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Kona Offshore Update Fishing Report - April 12, 2016

Date of trip: April 12, 2016
Posted April 12, 2016 by FishTrack Member
  • Cherry Pit II caught ten mahimahi from a big school surrounding a derelict skiff that had drifted into Kona waters. The abandoned boat was most likely set adrift by the Japan tsunami of March 2011. Photo courtesy of Capt. Bobby Cherry. 1 of 4
  • Some say catching an ulua from a boat is child's play. Tony and Mari Rizzuto agree. Photo by Jim Rizzuto 2 of 4
  • Bochan Johnson landed (not boated) a 74-pound ulua to give the giant trevally lead to a shore caster. Land-based fishermen are convinced that ulua are much harder to catch from shore than by boat. Photo courtesy of The Charter Desk at Kona Marina. 3 of 4
  • Eddie Carvalho Jr. of Waimea landed an 8-pound omilu while whipping from shore along the Hamakua post. Photo by Eddie Carvalho Jr. 4 of 4
Five years after the Japan tsunami of March 2011, the flotsam from the catastrophe continues to drift into Hawaii waters, bringing surprises with it. On Wednesday, the surprise was an overturned skiff surrounded by a huge school of mahimahi. Floating objects attract mahimahi and other fish for reasons even the fish don’t know. Big schools like this one are usually aggressively hungry because they have already eaten everything smaller that may have come within range of their greedy jaws.

Cherry Pit II was among the first boats on the scene. Capt. Bobby Cherry’s guests aboard his firey red, 28-footer were the Jan Harris party from Oregon. When Bobby made his first pass around the edge of the school, the quickest fish raced out and grabbed his trolling lures.

To keep things under control in the wake of his fishing machine, Bobby was trolling only two lures at a time. The well-organized strategy prevented tangles and guided the thrashing fish safely into the big fish box mounted on his swim step.

Other fishermen saw the stop-and-go, fish-fighting maneuvers of the early arriving boats and headed to the action. By the time Cherry Pit’s guests had pulled in seven mahimahi, the small area around the derelict Japanese boat had become too crowded to troll lures. Bobby switched to the three baits staying alive in his tuna tubes, and the lively trio accounted for three more of the bright golden fighters.

After fighting 10 mahimahi, some as big as 25 pounds, Bobby’s party was more than happy to say “uncle” and head back to port.

Other boats stayed with the slow-drifting derelict, some catching as many as 20 or 30 according to some reports. Undoubtedly, most of the mahimahi went to market as did all but one of the Cherry Pit’s ten. Bobby cut up the 10th to share with his clients.

If you have been eating mahimahi lately, you have probably also shared in the lucky bounty of the unlucky vagabond’s five-year random voyage.

Mahimahi fishing is a feast-or-famine enterprise. You rarely find them wandering aimlessly in the blind. You catch them around floaters or almost never. There have been few mahimahi here throughout the winter “floater” season.

What happened to the overturned skiff? Several others that have been found in the past year or two have been pulled ashore, repaired and put back in service by the finders-keepers. This one seems to have disappeared entirely on its way elsewhere. Perhaps no one risked incurring the wrath of other fishermen who didn’t want the cycle to end.


On Sea Wife II, Capt. Kent Mongreig had been catching shortbill spearfish or striped marlin on nearly every trip. Then the fishing seemed to shut off for both species as though nature had flipped a giant switch. Kent is out there on the hunt every day so he’s a good lad to talk with about what’s going on.

“A cold front came through and shut the fishing down,” Kent said. “We’ve had a few bites but nothing stuck. Prior to that, we were doing really well.

“Water temperature is staying normally cool for this time of year, about 77 degrees,” Kent said. “But the currents have been crazy.”

Kent went looking for fish around the “cage buoy” on his last trip and saw an odd current phenomenon.

“The current had pulled the buoy to its furthest south set, but the top current was heading north,” Kent said. “The current is splitting somewhere down below a little ways with the top and bottom going in opposite directions. Maybe the current will correct itself and turn the fishing on again.”

It seems like it is already happening.

At press time, Marlin Magic II reported in with a 100-pound striped marlin on the deck and a 200-pound blue marlin release. This could be a very good week, currents and cold fronts permitting.


Shore casters fish for ulua (giant trevally) at night from the rocky cliffs along the Big Island’s most inaccessible stretches of coastline. They go through a lot to get to their spots, camp out overnight under difficult circumstances, and then battle the crags and snags as they fight to get their catch ashore. Their distain for ulua fishermen who catch their giant trevally from the ease and comfort of boats is understandable.

So one of the friendly battles in our “biggest ulua” competition is to see whether boaters or shorecasters can catch the biggest.

Good news for the shoreline fellows and gals this week. Shore caster Bochan Johnson took over the ulua lead on Monday with a 74-pounder.

Boat fishermen are likely to respond with a hearty “na-na na-na boo boo.” Hawaii’s all-time ulua record is a 191-pounder caught on an opelu bait fished off Maui — from a boat.


The oddest “catch” of the week is a “non-catch.” The omilu (bluefin trevally) spot on our Big-Fish List has now been vacant three and a half months into 2016. That’s a surprise. Omilu are common and not very hard to catch. They can be caught by casting with lures, dunking baits, and bottomfishing with bait or jigs from boats. The vacancy is our “no-catch” mystery.

I thought we had finally had a space filler when I saw an omilu caught by Eddie Carvalho Jr of Waimea. Eddie had caught the 8.5-pounder on an Outbluff Lure while casting from shore.

I got all the details about his equipment to share. An 11-foot Tsunami Airwave and a Penn Fierce 6000 reel with 65 pound test Power Pro line.

That’s expert tackle and Eddie has had great success in the past by slide-bait fishing for ulua and omilu. His biggest ulua weighed 77-pounds and biggest omilu 21 pounds.

Over the past two years, Eddie has switched over to the exciting sport of whipping for ulua and omilu with plugs. Except that it has not yet turned out to be so exciting for him. This is his first catch on a whipped plug. After hours and hours of burning shoulders and 500- to 1,000-casts, he finally caught one.

So maybe they aren’t so easy to catch after all.

Why isn’t Eddie’s omilu sitting in a place of honor on the BFL? He caught it over on the Hamakua side of the island, and we reserve the BFL for great catches on the Kona side.


The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has finally approved Jada Holt’s 1,305-pound Atlantic blue marlin catch as the women’s Atlantic blue marlin record. Jada boated the historic fish while fishing off Ascension Island with an almost all Hawaii crew. Capt. Bryan Toney was at the helm throughout the fight with Jada’s dad, Capt. Chip Van Mols and husband Dan Holt set to handle the leader and gaff at the end. Capt. Olaf Grimkowski was aboard to provide the local Ascension Island knowledge.

The Hawaii contingent is all back home impatiently planning their next venture to the seas off Ascension, halfway around the world.

Meanwhile, Bryan is trying something new to get ready for his next grander here in Hawaii. Acting on the knowledge that big marlin snack on shortbill spearfish, Bryan is now towing a 42-inch long “lure” made to look and swim like a shortbill spearfish.

Last week he caught worldwide attention by posting a photo of a grander blue marlin jumping behind his boat with the artificial shortbill swinging from the leader.

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, 160.5, Jim Ives, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Mar. 30.
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), 74, Bochan Johnson, from shore. Apr 3
Omilu (bluefin trevally), (vacant)
Otaru (skipjack tuna), 26, Randolph Fort, Capt. James Dean, Blue Hawaii. Marc 7.
Broadbill swordfish, (vacant)
Ahipalaha (albacore), (vacant)
Kawakawa, 18, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Apr. 2.
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)

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

None weighed

Notable Releases

April 4: Blue marlin (210) John Cole, Capt. Steve Epstein, Huntress
April 8: Blue marlin (125) Alex Keith, Capt. Steve Epstein, Huntress
April 8: Striped marlin (100) David Garirtod, Capt. Al Gustavson, Topshape
April 9: Blue marlin (200) Michelle Bernardo, Capt. Steve Tarbill, Kona Concept
April 9: Blue marlin (125) David Hinderager, Capt. Kenny Fogarty, Hula Girl

Notable Catches

April 3: Ulua (74) Bochan Johnson, from shore.
April 3: Ono (40.5) Carolina Felicia, Capt. Tracy Epstein, Last Chance
April 6: Mahimahi (10 fish to 25 pounds), Jan Harris, Capt. Bobby Cherry, Cherry Pit II

Report by Jim Rizzuto

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