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Kona Offshore Update Fishing Report - September 16, 2015

Date of trip: September 16, 2015
Posted September 16, 2015 by FishTrack Member
  • Mike Scheller caught the biggest blue of the week (529 pounds) on Makana Lani with Capt. Kenny Fogarty. 1 of 1
If you are having trouble hooking big fish, think small. Capt. Kenny Fogarty has been running a 7-inch blue bullet in his pattern behind Makana Lani. That’s small enough to be gulped by the 10-pound mahimahi that grabbed it Wednesday morning but not too small for the 529-pound blue marlin that sucked it in later that day. Angler Mike Scheller battled it to the boat in about an hour. Kenny fishes without a deckhand so the fish was still too “green” to handle.

Make that “blue.” When he spotted the fish down deep below the boat, all he could see were its bright neon blue fins flashing signs of trouble ahead. “When I saw those fins, I knew I was going to get my butt kicked when I grabbed the leader,” Kenny said. It took another half hour to subdue the big fish and Kenny is still feeling the aches and pains of hanging onto the biggest marlin weighed here last week.

Kenny caught 7 of his last 8 blue marlin on that same 7-inch lure.

Why are fish of all sizes taking small baits now? Kenny may have found the answer in the belly of a 50-pound ahi he caught later. Its stomach was packed with the small fish he called “silver dollars.” On further examination, I realized he was talking about the “slender ocean sunfish” with the scientific name Ranzania laevis. They swarm in giant schools this time of year and fish of all sizes can fill their bellies very easily.

If Ranzania aren’t the attraction, maybe it is the opelu kika. Now and for the next month or so, the opelu schools are loaded with youngsters about the length of a dollar bill. You’ll find these all up and down the coastline in 25 to 35 fathoms. Capt. Gregg Kaufmann has been catching these small opelu and using them live aboard his boat Reel Screamer to keep his Kawaihae charters happy with a diverse assortment of tough gamefish.

Gregg says the baitfish bite readily early in the day. When he drops a string of flies down into an opelu school, he says the string comes up like a Christmas tree decorated with bright silver baitfish.

And when he drops his fresh-caught baits down with a hook and weight, he has been catching ulua, kahala, uku and rainbow runner. His biggest rainbow runner weighed 21.5 pounds and now joins our Big-Fish List in a tie with a 21-pounder (close enough) caught off Mahukona earlier this year.

Ulua are favorites with local fishermen and Gregg’s party has caught them as big as 88 pounds with as many as 5 or 6 of 25 to 35 pounds on a single half-day trip.


Billfish are aggressive and territorial. Big-game anglers believe that the most successful fishing boats attract marlin by their size, shape, noise and commotion. At its most aggressive, a billfish comes into the wake spoiling for trouble and ready to attack. if it is in a mellow mood, it is at least looking to satisfy its curiosity about an intruder. Lure trollers test their many moods by spreading their lure pattern out behind the boat from short to long-gone.

Aboard Kona Blue, Capt. David Wolfe-Crawford offers fish what may be the biggest challenge in the fleet. He sets his biggest lures on the second wave in the wake, perhaps 15 to 20 yards behind his whirling propellors and dares them to come for it. And a lot of them do.

On Tuesday, Dave and crew Mike Dakil had anglers Michael Carris and John Mattingly aboard for the excitement. The currents called them south so they headed down the coastline to find fish. They got their first bite at 1:30. John pulled in a 250-pound blue, which they released.

They turned back north and worked their way back though their favorite spots. In about 150 fathoms off Keauhou, they saw the shadow of a big fish as it eyed their second-wave lure. With everyone looking back to watch the fish, it charged the lure from outside the wake, hooked up and ran out more than a quarter mile of line. It took all of the monofilament topshot and dug down into the Dacron before they finally got it settled down. Michael brought it in after a 30-minute fight. Next to the boat, they estimated the fish at 450-pounds and released it.

A lot of what Dave knows, he learned from his dad, retired Capt. B. C. Crawford. Occasionally, B. C. takes over the helm just to get the feel of the boat and test to see if he still remembers where the fish are. During the 25th T.A.R.T competition, B. C. ran the boat, raised 8 marlin, brought in 7 for release, and won the tournament.

Dave says that his dad’s secret weapon is to stay focused, and he insists everyone else do the same. When he is focused on finding fish, his guests just need to stay focused on that second-wave lure.


On Friday, the charterboat Illusions caught 4 blue marlin — 5 if you count one that got away just before they got it to the boat says owner Al Sullivan. Al and his friends were aboard with Capt. Tim Hicks at the helm and Jordan Kilkenney as crew. Their catch provided some interesting info regarding the lack of chivalry between male and female marlin.

Like many of last week’s fishermen, they headed south because conditions looked best in the run from Keauhou to Milolii. They got their first marlin in the morning off Kealakekua Bay in about 600 fathoms. Further down, they hooked one and lost it halfway to the boat. Call it a “self-release” if you dare. By now they had reached Milolii. As they were working the koa, Tim and Al were up on the bridge and saw a marlin jumping in the distance. Billfish sometimes do this when they are chasing each other around in an amorous mood.

They aimed for the fish, knowing that the smaller quicker males generally get to the lure faster than the bigger, slower females.

But not this time. Just as they wondered aloud whether they had reached the spot, they saw a 400-pound marlin blow up with their short corner lure. The girl had beaten out the boys. But not for long. While they were still moving ahead, a 150-pounder (almost certainly a male) hit the long corner lure. With two fish on at once, the battle was tricky but they got both to the boat in 35 minutes.

One more marlin figured in there someplace, but it just reinforced the observation that we are seeing a ratio of about 5 or 6 males for every female. And we would be seeing more females if the boys would let the girls take the first bite.


That’s the kind of headline that could go both ways. It could also be Big Blue takes another Baby Blue, which makes sense after you have already read the story of Kenny Fogarty’s success with big marlin on small blue bullet lures.

On Thursday, Richard Jeffries and his wife Aulani were trolling on their boat Malukai II when a 600-pound blue marlin took the “baby blue” bullet they were trolling on their short rigger.

“The line went straight out from port side…or so it looked,” Richard said in an email. “Then all of a sudden, about 200 yards out on the starboard side this great big marlin came up out of the water. Once, twice, three times and then took off straight away from the stern of the boat, and down.

“We had already decided we were going to release any marlin, and that took a little pressure off me right there. I was going to have fun playing this fish! Well, about 20-25 minutes into ‘my play’, soaking wet from the heat of the day, Aulani, who was at the helm shouted out, “Are ‘we’ having fun yet”?
After about 70 minutes, they saw “color” and knew the fish was close. It took 4 tries to get thye leader within reach. Richard slid the tired fish up along the side of the boat and got a good look. The bill was up past the middle cleat ant the tail extended out past the rear of their 28-foot long World Cat.

“Her eye was bigger than my fist,” Richard said in awe. He felt comfortable estimating it at 600 pounds, grabbed the bill, wrested the Koga # 9 hook from her upper jaw, and released her to swim away. Another big fish on a tiny lure.

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

September 9: Blue marlin (529) Mike Scheller, Capt. Kenny Fogarty, Makana Lani

Tag and Release

September 6: Blue marlin (275) Robin Holton, Capt. McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui
September 6: Blue marlin (150) Mike Klepfer, Capt. Scott Fuller, JR’s Hooker
September 6: Blue marlin (170) Gordon Baxter, Capt. Marlin Parker, Marlin Magic II
September 6: Blue marlin (140) Chris Gamrot, (150) John Gamrot, Capt. Teddy Hoogs, Bwana
September 6: Blue marlin (175) John Britt, Capt. Neil Isaacs, Anxious
September 7: Blue marlin (100) Carol Herren, Capt. Bruce Herren, Raptor
September 7: Blue marlin (140) Bruce Blakemore, Capt. Teddy Hoogs, Bwana
September 8: Blue marlin (450) Michael Carris, (250) John Mattingly, Capt. David Crawford, Kona Blue
September 9: Blue marlin (125) Anonymous, Capt. Brian Schumaker, Anxious
September 10: Blue marlin (600) Richard and Aulani Jeffrey, Malu Kai II
September 10: Blue marlin (130) Alexander Dwyer, Capt. Scott Fuller, JR’s Hooker
September 11: Blue marlin (150) Anonymous, Capt. Rubin Rubio, Sundowner
September 11: Blue marlin (180) Carol Herren, Capt. Bruce Herren, Raptor
September 11: Blue marlin (150) Angela Husky, Capt. Steve Epstein, Huntress
September 11: Blue marlin (175) Jason Williams, (125, 150) Glen Williams, Capt. Tim Hicks, Illusions
September 12: Blue marlin (130) Aaron Singuit, Capt. McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui
September 12: Blue marlin (150) Mick Dickson, Capt. Steve Epstein, Huntress
September 12: Blue Marlin (200) Rick Hubble, Capt. Scott Fuller, JR’s Hooker
September 12: Blue marlin (150) Jason Williams, Capt. Tim Hicks, Illusions

Notable Catches

September 7: Black marlin (209) Tim Flint, Capt. Butch Chee, Duck Soup
September 8: Black marlin (141) Tim Flint, Capt. Butch Chee, Duck Soup
September 11: Onaga (21) Earl K. Hind, Kilohana.

Report by Jim Rizzuto

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