Big blues take cen­ter stage for spring­time bites

West Hawaii Today - - Sports - MARK JOHN­STON CATCH­ING UP

Be­fore I get started, I’d like to let read­ers know that my Catch­ing Up col­umn is now bi-weekly, pub­lish­ing ev­ery other week.

With that said, I’m happy to re­port the off­shore fish­ing has been fan­tas­tic the past cou­ple of weeks. There have been a few days with un­co­op­er­a­tive weather and cur­rents, but over­all the spring­time bite is on and a good time to get out and fish is now.

As on cue, gi­ant blue mar­lin are tak­ing cen­ter stage a month be­fore our sum­mer tour­na­ment sea­son be­gins, premier among them an epic sixand-a-half-hour bat­tle with an enor­mous blue mar­lin oc­curred on the char­ter boat Bom­boy’s Toy.

Three blue mar­lin over 700 pounds have been weighed at the fuel dock, along with two blue mar­lin weigh­ing 594 and 571 pounds, and four blues over 500 pounds were tagged and re­leased.

On top of that, on some days, many boats through­out the fleet have had mul­ti­ple shots at blue mar­lin. Capt. Ja­son Holtz on the Pur­suit, with his 70-year-old fa­ther Mike as crew, went 4-for-4 on blue mar­lin last week.

Ahi, yel­lowfin tuna over 100 pounds, are start­ing to reg­u­larly bite too with many caught while trolling for blue mar­lin. On cer­tain days, short­bill spearfish ap­pear to be ev­ery­where, and many boats have been get­ting two and three spearfish shots a day, some even more.

Also, big beau­ti­ful striped mar­lin are ap­pear­ing in the lure spreads, giv­ing an­glers op­por­tu­ni­ties to catch three dif­fer­ent bill­fish species in a sin­gle day, oth­er­wise known in an­gler ver­nac­u­lar as a “Grand Slam.”

For an­glers in­ter­ested in smaller fish, the ono bite has been mag­nif­i­cent up and down the coast. Mahimahi are often an added bonus while trolling for ei­ther ono or mar­lin.


If you ever char­ter a boat or are new to fish­ing off Kona, it’s worth know­ing that things can hap­pen fast, es­pe­cially when it seems like fish­ing is slow or when bore­dom starts to creep in. When fish­ing the beau­ti­ful waters of West Hawaii, the mantra “any minute now” should al­ways be in the back of your mind, and you never know what you’re go­ing to catch on any given day – just ask an­gler Tony Lee.


Af­ter 2 years, 7 months and 22 days, it fi­nally looked like a blue mar­lin over 1,000 pounds, a grander, was go­ing to tip the scale at Honoko­hau Har­bor.

The gi­gan­tic blue mar­lin had been on for over six hours, and the crew had touched the leader 16 times. It was the brand of fish that makes Kona one of the world’s premier fish­ing des­ti­na­tions.

The well-known vet­eran cap­tain who al­ready has two grander blue mar­lin un­der his belt was cer­tain he had a grander on, and in his words, the sub­ma­rine-sized fish “was over 1,400 pounds.”

An­other epic blue mar­lin bat­tle off Kona was in the mak­ing, and on the 17th time when the leader was in crewmem­bers

hands, six and a half hours into the bat­tle, the leader broke, and it all ended as quickly as it started.

An­gler Tony Lee was fish­ing with Capt. Bom­boy Llanes and deck­hand Ikaika on Bom­boy’s Toy. He had al­ready caught two ono and a spearfish and was not feel­ing too well and de­cided it was time to go in.

As the boat headed back to Honoko­hau Har­bor, in 488 fath­oms off Kaiwi Point, prac­ti­cally a stone’s throw away from the beach, crewmem­ber Ikaika shouted a big mar­lin had just missed one of the lures in the trolling spread. Bom­boy turned to see a huge hole in the wa­ter with a big black shadow slowly fad­ing away into the deep.

The cap­tain turned the 38-foot Ber­tram around to go back over the fish and just when Lee thought he was done for the day, it hap­pened. Up from the depths rose an enor­mous blue mar­lin.

“The base of its dor­sal fin looked to be four to five inches thick,” Bom­boy said, “and its bill looked like a log.”

The cap­tain knew right away he was look­ing at a grander and was happy to see the mag­nif­i­cent fish in­hale the He­molele lure fished on the long corner that was made by his fa­ther.

Sur­pris­ingly, the mon­ster fish only ran about 100 yards and never jumped un­til 20 min­utes into the bat­tle, even­tu­ally jump­ing four times to­tal over the en­tire time it was hooked.

Af­ter an hour, the leader was in Ikaika’s hand, with Bom­boy try­ing to run the boat and be the gaff man at the same time. By the time Bom­boy got back to gaff the su­per-sized mar­lin, it was just out of reach.

Af­ter­ward, the fish found its happy place for the next five and a half hours, swim­ming about 40-feet be­hind the boat — its mas­sive head and log-like bill point­ing in the di­rec­tion away from the boat.

When Ikaika would grab the leader, he could not turn the fish around to­wards the boat, and the gi­ant fish would sim­ply wave its pow­er­ful tail a few times and swim back to its happy place.

Bom­boy’s son, Bran­don – who is also a cap­tain — was fish­ing nearby, and soon he was on the boat with his fa­ther, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the same chal­lenges Ikaika faced with the de­ter­mined mas­sive blue.

Af­ter four hours, Lee was ex­hausted from bat­tling the be­he­moth. He ran up the white flag and sur­ren­dered the rod to the crew and left the fight­ing chair. The stout rod was placed in the rod holder, Ikaika and Bran­don took turns reel­ing on the gi­ant blue get­ting it to the heavy monofil­a­ment leader.

With no suc­cess get­ting the mar­lin within gaffing range, more help ar­rived when Ronnie Llanes dropped off Kenny Boy Llanes and Kevin Gal­lager to help with Bom­boy’s beast. With four ex­pe­ri­enced crew mem­bers on board, it looked like the mon­ster fish would be boated.

Af­ter 16 times with the fish on the leader, but never within gaffing range, the crew de­cided to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. On the 17th at­tempt, Bran­don, Kenny Boy, and Kevin all got in­volved grab­bing the leader.

Hop­ing that if each per­son could just get a hand­ful of leader they might get the grander close enough to gaff. With all three han­dling the leader, it broke, and it was over as fast as it started. The tena­cious blue mar­lin won the bat­tle and swam off.

Even though the fish got away, con­grat­u­la­tions to all in­volved, what a me­morable day, and a prime ex­am­ple that you never know what’s go­ing to hap­pen when you fish off Kona. There is a rea­son Kona is called “Juras­sic Park” and “The Land of the Gi­ants.”


Regina Far­ish likes to snorkel and fish to cel­e­brate her birth­day. Last year she cel­e­brated by snor­kel­ing and fish­ing on the Kona Blue. She told her friends that day that she would be out on the char­ter un­til about 1 p.m., but not to make plans for her in the af­ter­noon be­cause if they hooked up into a big fish at ten min­utes be­fore 1 o’clock, “they would be fight­ing that fish.”

Fol­low­ing the theme of things can hap­pen fast in Kona, in pure Kona fash­ion, they hooked up to a big blue mar­lin at 12:50 pm and her hus­band Ma­son ended up catch­ing his largest blue mar­lin ever, weigh­ing in at 541 pounds.

Regina had so much fun last year, it was de­cided an­other birth­day snorkel trip was in or­der this year as part of her birth­day cel­e­bra­tion. They char­tered the Ihu Nui II with Capt. Tony Clark and crew Darren Cas­toro and looked for­ward to a fun day on the wa­ter.

Af­ter the Ihu Nui II left Honoko­hau Har­bor, Regina, Ma­son, Vic­to­ria Boes, Kirk Her­ing and Sharon Her­ing fished for ono for a while, had a great time snor­kel­ing, ate lunch, and then put out the big fish­ing lures for the trip back to har­bor. Just like they did the year be­fore.

Regina told ev­ery­one the story about what hap­pened last year and lo and be­hold, one year and one day later to the minute at 12:50 p.m. they hooked into a huge blue mar­lin.

This year’s mar­lin looked to be even big­ger than Ma­son’s 541-pounder he caught pre­vi­ously, and af­ter a 45 minute bat­tle, they boated the mar­lin that must have been meant to be.

The mas­sive mar­lin was so big and fat, it took four men to slide it through the tuna door, and they had to re­move the fight­ing chair for it to fit in the 40-foot boat. The gi­ant blue tipped the scale at 708.5 pounds, a new per­sonal best for Far­ish.

Back at the dock af­ter the fish was weighed Capt. Clark was greas­ing up the bolts be­fore putting the fight­ing chair back to­gether.

“I hope you have to take that chair off again real soon”Ma­son said.

Clark replied, “Me too, that’s why I’m greas­ing it up!”

Seems like both Regina and her hus­band got their share of gifts on her birth­day. Regina said with a smile, “I kinda like th­ese birth­day snorkel trips!”


I don’t have much in­for­ma­tion on this par­tic­u­lar catch but con­grat­u­la­tions to an­gler Drew Sol­monson and Capt. Ja­son Hurst on the Tee Anns for catch­ing a 757-pound blue mar­lin on April 20. The mon­ster blue was caught near the OTEC buoy af­ter a four-hour bat­tle.


Con­grat­u­la­tions to an­gler Shawn Gaunt for catch­ing an­other su­per­sized 742-pound blue mar­lin fish­ing with Capt. Kevin Naka­maru and crewmem­ber Ben­der on the North­ern Lights. The big blue ate a Koya bul­let fished on the short rig­ger. Naka­mura said the 742-pounder had a mar­lin bill stuck through its stom­ach 12 inches into its back from the ab­domen out.

More ev­i­dence that big blue mar­lin have hearty ap­petites and eat other bill­fish too.


The char­ter clients who fished with Capt. Rob El­lyn and crew Greg Hop­kins on the Lightspeed caught enough fish to open a small seafood mar­ket the other day. Af­ter an amaz­ing full day char­ter, the happy an­glers ended up catch­ing three of four over 100-pound ahi while trolling, a spearfish, two mahimahi and two ono. To round out the day they jumped off a small blue mar­lin too.


Con­grat­u­la­tions to Ben God­sey for mak­ing the Big-Fish List by catch­ing a 103.5-pound sailfish fish­ing with Capt. David Crawford on the Kona Blue. That’s a big sailfish!

See for your­self what the lo­cal boats are catch­ing by vis­it­ing or fol­low­ing our Face­book page “Kona Fish Re­port” and if you think you have an in­ter­est­ing off­shore, bot­tom or shore fish­ing story, please email: markjohn­ston­catchin­gup@gmail. com or jde­g­roote@ west­hawai­ito­


Bom­boy's Toy at­tempts to reel in a blue mar­lin es­ti­mated at 1,400 pounds.

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