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Kona Offshore Update Fishing Report - February 10, 2016

Date of trip: February 10, 2016
Posted February 11, 2016 by FishTrack Member
  • Leighton Kelekoma, 12, caught a 38-pound mahimahi on light spinning tackle to take over the Big-Fish List ?mahimahi lead. 1 of 4
  • Capt. Deneen Wargo boated her first ulua ever. At 32 pounds it took over the ulua lead on the Big Fish List. The tough "giant trevally" hit the C-pro lure shown. 2 of 4
  • Capt. James Dean's guests on Blue Hawaii brought in a 75-pound striped marlin and wanted a quick photo before release. Later inspection of the photo showed the broken-off tip of a marlin bill protruding from a wound in the anal region. 3 of 4
  • Veteran bottomfisherman Sueto Matsumura boated a 14.5-pound onaga (longtail red snapper) to contend for biggest of the year. 4 of 4
Leighton Kelekoma, 12, caught a 38-pound mahimahi to take over the Big-Fish List mahimahi lead. His light fishing tackle was as much a surprise as his young age. The youngster’s Penn spinning rod and reel is a sturdy outfit for “whipping” along the shoreline to catch pan-sized reef fish. But you have to be pretty brave if you are using it to challenge an offshore fish known for its strength, agility and persistence. Leighton proved to be just as persistent throughout an unrelenting, one-hour battle.

Leighton had gone fishing with his dad, Marcus, and family friend Craig Ashihara on Craig’s 19.5-foot outboard skiff. Leighton had brought along his spinning outfit, a recent Christmas present, to cast for small fish on the surface as his partners sent baits down on a maki doggu line to catch shibi around UU-Buoy.

The older folks were doing well with 15- to 25-pound tuna so they stayed at the FAD. As Leighton cast and retrieved his small lure the big mahimahi showed up to look it over. The bright gold and blue fish made a pass at the lure and missed. When Leighton swept the rod tip up to set the hook, he foul-hooked the mahimahi in the body by the pectoral fin.

“With that hook-up, he couldn’t turn the fish’s head to lead it toward the boat,” his dad said. “We tried chasing it down with the boat but the fish turned an angle on us.”

The only thing to do was to keep enough pressure on the fish to tire it without pulling the hook free.

Young Leighton refused to give up and stayed with the fight all the way, his dad said.

They weighed the fish after our cut-off for last week’s report. Then came the suspense in waiting to see if anyone would beat their mahimahi before this week’s report came out.

Congratulations, Leighton!


At 12, Leighton Kelekoma is the youngest fisherman on our Big-Fish List. At 81, Sueto Matsumura is the oldest. Over the years, the veteran bottom fisherman has shown up on our list with beautiful and delicious snappers pulled up from the great depths, and this time is no exception. Sueto fills the onaga slot this week with a 14.5-pound longtailed red snapper caught at about 150 fathoms.

Aboard his boat Sandee, the successful deep-water fisherman sends down a maki doggu rig with two hooks wrapped in a cloth package with a heavy weight and a lot of chopped up palu (chum). He baits his hooks with a two-strip combination of opelu and kawakawa. Opelu provides exceptional flavor but it is soft and easily torn from the hook. Kawakawa is a tough bait and stays on the hook. The package is held together with a slip knot, which is jerked loose when the bait reaches the right spot. The palu gives a burst of savory bits that attract bottom fish to swim up the chumline to the hooks.

On Tuesday when he caught the 14.5-pounder, he also pulled up a 13-pounder and four or five others. Last year, he was too modest to submit any of his catches, which were even more startling than his 14.5-pounder. One of his friends caught a 25-pound onaga in 2015, but didn’t submit it. Just knowing about that fish might discourage someone who caught a smaller one.

On the other hand, the state record is 28-pounds and that seems breakable when you know that fishermen have recently caught onaga nearly as big.


Along the Kona coast, trollers rarely catch ulua on surface lures. That’s largely because “giant trevally” want to feed in the bottom half of the water column where their prey are easier to ambush. Whatever the reason, it was not suprising to hear Capt. Deneen Wargo say she had just caught her first ulua on Friday despite being a full-time charter captain for a few years.

What’s more, it’s not surprising that she made the catch under unusual circumstances.

On Deneen’s afternoon half-day charter, her guests were a Chinese family with dolphin-watching as their top priority. Through their interpretor, they told Deneen that fishing was second to their dolphin quest.

Easily done here, of course, because dolphins do like to play around the boats in Kailua Bay. And as long as they were going to be going from Honokohau to the Bay, they might as well put out some ono lures just in case they found one along the way.

Ono lane disappointed, but Deneen could see spinner dolphins dancing in the jet-ski area. Time to pull in the lines to be ready when the dolphins raced over to play in the Bite Me 6 bow wave.

As her crew started pulling in lines, the long rigger line popped out of the clip. The reel kept running. Maybe it was the ono they had been trying for?

Their Chinese guest was a bit confused but finally got into the chair to fight the fish, Deneen said. Ulua are tough fighters and the guest had a hard time bringing it in. Fortunately, it was very well hooked so there wasn’t much chance of having it shake free regardless of what the angler did. Back at the dock it took Deneen and her crew five minutes to get the hook out, she said. That’s worth noting because it’s clear that the fish really wanted that lure (a C-Pro skirted lure made by Capt. Kenny Llanes).

As her first ulua, the 32-pounder is special to Deneen. As the biggest ulua caught so far this year, it is special to us because it fills a slot on the Big-Fish List.


A week or so ago, an angler on the charterboat Blue Hawaii battled a 75-pound striped marlin to the boat. The plan was to tag and release it, but the angler wanted to get a photo with the fish before release. That can be a bit risky to all involved, including the fish, but it is done occasionally at the charter’s request. After tagging it, they pulled the fish out of the water, angler and crew held it for a moment, skipper James Dean snapped a photo, and they tossed it back in the water no worse for the experience.

In the process, they had noticed an injury but didn’t want to keep the fish out of the water longer for close inspection. Instead, James downloaded the image to his computer, and zoomed in on the wound.

From the image, James could clearly see a broken bill sticking out of the festering wound. The 75-pound striped marlin had survived an attack by a marlin that may have been big enough to eat it.

The bigger fish, maybe even a grander, is wandering around out there with a broken nose and a bad attitude — maybe spoiling for a fight with somebody like you.

?On second thought, the broken bill section suggests a smaller aggressor. Perhaps this was just a duel between two suitors interested in the same female. We'll know when someone catches the next "short bill" striped marlin.?

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). If we have overlooked you, give us a call (885-4208) or send an e-mail (rizzutojim1@gmail.com).

Blue marlin, 625, Sunny Water & Marc Hembrough, Capt. Kenny Fogarty, Hula Girl. Jan 3.
Black marlin, (vacant)
Ahi, 227, Capt. Russ Nitta, Lepika. Jan 6.
Bigeye tuna, 173, Dave Remillard, Miles Nakahara, Puamana II. Jan. 11.
Striped marlin, 136.5, Mitchell Romero, Capt. Guy Terwilliger, High Flier. Jan 22.
Spearfish, 50, Ret Topping, Capt. John Bagwell, Silky, Jan 14
Sailfish, (vacant)
Mahimahi, 38, Leighton Kelekoma, Craig Ashihara, No Name (Caught on 12-pound-test) Jan. 31
Ono, 57, Monty Brown, Capt. Robbie Brown, El JoBean. Jan 23.
Kaku, (barracuda), (vacant)
Kahala, 70, Jessica Yell, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Jan 22.
Ulua (giant trevally), 32, Capt. Deneen Wargo, Bite Me 6. Feb 5.
Omilu (bluefin trevally), (vacant)
Otaru (skipjack tuna), tie at 14 pounds: Karey George, Capt. Kent Mongreig, Sea Wife II, Jan 21, and Jake Icenhower, Tyson Fukuyama, Miki, Jan. 28
Broadbill swordfish, (vacant)
Ahipalaha (albacore), (vacant)
Kawakawa, (vacant)
Kamanu (rainbow runner), (vacant)
Opakapaka (pink snapper), (vacant)
Onaga (ulaula ko`aie), 14.5, Sueto Matsumura, Sandee. Feb 2.
Uku (gray snapper), (vacant)
O`io (bonefish), (vacant)

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

None weighed.

Billfish releases

January 31: Striped marlin (120) Bill Busch, (90) Torrey Glass, Capt. David Crawford, Kona Blue
January 31: Spearfish (35) Unknown, Capt. Steve Fassbender, Teresa
February 1:Striped marlin (90) Ron Jessee, Capt. Jeff Heintz, Linda Sue IV
February 1: Striped marlin (70) Tom Manthey, Capt. Neal Isaacs, Anxious
February 3: Spearfish (35) Unkown, Capt. Neal Isaacs, Anxious
February 3: Striped marlin (50), Unknown, Capt. Neal Isaacs, Anxious
February 4: Blue marlin (175) David Burtner, Capt. Don, Kona Spirit
February 6: Striped marlin (40) Daniel Lebert, Capt. Kenny Fogarty, Makana Lani


January 31: Mahimahi (38) Leighton Kelekoma, Craig Ashihara, No Name (Caught on 12lb test)
February 2: Blue marlin (273) Lisa Schott, Capt. Jeff Heintz, Linda Sue IV
February 2: Onaga (14.5 and 13.5) Sueto Matsumura, Sandee
February 3: Ahi (201) Adam Caswell, Capt. Bobby Cherry, Cherry Pit II
February 4: Sailfish (76) Garrett Nishihara, Speared

Report by Jim Rizzuto

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