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Kona End-of-Year Report Fishing Report - January 04, 2017

Date of trip: January 04, 2017
Posted January 04, 2017 by FishTrack Member
  • Team Li'l Alexii caught three yellowfins to win the ahi division of Kona's annual New Year's Day tournament. Photo courtesy of The Charter Desk. 1 of 4
  • Capt. Chip Fischer and crew Howard Whitcomb managed to salvage 701 pounds of a big year-ending blue after it was attacked by sharks during the fight. Chip estimates that the sharks took at least 60 pounds. Photo: Charter Desk 2 of 4
  • Linda Sue IV grabbed the 2016 spearfish title on Monday with a 58.5-pound shortbill. Crew Kip Taylor (left) and Will Lazenby (right) flank angler John Zagorsky of Blackhawk, South Dakota. John's catch tops a 54 pounder that held the lead since February 3 of 4
  • Sherif Agaiby from Egypt grabbed the 2016 striped marlin title with a 151-pounder on Nasty Habit with Capt. David Unger and crew Daron Castoro. Sherif's big "stripe" bumped a 136.5 pounder from January 22. Photo courtesy the Charter Desk. 4 of 4
In an exciting final week of the year, three lucky anglers took over top spots on our Big-Fish List for 2016. The year ended with new leaders for shortbill spearfish (58.5-pounds), striped marlin (151), and opakapaka (13.5).

Capt. Jeff Heintz got the big shortbill on Linda Sue IV for visitors John and Nancy Zagorski of Blackhawk, South Dakota. The Zagorskis have fished with Jeff for 22 years, and it is Jeff’s biggest spearfish since he started chartering in Hawaii 41 years ago.

Jeff’s crew, Kip Taylor and Will Lazenby set up for trolling and Jeff found the fish on the 1,500-fathom edge offshore of Keahole Point. The bright silver-and-blue fighter hit a 6-inch Polo Kai lure running on 50-pound test line. The light tackle added some special excitement to the catch. Spearfish have big appetites and frequently hit big lures on heavy tackle designed for blue marlin 20 times their size. Not much of a matchup.

Winning the spearfish title at the end of the year is a mixed blessing, Jeff said.

“If we had caught it on January 1, it might have kept us at the top of the list for all of 2017,” he explained. But Jeff is glad to take the bird in the hand on this one. “Bird” is a very subtle pun. Skippers call spearfish “chuckers.”

The 151-pound striped marlin grabbed the top spot on Wednesday. Sherif Agaiby and his family, visitors from Egypt, chartered Nasty Habit with Capt. David Unger and crew Daron Castoro.

The Nasty Habit “stripe” not only tops 2016, it is bigger than any Kona striped marlin since 2011. That’s when Sea Wife II boated an amazing 2012-pounder to set the Hawaii state record.

To appreciate the size of both the state record and last week’s Nasty Habit 151-pounder, check out the top striped marlin catches for the past decade. Working backwards, 2015 (142 pounds), 2014 (114.5), 2013 (117.5), 2012 (95.5), 2011 (212 state record), 2010 (138), 2009 (117.5), 2008 (144), 2007 (157), and 2006 (138).

Wesley Mattos added the third new champ to the year’s best list with a 13.5-pound opakapaka just in time for a Christmas celebration. Fishing on his boat Mana Maru, Wesley found the big snapper on the “North Grounds.” Paka live deep and this one was the biggest of many Wesley pulled up from the bottom that day.

Our odd “no-catch” of the year, the Big-Fish List slot for oio (bonefish) remained vacant for all of 2016. Yes, anglers did catch bonefish in 2016. Most of those reported were too small for consideration. Small bonefish should be released to grow up. Many others were more than big enough but were released without weighing. Bravo. We encourage release. And several others were not considered because the anglers did not want to reveal their location or method. That works, too. But even without 2016 entries, we’ll keep the oio slot open for 2017.


Even in the great offshore opera of big-game fishing “it isn’t over until the fat lady sings.” In the final week of 2016, many hopefuls hit the water looking for one more fat lady to end the year with the right music. (The largest marlin are, as you well know, females.) Only Hanamana (the name means “working force”) found her. The classic vessel ended the 50th stanza of its half century of plying Kona waters with its biggest fish of the year.

Captain Jack Fischer had visited Kona often during the early 1960s and brought the 38-foot Hanamana to Kona in 1966 to start a charter fishing operation. His son Chip took over the operation when Jack retired and continued his dad’s successes right up until his encounter with Wednesday’s big diva.

Chip and his crew Howard Whitcomb hosted angler Hannabeth Magnussen and her family for a trip in search of some of the spearfish and striped marlin currently making news now. Big Momma marlin are known to snack on their smaller spearfish cousins so Chip had a big marlin lure in the pattern just in case. This one, a Marlin Magic Ruckus, caught the eye of a 700-pound blue.

Back home, Hannabeth strokes an 8-oared crew and a double-scull. Crew girls are tough. I know because I’ve coached them and lived with them. Even so, the fish gave Hannabeth everything she could handle and a bit more. With Howard’s help, the young lady worked for an hour to get the marlin to the boat. During the fight, a shark got into the act and played villain. After it tore a chunk off the back end of the marlin, Hannabeth’s battle became even tougher. Instead of being able to guide the marlin to the boat as it swam under its own power, the fish became a dead weight to be winched up from the depths.

Back at the dock, the scales read 701 pounds. The rest of the story was in the dramatic inury —the loss of perhaps 60 pounds.


In winter, Kona’s striped marlin and shortbill spearfish are usually joined by packs of small blue marlin of about the same size. The day after Christmas, Humdinger trolled over a pack of 70-pound blues. After getting three to hit at once, Capt. Jeff Fay’s anglers got two to the boat. Together, the two blues were very exciting sport but together they did not weigh as much as the 177-pound ahi his party caught on the same trip.

Baylor University softball player McKenzie Oviatt fished on Raptor with her grandparents and played hardball with a spearfish and an ono.

Wednesday was a triple-play day for anglers on Topshape. Capt. Al Gustavson’s party released a 30-pound spearfish and weighed a 32-pound mahimahi and a 20-pound spearfsh. For maximum action with the smaller billfishes, Capt. Al runs two 30-pound class outfits long and two 50s short. Small reels mean risky business. You are undergunned if a big fish takes a liking to a small lure. And the pitch of the screaming ratchet can be so high that your old ears can’t hear it. Next month, Capt. Al will host a client from the Bahamas who is trying for a record spearfish.

On Bite Me 4, Capt. Brian Damasco found a spearfish triple for his clients.


If the 20-team New Year’s Day Tournament is any measure, 2017 is starting off slowly. Team Silky called in the first marlin of the year just 13 minutes after start fishing. Capt. John Bagwell later weighed a 74.5-pound striped marlin. Silky’s fish finished second in the tournament after Team Lawaia weighed an 87-pound blue marlin. Nalu Kea boated the year’s first ahi, Easy Pickens the first ono, and Anxious the first mahimahi. On Little Lexii, angler Talexii Ancheta-Ross brought in a 50-pound ahi to take third place for biggest fish, behind the 87-pound blue and the 74.5-pound stripey.

Final Big-Fish List for 2016. 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 2016 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 2016 by Jim Rizzuto).

Blue marlin, 898, Carol Lynne, Capt. Marlin Parker. Nov. 20.
Black marlin, 310, Tim Flint, Capt. Butch Chee, Duck Soup, June 21
Ahi, 233, David Diaz, Capt. Bobby Cherry, Cherry Pit II, June 5
Bigeye tuna, 173, Dave Remillard, Miles Nakahara, Puamana II. Jan. 11.
Striped marlin, 151, Sherif Agaiby, Capt. David Unger, Nasty Habit.
Spearfish, 58.5, John and Nancy Zogorski, Capt. Jeff Heinz, Linda Sue. Dec. 26
Sailfish, 95.5, Josh Fulton, Kayak, Nov 13
Mahimahi, 53, Nainoa Murtagh, Aulani. Feb. 10.
Ono, 62, Charlie Ford, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Mar. 18.
Kaku, (barracuda), 49.5, Koi Lorance and Tyson Fukuyama, Miki. May 7.
Kahala, 70, Jessica Yell, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Jan 22.
Ulua (giant trevally), 74, Bochan Johnson, from shore. Apr 3.
Omilu (bluefin trevally), 18.5, Mikey McCrum, Shoreline. May 13
Otaru (skipjack tuna), 28.5, Ray Mohammond, Capt. Jim Wigzell, Go Get Em
Broadbill swordfish, 224, Matthew Bolton, Kahele, June 14
Ahipalaha (albacore), 52.5, Devin Hallingstad, kayak, Aug 13
Kawakawa, 23, Tom Schachet, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. July 1
Kamanu (rainbow runner), 18. Don Ferreira, Tyson Fukuyama, Miki Nov. 14.
Opakapaka (pink snapper), 13.5. Wesley Mattos, Mana Maru, Dec 21.
Onaga (ulaula ko`aie), 19.5, Greg Hong, Kevin Shiraki, Erin Kai. Feb 25.
Uku (gray snapper), 31, Josh Fulton, kayak. July 31.
O`io (bonefish), (vacant)

Beasts of the week (marlin weighing 500 pounds or more, including R for releases).
December 28: Blue marlin (701) Hannabeth Magnussen, Capt. Chip Fisher, Hanamana

Tag and Released

December 26: Blue marlin (70 and 70) Kevin Procida, Capt. Jeff Fay, Humdinger
December 26: Spearfish (25) Elfriede Crawford, Capt. Al Gustavson, Topshape
December 27: Blue marlin (275) Tanner Bramlaye, Capt. John Bagwell, Silky
December 27: Blue marlin (175) Nolan Seenberg, Capt. James Dean, Blue Hawaii
December 27: Blue marlin (150) Ed, Capt. Rich Young, A'U Struck
December 27: Spearfish (30) Andrew Clement, Capt. Al Gustavson, Topshape
December 28: Spearfish (30) Petri Parvinen, Capt. Al Gustavson, Topshape
December 29: Spearfish (35) Tony Benesito, Capt. Steve Epstein, Huntress
December 29: Blue marlin (135) Jonathan Gregg, Capt. Chuck Haupert, Catchem
December 31: Spearfish (25 and 45) Dave Setnicker, Capt. James Bach, Maverick

Report by Jim Rizzuto

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