The trolling bite is still doing real good in Kona with a mix of striped marlin, spearfish and mahi mahi. There have even been a few blue marlin around with one coming in this month just 22 lbs. short of the “grander” mark. While the blue marlin are generally solitary critters, striped marlin swim in schools so many of us are experiencing double, triple and even quadruple hook-ups.
There are some ono being caught also even though it’s not really season for them and one of the stranger catches is “blind strike” yellowfin tuna. Yellowfin tuna will be the main focus of my report this month. You can catch yellowfin tuna in Hawaii year-round with the peak season of the 100+ pounders in the summer time. In the summer you can expect blind strikes from yellowfin tuna but in the winter, a blind strike (until recently) has been almost unheard of. In the winter you would generally need to be fishing a porpoise school to score a big yellowfin but that’s changing. Not only have the past several summers been really good for big yellowfin here but so have the winters. So, what might be the reason for such an increase in the fish supply? I have a theory.
Big commercial fishing vessels are limited by the number of fish they can hold. Then it’s back to port to gear up for another trip. In the past 10 years a newer method has developed to take even more tuna from the ocean. The now popular method is to surround a whole tuna school with a huge net and drag the whole school closer to whatever continent you come from and then over a period of time, pull the fish out. This method has a high mortality rate and also produces skinny fish because of the lack of food. It sounds absolutely awful and you would think that a continuance of this type of fishing practice would wipe out the tuna industry in a short period of time but in reality, the opposite is happening. Why? Here’s my theory: The tuna are in very close proximity. They’re stressed out because of the confinement and as a result, they’re breeding at an accelerated rate. Sperm and eggs are flying everywhere. With the closer proximity, more eggs are being fertilized than would normally happen in the wild. The now fertilized eggs drift right on through the net and more yellowfin tuna are being produced as a direct result of the confinement. Of course I don’t have any proof of my theory but it sounds like it makes sense. I’ve run this theory by several fishermen here and it generally gets the yes nod.
The bottom bite is, as usual the best guarantee of a successful fishing trip. It’s nice having a good trolling bite happening at the same time so I haven’t had to rely on the bottom bite as much. In my January report I mentioned that I had caught more giant trevally (GT) in the previous 6 months than I had in the previous 10 years combined and that trend is continuing. Is someone netting and confining these fish also? No. The tag and release of GT’s has gained in popularity so that has some to do with it but at the same time, the kampachi fish farm just offshore of the Kona airport has become a very popular spot for GT’s to hang out. They are a common site around the nets because the nets are also providing structure for a fish called opelu, a favorite food of the GT and they’ve both been camping out around the fish pens for some years now. Opelu populations rely on underwater structure to congregate so the more structure the better. Again, close proximity of a big population of fish produces even more fish so I’ll stretch my theory even further and say that it’s also helping the GT populations. I have no proof of it but the increase of yellowfin tuna and GT populations in Kona has to be due to something.