January has been a good month overall for trolling. The spearfish are still in abundance and if youíre looking for some good fish to eat, it doesnít get much better than fresh spearfish. The mahi mahi bite was good all month too and thatís a bit unusual for January but I donít hear anyone complaining. Also during this month, yellowfin tuna of all sizes showed up. The small bait size yellowfin are a common winter catch here especially on the FAD (fish aggregation device) buoys and F buoy was even producing 20+ pounders for a while. Other 20+ pounders were being caught in the blind and in the current lines. As for the 100+ size yellowfin tuna, theyíre here too. Working the porpoise schools has been very profitable for the boats using the more commercial type methods for catching them. There are different baiting methods and the ďgreen stickĒ method but just trolling lures through the school hasnít been getting too many bites.
Normally I open my monthly reports talking about the marlin bite but thereís not really much of a catch to report on. The striped marlin bite picked up just a little bit this month and went from a average of about four per week to a few a day coming in on some days. There were a few ďbeastĒ (over 500) blue marlins caught, typical for any month of the year in Kona but most of the (few) blues being caught right now are babies under 100 lbs. that havenít even grown their noses yet. Some people who donít know how to tell the difference between a blue and a striped (many donít) are actually thinking that the small blues are striped marlin. Bill proportions, stripe density and white belly shade are just a few ways to distinguish between the two but the ultimate test is the dorsal fin. The size of the dorsal fin in proportion to the body is yet another clue with the striped marlin having a larger fin in proportion to itís body but as with the previously mentioned signs, these are all comparative differences. A hard way for the untrained eye to tell. The most distinguishing characteristic and sure-fire way to tell is that on a striped marlin, the first dorsal fin bone is flexible and on a blue marlin, itís not.
I always like to wrap up the wrap-up with the bottom fishing report. Itís usually where most of the action and unusual catches are. Winter is a peak time for bottom fishing but itís also the season when Hawaii gets its roughest sea conditions. Watching the news this morning, I see that even the Hawaii Super Ferry is docked due to rough sea conditions. Kona is unique in that the huge mountains protect us from those sea conditions but the most productive bottom fishing grounds to the North of the harbor are less protected and as a result, I wasnít able to fish the good bottom grounds for most of the month. When forced to go South, I pray for a good trolling bite because the bottom spots are few, far between and usually not as productive. The up side to that is the water is flat like a lake almost every day. The flat sea conditions also make fighting a fish easier. It also helps if you got a marlin up next to the boat and youíre grabbing at it trying to see if itís first dorsal fin bone is bendable.
See Ďya on the water ,
Capt. Jeff Rogers ,