Hawaii Fishing Report

« Back to all Hawaii reports
Share this report

Big Stripe and Amberjack in Kona Fishing Report - April 15, 2015

Date of trip: April 15, 2015
Posted April 15, 2015 by FishTrack Member
  • Duke Kiriu with a 111-pound amberjack. Photo courtesy of The Charter Desk. 1 of 2
  • Jody Pintar caught this 142-pound striped marlin on Linda Sue IV with Capt. Jeff Heintz. It ties for Kona's biggest stripe of the year to date. ? Photo courtesy of The Charter Desk. ? 2 of 2
The charterboat Linda Sue IV is back on top of the striped marlin lead on our Big-Fish List for 2015. Capt. Jeff Heintz and his crew, Mike Kabus had staked an early claim back in February with a 109-pound “stripe,” but that was sure to be topped. The bar got raised bit-by-bit and then jumped to 141.5 pounds two weeks ago when Capt. Rocky Gauron brought Hooked Up in with the new leader. At 142 pounds, Jeff’s latest “stripe” is just a few ounces bigger than Rocky’s so we’ll call them a tie until someone tops them both by a pound or more.

On Friday, Jeff and Mike had Jody Pintar of Ely, Nevada aboard as angler when the 142-pound stripe took a black Marlin Magic Ruckus lure. Like most captains, Jeff runs bigger, more active lures closer to the boat because the bigger marlin of all types are attracted to the hectic commotion in the prop wash. The strike came as Linda Sue IV pulled its lures on a path straight out from the top corner of “The Grounds” at about 1500 fathoms.

Jody’s fish took off on a very exciting tail-walking show, Jeff said. Striped marlin are known for their speed and agility, and this one lived up to the reputation. Jeff said the fish took off at about twice the speed of a blue marlin.

A lot of the striped marlin hooked lately have shaken free because of their wild antics, but Jody was able to prevail by maintaining smooth pressure throughout the fight.

When they got it to the boat, Jeff realized that the fish was unusually large for Kona waters. Jody’s catch was bigger than the largest stripe caught in 2014 (114.5 pounds), 2013 (117.5), 2012 (95.5), 2010 (138.5) and 2009 (117.5). (Yes, I intentionally skipped ofer 2011 because that is a story in itself. Just wait.)

So they brought the fish back to the Honokohau scales to get its weight on record. With its unusual weight affirmed, Jody elected to have the fish mounted. He says he has the perfect spot for the mount back home in Nevada.

So let’s fill the gap I left open. The biggest striped marlin of 2011 was an astounding 212-pounder. Capt. Kent Mongreig and his anglers aboard the Sea Wife II took turns boating the fish that would become the Hawaii State Record. Maybe this is the year someone will beat it.


The meat of a striped marlin is highly regarded as table fare. Though many local “stripe” catches are tagged and released, others are brought back to be served raw in sashimi, poke, and ceviche or to be grilled or sauteed. The flesh can be light pink like mahimahi steaks but the most highly prized for flavor and texure are a much deeper color — sort of a pinkish orange.

The color variation seems to be related to what the “stripes” are eating. The effect has been compared to the flame color of flamingos, which comes from the beta carotine found in the shrimp they eat. It does seem a bit strange that a high speed predator would waste its hunting skills grazing on shrimp. But, then again, shrimp don’t swim very fast so a “stripe” doesn’t waste much energy getting fat and rich on scampi. Red colors aren’t exclusive to shrimp, either. “Stripes” have been seen gobbling up offshore schools of red fish like aweoweo recently.

That’s the “you are what you eat” argument, but now I am going to spin the color wheel in the opposite direction. Striped marlin are very closely related to shortbill spearfish. Scientists classify them in the same genus. Stripes and shortbills travel together and are even thought to interbreed. Mostly, they seem to eat the same stuff. Yet shortbills consistently have white meat. Excellent meat, to be sure, and very nice as sashimi, poke and sauteed fillets. But no pink colorants. Perhaps the beta carotine reasoning is just a red herring.

So eat your striped marlin if you decide to keep them and, perhaps, mount them. On the other hand, it is possible to mount any fish even if you release it. The days of skin-mount taxidermy are just about over. Indeed, most of the skin mounts of olden days have disintegrated and moulted away from their internal stuffing.

If you want to mount a fish and release it, too, take careful photos of the fish before release, get as many measurements as possible (the length from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork is especiall important), and make special note of any unusual markings or other peculiarities. That is all a good taxidermy company needs to provide you with an almost-perfect replica capable of lasting until your heirs decide to cart it to the dump.


Palu ahi fishermen find places where tuna school in the depths and send baited lines down to catch them. They deploy their hooked baits (opelu when can), chum (palu) and sink weight (often a beach stone) together in a clever package held together with a slip-knot in the line. When the weight reaches the desired depth (usually 25 to 40 fathoms), the fisherman jerks his line and opens the package. The sink weight tumbles to the bottom, the chum disperses down current and the hooked baits flutter in the current. Ahi follow the chum line to the bait and the fisherman hangs on and works the fish up to the boat.

The typical palu ahi tuna is somewhere between 20- to 80-pounds. On Wednesday, however, angler Fred McClure was fishing on “The Grounds” with friends Alan and Duke Kiriu aboard the skiff Yukiko and found himself fighting something a lot heavier.

At first, he thought it was a much-bigger-than-usual tuna. The stubborn fish pointed its nose at the bottom, dug in with its tail, and refused to budge. When the trio could finally see “color,” they weren’t looking at the golden gleam of a highly prized yellowfin tuna. Instead, it was the pink/yellow/brown side of a 111-pound amberjack (kahala).

Kahala generally feed closer to the bottom but they have learned the palu game, too. They come up from the depths to gobble the free food but are slower to the baits than the tuna are.

The big fish was not the payday they had hoped for. Though the firm, white flesh of a kahala is good tasting, it comes with some discouraging defects. The flesh is often riddled with stringy white parasites.

When they cut the big fish open, they were pleased to see that the meat was clear of critters. The biggest ones usually do not have parasites, Alan said. He suspects that parasites sap the nutrients the kahala need to keep growing. The big ones grow big because they don’t have parasites and not vice versa.

If that’s not bad enough, kahala have been implicated in cases of ciguatera. The invisible toxin gives no clue of its presence, so concerned fish eaters usually don’t take the risk. Indeed, that’s why the kahala slot on our Big-Fish List has remained vacant so far into the year. Many have been caught but most have not been brought in for weighing.

As a result, the kahala sizes over the past several years have been much smaller than the Yukiko’s 111 pounder and very much smaller than the state record 151.5 pounder caught off Kona in July of 2010. Since then, Kona’s biggest kahala have been 2011 (75.5 pounds), 2012 (63), 2013 (vacant), and 2014 (56).


The 2015 Kawaihae Wahine Fishing Tournament is set for Saturday, May 2 with proceeds to benefit the Big Island Giving Tree (BIGT). “The volunteer-run, island-wide, non-profit organization was founded to help families, our kupuna, our keiki and the homeless,” according to a press release.

The tournament has one main requirement, Event Coordiantor Ned Salvador said. The angler must be a female although the team can include men to assist with boat handling and other non-angling duties.

Awards will be for largest and smallest mahimahi and ono, with a miscellaneous category to include fish other than mahimahi or ono. One special prize makes it worth being there if only as a spectator. The tournament will give an award for “Best Dressed Wahine Team.”

Organizers are requesting donations of cash, checks, gift certificates, hotel accomodations and prizes for the BIGT and awards for participants. For more information, contact Ned Salvador (808) 557-2063 or Lani Olsen-Chong, co-chair (808) 936-0670.

Tag and Release

April 5: Blue marlin (150) Jennifer Rice, Capt. McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui
April 5: Spearfish (45) Pat Brian, Capt. Neal Isaacs, Anxious
April 5: Blue marlin (200) Michael Cain, Capt. Jeff Watson, Linda Sue III
April 6: Blue marlin (500) John Milhiser, Capt. Steve Epstein, Huntress
April 6: Blue marlin (150) Pat Brian, Capt. Brian Schumaker, Anxious
April 6: Blue marlin (100) Bob Brown, Capt. Bobby Cherry, Cherry Pit II
April 7: Blue marlin (170) Pat Brian, Capt. Brian Schumaker, Anxious
April 7: Blue marlin (140) Rob Keates, Capt. Jeff Watson, Linda Sue III
April 7: Spearfish (30 and 30) Unknown, Capt. Russ Nitta, Lepika
April 8: Blue marlin (300) Colter Peterson, Capt. David Crawford, Kona Blue
April 11: Blue marlin (650) Carol Herren, Capt. Bruce Herren, Raptor
April 11: Blue marlin (100) Marcus Fowler, Capt. Chuck Wilson, Fire Hatt
April 11: Blue marlin (110) Masa Sakata, Capt. Rob McGuckin, Integrity
April 12: Spearfish (35) Jim Cherry, Capt. Bobby Cherry, Cherry Pit II

Report by Jim Rizzuto

Already registered or a premium member? Log in
Otherwise, Register for free below, or Try Premium Free Now.