Angler finds his true passion on the sea

A recreational angler from San Francisco with no prior tournament experience out-fished the big guns at the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament in Mexico.

Receiving the “cold shoulder” from elite competitors while stunning the field of 36 crews in the annual mid-October contest, Robert Maiolo, together with his mates aboard his boat High Risk, won two of the nine award categories.

“Right out of the chute we rocked,” boasted the Parkside resident and owner of Friendly Plumber in The City.
Maiolo’s shipmate and fellow friendly plumber, Jorge Jain, reeled in a 52.1-pound wahoo within the first hours of the three-day tournament. Despite fierce competition from the other boats, the weight held by 7 ounces over the second-place finisher, and the tourney rookies set the tournament record for largest wahoo and captured the $8,695 category prize.

Competitive fishing may be a recent catch for Maiolo, but he pulled in his first fish at the age of 4 or 5 in his native Waterbury, Conn.

“I was seasick bouncing around the boat,” Maiolo said. “My father, brother and godfather distracted me by putting a fish on a hook and having me reel it in.”

It was two years ago that Maiolo first contemplated plying his angling skills in a tournament.

“It was just incredible,” Maiolo said recalling that vacation in Puerto Vallarta with Rhodora, his wife of 13 years. “I caught a marlin, three dorado and a tuna.”

Rhodora saw the elation in her husband’s face as he posed with the catch.

“You’ve found something that makes you happy; go for it,” she encouraged.

The couple had battled Rhodora’s cancer for several years when she died in March.

Maiolo, alone at the age of 42, felt the presence of his wife in Los Cabos.

“The first day there, the sky was an old rose colored sunrise. It was incredible. She was there. It was pretty special,” he said.

The strategizing has already begun for 2011. At next year’s Los Cabos Billfish, the crew will fly their San Francisco and company banners atop a boat named Friendly Plumber. Catch and release categories will be the preferred
competition. 

“I like that side of it, because there’s no reason to kill the big fish,” said the man who as a kid would shoot at fish with his buddies in the ponds of Waterbury. “When you see the beauty, you release these animals so that they can live to fight another day.”

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