So maybe I should stay out of the fish prediction business. Last month I predicted that there wouldn’t be a large number of marlin caught in the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament but there would be a good number of big ones weighed in. I was right about the big ones but gladly I was somewhat wrong about the total number of marlin caught. There was indeed a fair number of small marlin in the 100 to 200 lb. range caught and released this year. Not as many as last year, in fact, the total number of fish caught this year was a little less than ½ of what was caught last year but I was expecting a more dismal outcome based on what was being caught right before the tournament. Out of the 31 teams that participated, only 3 didn’t catch during the 5 day tournament. The number of teams participating this year was lower too.
The big news in the tournament this year wasn’t just the big mama marlins that were weighed in but that the press boat was attacked (yes, attacked!) by a big marlin. Fisherman, photographer and a friend of mine Jon Schwartz who has fished with me several times in Kona, has also been an official photographer for the H.I.B.T. two years in a row. He got some great shots of the attacking fish. Last year after the tournament was over Jon fished with me a few days where I put him in the water to photograph a spearfish, a marlin and a shark! The spearfish shots were in February’s issue of Marlin Magazine. We also went swimming in the Kona Kampachi fish pens but the story that goes with those photos hasn’t been released yet. Jon Schwartz has a fantastic web site, bluewaterjon.com where he has several stories, blogs and magazine articles that he has published about his adventures including the story of the attacking marlin.
The mahi mahi run has pretty much stopped which is typical for this time of year but the ono bite should have been at a peak this month. There are a few coming in but basically the run is over for now. I say “for now” because we can easily get another run at any time, even in the off season. The “blind strike” yellowfin tuna bite remains good with even more being caught in the porpoise schools. A trip in the porpoise school last week I deployed my mini Green Stick rig and got bit within 10 minutes. The ahi (Hawaiian for yellowfin) didn’t stick and the strike was so hard it broke my gear. I had to order a part and it just arrived so I’ll be back in action with it next week. Yesterday via “blind strike”, I got a 147 ahi.
The bottom bite remains HOT and it’s the easiest way to catch several fish per trip. A combination of GT, amberjacks and sharks are quick to gobble down the small skipjack tuna that are all over the ledge just outside the airport, a short distance from the harbor. While the trolling bite is pretty good right now, as 3 teams in the H.I.B.T. found out, there’s no guarantee of catching anything on the troll even with 5 days of fishing. A combination of both trolling and bottom fishing breaks up the day with exciting new prospects but be advised that there are only a few of us here that do it. There are a couple of charter boats here that advertise bottom fishing on their web sites and while they say that they do it, I almost never see them on the bottom fishing grounds actually doing it. What I hear from people who have been on these trips is that on the day of the charter, they are told that the bottom bite isn’t any good right now even though it actually is. Just a “buyer beware” note for those that really want to be assured of a catch while in Kona.
See ‘ya on the water ,
Capt. Jeff Rogers ,