Big blues take center stage for springtime bites
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.
THINGS CAN HAPPEN FAST
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.”
BIRTHDAY DEJA VU
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!”
TEE ANNS GETS BIGGEST FISH HONORS
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.
BIG BLUE ON THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
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.
BUSY DAY ON THE LIGHTSPEED
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@ westhawaiitoday.com-
Bomboy's Toy attempts to reel in a blue marlin estimated at 1,400 pounds.