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Chasing 100 Blues in Kona Fishing Report - September 29, 2015

Date of trip: September 29, 2015
Posted September 29, 2015 by FishTrack Member
  • Raptor returns to Honokohau Harbor flying tag flags. 1 of 2
  • ?The ahi are still biting, which is helping to keep the marlin here. While fishing ?o? n Cherry Pit II with Capt. Bobby Cherry, Mike Watson boated a 167.5-pound ahi and Dick Russel ?l? a 103.5-pounder. Photo courtesy of the Charter Desk. 2 of 2
Kona’s “100 Blues Club” is a small and very selective group. Over the history of sportfishing here, only a few charter captains have caught 100 blue marlin during a single year. On Thursday, the sportfishing boat Raptor joined the club by catching numbers 98, 99 and 100. On Saturday, Capt. Bruce Herren, crew K. J. Robinson and angler Carol Hinkle-Herren added one more for good measure to up the Raptor total to 101. (Worth noting, all but a few of these were tagged, released and sent off to keep on growing and spawning.)

What’s more, there are still three months left to run up the score and a lot of unseasonably warm, blue marlin water, around to keep billfishing hot. According to Bruce, they were still finding sea temps as high as 88 degrees F at the end of the week. Most years, we don’t see readings like that even during the height of the summer blue marlin run.

For fear of jinxing himself for the rest of the year, Bruce wasn’t really ready to talk about hitting the mark, but I already had the numbers. Raptor has been calling in its catches after every trip and we’ve been publishing them here every week for all to see. The 101 is unquestionable because you’ve already seen the dates, weights and baits here every Monday.

I’m emphasizing the evidence in the public record because, after all, we are dealing with fishermen. Look up “fishing tale,” and I need say no more.

By taking note of accomplishments like Raptor’s 101, we get the chance to compare today’s fishing with other great years in the past.

Great years like 2009, for example. That year Sea Genie II caught 107 with Capt. Gene Vanderhoek and crew Chris Choy. KJ Robinson, crew for Raptor’s current quest, helped out on Sea Genie II and had a hand in 30 of those catches between his regular duties as crew on Chiripa with Capt. B. C. Crawford. It was clearly a great learning year for him. Previously, Gene topped 100 in 1996.

That same year, Capt. Kevin Nakamaru and crew Mat Bowman caught 104 blues to keep the results in doubt right to the last fishing day of the year. The day they went over 100, they tagged 4 in one trip. That year, they tagged 8 fish on the last day of July and then 50 more during a wild and crazy run in August. Previously, they had tagged 17 in February so those two runs accounted for 75 of their 104 fish total.

Gene crewed for many of the old-timers whose names you won’t remember unless you are over 60 as Gene is. He gained a lot of his experience fishing with Sid Weinrich, Bart Miller, Rope Nelson and Jack Fischer, to name a few.

Gene remembers that Bart was the first to top 100 back around 1969 while captaining the boat Kiholo. A few years later, Bart captained the Christel with Tomo Rogers as crew and boated 111 blues to set the record up to that time. West Hawaii Today heralded the accomplishment with a special article and photo of the catch. The image shows Bart and Tomo on either side of a 400-pound marlin with “111” painted on its flank with white shaving cream.

Capt. Bobby Brown raised the bar to 127 in 1976 or 1977. Unlike the standard catch-and-eat practice of the day, Bobby’s fish were all released. Even more astonishing for the time, Bobby set aside the heavy-tackle 130s and caught all of his billfish on 50-, 30- and 20-class tackle. Despite the emphasis on light-tackle, Bobby would set the heavy tackle, 130-pound class blue marlin record a few years later. Caught in May, 1982, that 1,376-pounder remains the Pacific blue marlin world record until today.

The bar got raised one more notch in 1989 with a monumental father/son effort on Ihu Nui. Capt. Freddy Rice ran the boat with son McGrew on deck. Freddy was determined to fish every possible day, charter or not, and ended the year with a 129 blues, according to McGrew.

Kevin Nakamaru crewed for them on occasion and said they were unstoppable because they were “go-go-go” all the time.

In 1994, Kevin and McGrew worked together for most of the year and fell just one fish short, ending at 99. Kevin says you have to fish every day when the fishing is hot to take advantage of the run.

Kevin says he has caught 100 big ahi in a year at least ten times, which may provide some comparison with nothing more than the hook-up rate for tuna as opposed to the much more acrobatic blue marlin.


The keys to running up the big numbers are to fish every day you can to get as many shots as you can and then be sure to hang onto your fish. Last week, in getting to 101, Raptor had 12 shots at marlin and caught 8. During the year, they fish 3 to 5 days a week with or without a charter — and mostly without.

On Thursday, they were trolling down off Pebble Beach when they hooked three marlin at once. One of the trio was a big female Bruce estimated at 500 pounds or more. Bruce fought the big one — the one most likely to shake free — while Carol took on one of the smaller blues.

As Bruce anticipated, the big one threw the hook after 5 minutes of energetic jumps. Meanwhile, Carol got the first one to K. J. for a quick tag and release. Then she did the same with the second.

Kona’s odd fishing year is reflected across the Pacific with some amazing catches along the US West Coast. Last week, a team of anglers out of San Diego boated a 662.5-pound blue to set a record for the second biggest ever out of California. Meanwhile, a boat fishing out of Newport weighed a 350-pound black marlin on the scales at the Balboa Angling Club.

Blue marlin fishing should stay hot until the waters start cooling any time now. The good news: cooler sea temps will bring in striped marlin, shortbill spearfish, and more mahimahi.

Big-Fish List for 2015. The list recognizes the biggest fish caught on rod and reel (except opakapaka and onaga, for which we'll accept hand line catches) in West Hawaii waters for 2015 in each of 22 categories. They are listed by species, weight, angler, skipper, boat, and date. The list is updated every Sunday throughout the year (copyright 2015 by Jim Rizzuto). If we have overlooked you, give us a call (885-4208) or send an e-mail (rizzutojim1@gmail.com).

Blue marlin, 1,309, Michael Bilich, Capt. Mat Bowman, Northern Lights. Aug 26. (1,368*, Guy Kitaoka, Darrell Omori, Rayna. July 28, *electric reel).
* Black marlin, 209, Tim Flint, Capt. Butch Chee, Duck Soup. Sept. 7.
*Ahi, 233, Ken Smith, Capt. Bobby Cherry. Cherry Pit II, May 1.
*Bigeye tuna, 189, Meg Stern, Capt. Tracy Epstein, Last Chance. Feb. 19.
*Striped marlin (tie), 141.5, Capt. Rocky Guaron, Hooked Up, March 26 and 142, Jody *Pintar, Capt Jeff Heintz, Linda Sue IV. April 8.
*Spearfish, (tie) 52.9, Floyd Pansano, Capt. Dale Leverone, Sea Strike, March 10; and 52.7, Kasey Buising, Capt. Mark Schubert, Captain Jack, March 6.
* Sailfish, 101, Craig Cugnit, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Jan. 31
* Mahimahi, 53, Ray Mohammed, Capt. Jim Wigzell, Go Get Em. March 15.
* Ono, 58.5, Asa Sugitan, Crazy Ann. Jan. 31
* Kaku, (barracuda), 49, Ben Bermoro, from shore. Aug. 14
* Kahala, 44.5, Todd Shiraki, Treeny 2. July 8.
* Ulua (giant trevally), 104.5, Adam Hodgson, Kayak. March 31.
* Omilu (bluefin trevally), 13.5, Bruce Lentz, caught from shore. April 2.
* Otaru (skipjack tuna), 29, Unknown, Capt. Chad Contessa, Bite Me. June 2.
* Broadbill swordfish, 50.5, Tony Clark, Capt. McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui. June 6.
* Ahipalaha (albacore), (vacant)
* Kawakawa, 17.5, Todd Shiraki, Treeny 2, June 20.
* Kamanu (rainbow runner), 21, Adam Hodgson, kayak. May 28, and 21.5, Jim Demand, Capt. Greg Kaufmann, Reel Screamer. Sept. 8.
* Opakapaka (pink snapper), (vacant)
*Onaga (ulaula ko`aie), (21) Earl K. Hind, Kilohana. Sept. 11.
*Uku (gray snapper), 16, Todd Shiraki, Treeny 2, June 20.
*O`io (bonefish), 5.4, James Cintas (6 years old), Shoreline.

Beasts of the week (marlin weighing 500 pounds or more).

September 20: Blue marlin (671) Mike Kehoe, Capt. Oskie Rice, Ihu Nui

Report by Jim Rizzuto

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