Hawaii Fishing Report

« Back to all Hawaii reports
Share this report

Kona Offshore Update Fishing Report - March 22, 2016

Date of trip: March 22, 2016
Posted March 29, 2016 by FishTrack Member
  • The charter boat Anxious released a 500-pound blue marlin to record the biggest reported last week. Photo courtesy of Anxious Sportfishing. 1 of 3
  • Mike Foster fished on Night Runner with Capt. Shawn Rotella and boated a 91-pound sailfish to take the lead for largest sail of the week. Photo courtesy of Night Runner Sportfishing. 2 of 3
  • Megan Whaley and kayak fisherman Devin Hallingstad show Devin's 76.5-pound sailfish and 17.5-pound uku (gray snapper). The uku is the largest weighed in Kona so far this year. Photo courtesy of the Charter Desk at Honokohau Harbor. 3 of 3
The year’s biggest sailfish flew out of the water last Thursday to the surprise of dive boats passing nearby, the amusement of surfers catching waves just inshore of the action, and the delight of the gang on Night Runner.

The 91-pound billfish with the enormous dorsal fin had taken a live opelu towed behind the boat and put on the spectacular display the remarkable gamefish is known for. It was angler Mike Foster’s turn on the rod and he got it to the boat in an exciting struggle. The fish hit along the 30-fathom edge off “Pine Trees,” so Capt. Shawn Rotella and crew Shawn McCurdy were within earshot of the exclamations from nearby surfers who could barely believe their eyes.

The recent “sailfish bite” illustrates an odd twist in local fishing. Kona is the birthplace of the big-game billfish trolling lure and it is here that the lures have been proven so successful for blue marlin, striped marlin, shortbill spearfish and the occasional black marlin. But it is also the reason local schools of sailfish have remained relatively undiscovered.

Sails are so rarely caught on lures that the majority of big-game trollers have caught only one or two in their long fishing careers. On Night Runner, Capt. Shawn has caught 30 in the last three years. The same day Night Runner brought in the 91-pounder, kayaker Devin Hallingstad weighed a 76-pound sail. The day before his “76,” Devin had hooked two other sails simultaneously but both shook free in the pandemonium.

Make no mistake, catching 30 sailfish is just a normal half-day of fishing off Mexico, or even Florida. So we are making no claims to Kona as a sailfish El Dorado.

In fact, other islands in the chain may attract more and better schools. Here is an historical oddity for your Hawaii sailfish file. One historic Hawaii sailfish has been photographed more than any other and been shown constantly around the world even today but has gone nearly unnoticed.

Why? It was caught on June 10, 1970 by the same boat that caught a 1,805 pound blue marlin on the same trip. Everyone who sees the photo is so stunned by the sight of the largest blue marlin ever caught on rod and reel that they don’t notice the sailfish hanging next to it.


In 2015, the charterboat Raptor made big news throughout the year on its way to setting a new Kona record for the number of blue marlin caught in one year. This year Bruce and Carol Herren have been making news for not catching them. When Carol brought in a 350-pound blue last Wednesday, it was their first for 2016.

Carol ended last year with 124 blues, 27 spearfish and 4 striped marlin. The 2015 total for the boat was 146 blues, 32 spears, and 5 stripes.

What happened?

“We aren't fishing as much right now,” Carol said. “We just came out of dry dock after catching up with all the things that fell by the wayside last year. And it has been slow. I think we will be going more now. The water temps are lower and we have had interesting weather lately and a lot of big swells in a row. Last year was one of those years when all the stars align and you could set a goal and complete it.”

Are they going for another record even though they are three months behind?

“We will see how we do,” Carol said. “We didn't really start catching blues last year until about this time.”

The Herrens released their 350-pound blue, as they did with all but 2 last year.


Kona attracts fishermen from all over the world. They find success here, even if they don’t speak the language, simply because they do understand the common language of fishing. That was the case on Tuesday when a father and son pair from China faced off against a 500-pound blue marlin.

The action happened on Anxious with Capt. Neal Isaacs and crew Burr Schumaker. Conversation was so limited that Neal was not even able to provide us with a name.

“The angler’s first name is Unwobin, but that’s the best I could do,” Neals said. “They were a father and son from Canada, of Chinese decent. The father spoke no English and the 16-year old son spoke very little. They had chartered a boat in Honolulu a couple of times in the last couple of years with no luck. Unwobin’s dream was to catch a marlin.

“His dream came true about 10:30 am off the “Caves,” when the fish hit a blue bullet on the stinger line,” Neal said. “It’s our lure for spearfish so the big marlin was definitely a surprise. Following demonstrations by Burr, the young man got the technique of standing-up in the chair quickly and had the marlin to the boat in about 15 minutes. They took many pictures along side the boat and we released a healthy blue marlin.”

Big smiles translate wordlessly in every language.


Though we are still a month or so away from the start of the annual spring ono run, lucky trollers occasionally stumble on a patch of fish that seem to have gotten here early. On Wednesday, the ono lit up the wake of Linda Sue IV. Capt. Jeff Heintz had Randy and Gordy Grepentrot of Mayville, Wisconsin aboard for the hot action. The father/son team boated five ono with several topping the 40-pound mark, Jeff said. For each one boated, another ono shook free so there are more out there waiting for you.

To find them, go south. Jeff hooked his five off Hookena. Be warned. He went back the next day and caught only one. There is another month to go till they compete with each other for lures and fill a lot of fishboxes.

The biggest ono on our Kona list so far this year is a husky 62-pounder but bigger ones have already been caught elsewhere throughout the islands. On Friday, Oahu angler Pauly Luuwai boated his biggest ono in 32 years. The 74-pounder swallowed a live bait on a 150-pound test mahimahi rig. Catching it was a miracle because the teeth should have snipped that leader like a knife going through butter.


On Thursday, kayaker Devin Hallingstad filled the Big-Fish List uku spot with a 17.5-pound gray snapper. Devin was towing a live opelu behind his plastic paddle boat and paused for a quick, two-minute rest. While his kayak drifted, his bait settled down deeper and deeper until it reached the level of the waiting uku. The toothy-jawed snapper hammered the foot-long baitfish at the edge of the reef and hooked itself, Devin said.

If you find an uku at the fishmarket, snap it up. Devin says it tastes great in every way you can prepare a fish. He likes it sliced thin and served as sashimi, but he also enjoys it sauteed in a garlic-butter sauce or served in tacos.

Although Devin’s uku gets special mention as the biggest so far in 2016, he caught three bigger fish that day. He also loaded his small craft with a 76-pound-sailfish, a mahimahi and ono. All on live opelu.


Jack Leverone was pulling in trolling lines at the end of the day when he noticed something odd about the last lure to reach the boat. Something was draped over the head of the lure and wouldn’t shake free as the lure bounced across the surface. On close inspection, Jack’s “catch” turned out to be a string of flyingfish eggs.

Malolo roe sticks to objects at sea, which makes the eggs less vulnerable to predators. The roe is also a delicacy prized by sushi eaters.


In last Monday’s column we reported on the hot fishing action on many boats after they came upon a dead whale floating a few miles offshore. Thanks to Ray and Solly Valley, you can watch the action on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCx8-e2VW_o. The father and son anglers are from Vancouver, Canada and fish here frequently.

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, 802, Lou Groebner, Capt. Rocky Gauron, Go Get Em. Mar. 1.
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, 54, Nick Humpries, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner, Feb. 26
Sailfish, 91, Mike Foster, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Mar. 24.
Mahimahi, 53, Nainoa Murtagh, Aulani. Feb. 10.
Ono, 62, Charlie Ford, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Mar. 18.
Kaku, (barracuda), (vacant)
Kahala, 70, Jessica Yell, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Jan 22.
Ulua (giant trevally), 69, Sawyer Slattery, Capt. Kenny Llanes, Lehuanani. Feb 22.
Omilu (bluefin trevally), (vacant)
Otaru (skipjack tuna), 26, Randolph Fort, Capt. James Dean, Blue Hawaii. Marc 7.
Broadbill swordfish, (vacant)
Ahipalaha (albacore), (vacant)
Kawakawa, 16.5, Capt. Chip Fischer, Hanamana. Mar. 3.
Kamanu (rainbow runner), (vacant)
Opakapaka (pink snapper), 9.5. Butch Chee, Sueto Matsumoto, Sandee. Mar. 12.
Onaga (ulaula ko`aie), 19.5, Greg Hong, Kevin Shiraki, Erin Kai. Feb 25.
Uku (gray snapper), 17.5, Devin Hallingstad, kayak. Mar. 24.
O`io (bonefish), (vacant)

Report by Jim Rizzuto

Already registered or a premium member? Log in
Otherwise, Register for free below, or Try Premium Free Now.