Parker’s fish story still growing
IN the world of big-game fishing, there are few names in Hawaii that are more recognizable than the Big Island's Captain George Parker.
But as Water Ways readers seem to have a broad spectrum of boating interests, providing a bit of his background might be appropriate. Parker came from California to Hawaii in 1934, and after obtaining a charter fishing boat license in 1945, became one of the original charter boat operators on the Big Island. Since that time he also gradually became sport fishing's elder statesman.
Over the years, Parker has fished with celebrities ranging from Spencer Tracy and Jimmy Stewart to Sylvester Stallone, but perhaps the defining moment in his life came when he, no doubt, least expected it.
In 1954, while taking his boat, Mona H, from Kona to a Honolulu boatyard for a haul-out, he was just rounding Diamond Head when a giant marlin struck one of his homemade lures.
When the fight was over and Parker boated his huge catch, he took it into Kewalo Basin, where it was officially weighed and photographed. At 1,002 pounds, it became the first "documented" fish over 1,000 pounds to be caught by rod and reel in the U.S. or its territories.
This is not to say other "granders" (fish weighing over 1,000 pounds) had not been caught, just that none had ever been officially weighed and photographed. Still, there was even more to Parker's fish story.
Because sport fishing's regulating body, the International Game Fish Association, did not recognize the existence of a Pacific blue marlin species at that time, Parker was denied the record for his catch.
The IGFA assumed Parker's fish was a black marlin, for which there were bigger catches on record.
And in the days before DNA testing, its decision was somewhat understandable. Proper identification and differentiation between swordfish, sailfish, and black, blue or striped marlin was often unreliable, and particularly in far-flung places like Hawaii.
Parker, however, was not one to back down from a fight -- with fish or ichthyologists (fish scientists) -- and after a nearly five-year battle his catch was finally recognized by the IGFA in 1959 as an "all-tackle and 130-pound-test-line record for Pacific blue marlin."
Because of his personal history and deep involvement with the sport of game fishing, Parker was to be inducted into the IGFA's Fishing Hall of Fame on Oct. 25, but once again, his recognition has been delayed.
This time, instead of fish identification, Parker's celebratory setback can be blamed on Mother Nature. It seems the hurricane named Wilma left the IGFA headquarters in Dania Beach, Fla., without power, phone or Internet service, along with thousands of its neighbors.
Nevertheless, soon Parker will join such notables as Ernest Hemingway and Zane Grey as one of only 60 who have been so honored.