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Kona Offshore Update Fishing Report - January 19, 2016

Date of trip: January 19, 2016
Posted January 19, 2016 by FishTrack Member
  • Dave Remillard and Miles Nakahara boated a deep-feeding 173-pound po`onui to set the bar high in the bigeye tuna slot. Photo courtesy of the Charter Desk. 1 of 4
  • Ret Topping boated a 50-pound shortbill spearfish on Silky to take Kona's spearfish lead?. With Capt. John Bagwell at the helm, the Topping party also boated a striped marlin and some mahimahi. Photo courtesy of the Charter Desk at Honokohau Harbor. 2 of 4
  • Camelot grabbed the top ono spot with a 37.2 pounder on a dawn bite. Photo courtesy of the Charter Desk. 3 of 4
  • Gary Carter and Capt. Jason Holtz teased a 43.6-pound shortbill spearfish up to the stern of the boat Pursuit and Gary switched it to a strip bait on 8 pound class line. If approved, it will be on more world record for Gary. 4 of 4
At year’s end, Miles Nakahara sneaked a huge bigeye tuna past us so you never got to hear about it. His very-impressive-but-unreported 216-pounder would have topped our Big-Fish List for 2015, but that’s water under the boat. Now he is making up for it. Last Monday, Miles caught a 173-pound bigeye tuna, weighed it at the Fuel Dock, and took over the lead for 2016.

Dave Remillard, from Sacramento, was Miles’ guest on his boat Puamana II and found the 173-pound po’onui (it means “big head”) at F-Buoy. When Miles spotted the fish on his fishfinder as a mark 50-fathoms deep, he made a wish that it wasn’t a shark and sent a bait down 300 feet to tempt it. The fish bit immediately, Miles said.

“I must have dropped the bait right on its head,” Miles said.

When they brought it up, Dave said he couldn’t believe how big it was. “How many people get a chance to touch a fish this huge,” he said.

Miles had caught the 216-pounder at TT-Buoy at the very best time of year to catch one. Bigeye is the most valuable red meat sashimi and it was just two days before New Year’s when demand was at its peak. (Could that be why we never heard about it?)

The veteran local fishermen says there is a good run of 70- to 100-pound yellowfins hanging out in the depths right now within reach of drift fishermen who send their baits down around FADs. He caught an 80-pound “yellow” the same day as the 173-pound bigeye and two yellows of 70 and 80 pounds on his previous trip a week before.

At 65, Miles has had more than his share of adventures and these stories have made for some of our most interesting and informative columns. In 2009, for example, he hooked a 745-pound marlin while fishing in the Kona Ika Trollers Tournament. When he and his team had the fish at boatside, it took one final leap up over the outrigger and broke it off. Miles said he had just painted the boat and the fish scratched the new paint badly, too. Main thing, they hung onto the marlin and won the tournament.


The current striped marlin run as produced some dandy fish, which have pushed the bar higher and higher. Dave Britt caught a 106.5-pounder on his boat Primo Time. Capt. Kevin Hiney raised the ante to 117-pounds on the charterboat Kuuipo. But Capt. Shawn Rotella now has the lead just 4 pounds higher at 121-pounds.
Shawn caught his big “stripe” on a day that had started out disappointingly. He and his party trolled for billfish and tuna all morning with no luck. When long hours with no fish make his charters grumpy, Shawn switches to his “sure thing” mood raiser. He looks for big gamefish along the bottom inside the 100-fathom ledge.

As he was pulling his boat Night Runner up to one of his favorite amberjack spots, he saw his outrigger bounce a few times. Something was playing with one of his lures.

He came down from his bridge helm and started reeling in the line quickly to see if he could get the fish to strike. As the fast-moving lure raced into view, he saw that it was being followed by a striped marlin, with its bright bars all lit up in excitement. The curious fish was definitely interested in the lure so he let it dangle from the outrigger to keep it nearby. As it did fast figure-eights behind the boat, he pulled out one of his light amberjack rods with a hook and leader, baited it with an opelu and tossed it to the marlin.

The whole process of getting the second rod ready and into action seemed to take forever, Shawn said, and the fish could race away as fast as it had appeared.

The marlin liked the tasty new offering and snatched it immediately. The fish was on but maybe not for long. In the rush to get a bait out, Shawn had selected a very light leader (80-pound test) and small circle hook. It might take only seconds for the rough jaws to wear through the leader.

But they got lucky. The circle hook caught in the marlin’s jaw hinge so the leader stayed out of the marlin’s mouth and away from rough surfaces.

Angler Barret Reek reeled it to the boat, and the leader reached crew Bethany McCurdy about 10 minutes. Shawn told her to take her wraps on the leader and hang on. Even if the leader broke, it wouldn’t matter much because they had already had all excitement and action of a great experience.

The hook and leader held, and they pulled the fish aboard. Then they began to realize it might be bigger than any striped marlin weighed so far in 2016. The scales at the Bite Me Fish Market affirmed their estimate and they now have the lead.

But maybe not for long. Last year’s biggest was over 140 and the typical biggest for most years is over 150. A few of those are out there swimming around right now.
After the striped marlin, Shawn’s party continued fishing and had a lot of action with amberjacks. “That kind of fishing really makes the afternoon go very quickly,” Shawn said. All of the kahala were released. We won’t tell his party that the kahala slot is vacant and they would be the list leaders if they had weighed their biggest.


If you want to catch a light tackle shortbill spearfish record, this is the place and now is the time. Angler Gary Carter has caught several shortbill records here in the past, and he was happy to jump on a plane for Kona when Capt. Jason Holtz called him to tell him about the current run.

On Thursday, Gary joined Jason on the charterboat Pursuit and set out to beat the 8-pound class record. (The line must have a breaking strength under 8 pounds.) Jason and Gary are masters of the “tease and switch” technique, which makes sure you are able to present a fresh line to the right fish.

They towed hookless teasers until they saw a potential qualifier following one of the teasers. The existing 8-pound class record is a 42-pounder caught here in 1994 by Jeff Meyer. The fish they saw following the teaser looked like it was just about the same size but just might be a tad bigger.

Gary tossed it a strip bait on his 8-pound outfit and the fish switched from the teaser to the bait. After a very short, close-in fight, they had the fish aboard and then worried about the weight. They sweated out a close one. The fish beat Jeff Meyer’s record by 1.6 pounds. Now it is up to the International Gamefish Association to test the line, measure the leader and be satisfied that all regulations have been met.


On Thursday just as the sky was pinking up behind Hualalai, Capt. Robert Hudson pulled Camelot out of Honokohau Harbor with his charter, Daryll Dressler, aboard. Crew Shawn Palmer was eager to get the fishing started and began setting out the lines as they reached the green buoy.

You know that putting your marlin lures out right away can be a good strategy if you remember all of the times big billfish have been raised almost withing casting distance from shore. But you might just end up punishing your lures if a sharp-toothed ono gets to one first.

“We had two lines in the water and the sun was barely up and an ono grabbed one,” Robert said. “It totally destroyed a Marlin Magic Big Blue lure. But we got the bugger.”

And that 37.2-pound bugger ono they got is the biggest one caught here so far this year.


Thursday was the best marlin catching day of last week, and Capt. Guy Terwiliger took advantage of the action with an unusual double catch. On High Flier, Guy’s charters caught (and released) marlin estimated at 300- and 350-pounds.

In one of the boatside action shots from the day, you can see the hook stuck more than halfway up the bill. Hooking the bill, in itself, is a rare event. The hook usually just slides off the bill without grabbing. It just shows the importance of making sure your hook points are sticky-sharp.

And a bill hook-up often means you are leading a marlin straight at you, still full of fight. Be prepared to duck. These two came in and were tagged and released with no further incident.

The same day, Fire Hatt also tagged a marlin estimated at 350 pounds along with a 150-pounder. With High Flier’s pair of 300 and 350, the 14th was good for the three biggest blues of the week.

And with Pursuit’s potential record spearfish on the 14th, the charter boat Silky brought in a 50-pound shortbill to take over the spearfish lead for the year. Angler Ret Topping caught the new list-leader with Capt. John Bagwell at the helm.

As already noted, Thursday was also the lucky day for Camelot with their big ono.

What made it a good day for catching? Very simply this. Lots of boats went fishing.

For that reason, Capt. Al Gustavson might argue that the 15th was the better day. On Friday, he and his crew hit a three-billfish slam with a blue marlin, striped marlin and shortbill spearfish. Unless you are fishing, there is no catching. Unless you are talking about catching the flu, catching a fly ball, catching hell from your boss — catching on?

Report by Jim Rizzuto

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