed a 13-pound uku, an 18-pound yellowfin and a 80-pound sailfish. I felt like i was paddling a German U-boat on the way back to the beach,” he says. It must have been a strange sensation. Wright is a ten-year Army veteran, not a sailor.

RELATED: Chris Paglinawan Outlasts Andy Cho For Prestigious Makahiki Pro Title

“I’m just grateful to fish here. Honestly I have some mixed feelings about winning. I’ve only lived in Hawaii for 21 months and I think there are others who have competed since the beginning that have put more time in and deserve it more then me,” Wright says modestly.

Wright grew up fishing the shallow coastal waters of North Carolina, where he first caught on to kayak fishing. “I had no idea how different it would be,” he says of coming to Hawaii. “Back in North Carolina 50 feet was supper deep. Here it is not uncommon to be in over 1000 feet.”

Brumaghim says the new blood coming up is a good thing. “This coming season we're going to have the best Pro division we've ever had. They are so dedicated. Everything is Makahiki all the time.”