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Kona Tournament Recap, No Granders Fishing Report - August 23, 2016

Date of trip: August 23, 2016
Posted August 23, 2016 by FishTrack Member
  • Bella Cole, 7, boated a 40 pound spearfish on Jun Ken Po when the Maui boat visited Kona for a month. Capt. Chris Cole, Bella's dad, runs the boat when it is at home on Maui. Capt Mike Holtz runs Jun Ken Po in Kona with Chris as deckie. 1 of 1
A Kona fishing tournament is never over until the last hook is pulled from the water. What’s more, tournaments here are usually decided as much by the fish missed as the fish caught. So it was for last week’s 26th Tag and Release Tournament (TART 26). Capt. Kevin Nakamaru’s team on Northern Lights 2 won the five-day event only after what the veteran skipper called a “heartburn afternoon” on the final day.

The event was close throughout the week with all five teams in contention. No boat was so far ahead that TART 26 was beyond reach of a lucky team on a hot streak. Going into the final day, the Northern Lights had a chance to put themselves ahead of the pack with a marlin hooked early in the day, but that fish shook free.

Team Marlin Grando with Capt. Bill Casey came from behind in the last two hours to tie the Northern Lights. Northern Lights responded by hooking a fish that would have put them ahead, but that one shook free, too. In the final 15 minutes, Marlin Grando hooked what would have been the tie-breaker, but it turned out to be a heart breaker when it “pulled hook.”

That left both teams tied in points, so the victory was decided by a “count back” tie-breaker unique to tagging tournaments. The team that scored the last of the tying points first got the victory. It doesn’t get closer than that.

The annual TART competitons are produced by TV producer Ken Corday (Days of our Lives). Ken fished on Marlin Grando and tagged two blues on Day Two.

In one significant way, TART 26 is still going. On Day One, Northern Lights 2 sent one of its two tagged fish off with a satellite tag. The expensive device was sponsored by team member Masa Matsushita of Japan. For the next three months, the tiny computer will be recording data about the marlin’s travels. In 90 days, the unit’s leash will release, the tag will pop to the surface, and the transmitter will bounce the data off a satellite and then down to a waiting computer on the west coast. Once the computer sorts out the numbers, marlin scientists will have a record of everywhere the TART 26 marlin went.

Kevin has had a lot of experience in sweating out a tournament right through its last seconds. The Hawaii Billfish Series Kona Shootout ended in a nail-biter for Northern Lights 2 just the day before TART 26 began.

Kevin’s team was in the lead right up to the last 20 minutes of the Shootout. Then Sea Genie 2 hooked a marlin and fought it to the boat. Just as Capt. Gene Vanderhoek’s Sea Genie 2 tagged its fish, Northern Lights 2 hooked up. Kevin’s angler successfully brought the marlin to the tag stick with just minutes left. The two teams ended tied with three tags apiece. This time, it was Kevin’s team that lost out on the “count back” and Sea Genie 2 took the top slot.


In 2015, the Big Island stunned the blue marlin world with five granders (marlin of 1,000 pounds or more). So far, no Kona grander this year. What a difference a year makes. In the Azores on Saturday, the boat Xacara boated a 1,042-pound blue marlin to score the world’s fifth blue marlin grander.

So far in 2016, grander blue marlin have been caught in Cape Verdes (1,290 and 1,234 pounds), Raiatea (1,034), and Tonga (1,065), but not yet in Hawaii.

The Azores catch featured a captain well known here from an outstanding catch last year. Capt. Olaf Grimkowski was aboard Hammaton off Ascension Island when Kona girl Jada Holt boated a 1,305-pound blue to set the ladies’ Atlantic blue marlin world record.

Granders have been seen here this year and Kona’s first of the year could be on the line any day now.


On Friday, the charterboat Ahi Lani hooked a 110-pound ahi in what seems like an unlikely place. Cyrus Widhalm says the fish hit an ono lure as Ahi Lani was turning out of ono lane. Being world travlers, ahi are usually found well offshore — even far offshore. Ono lane is just outside the surfline in waters from 30 to 40 fathoms.

But ahi along the inner ledges is a sign that it is still summer.

The Ahi Lani’s experience recalls an interesting ahi study conducted along the Kona Coast about three decades ago. Back then, “electronic tagging” meant attaching a beeper to a live ahi and then following in a boat equipped with a transponder to pick up the beeps. On the occasion in mind, the follow boat was stunned — and then alarmed — when their tagged ahi headed inshore and then ran fast along the shoreline. At times, the tuna was in water so shallow the skipper feared they might hit an unseen bottom feature.

But the ahi definitely knew where it was going. It turned and headed straight offshore following a direct route to a FAD. After fooling around at the buoy, it took off straight for another FAD many miles away. And from there to a third FAD before they finally lost it (or it lost the beeper).

Why would ahi be in so close? The most obvious answer is to feed on opelu, which school in 20 to 30 fathoms. I may have a better answer. I’m working my way through a recent paper on the bioenergetics of tunas. It’s really heavy going. Don’t expect to hear my findings for awhile.


It’s a war offshore, and I am not talking about the intense competition between tournament teams. You will understand by watching two videos online.

The first one shows action aboard Capt. Kenny Fogarty’s boat Makana Lani. As Kenny’s angler, Stu, pulls in a 150-pound ahi, you’ll see a mako shark come up behind it and grab it by the tail. The guy in the chair is now fighting a tuna and a shark while the shark tries to wrest the tuna away. I won’t spoil the ending for you. Go to youtube and search for the video titled MrHawaii02.

The second shows what happens when a school of mahimahi is approached by a pod of rough-toothed dolphins (the guys here call them “stenos,” pronounced “steen nos”). You soon see why mahimahi travel in schools, how they pack up tightly to present a much larger profile, and swim in formation to seem more formidable. The video is the work of Ray Mohammed, who fishes here regularly. Last year, Ray caught Kona’s biggest mahimahi of the year. This year, he is on the list with the largest skipjack tuna. Go to youtube and search for Ray Valley.

Kona Iki Trollers Events coming up

The Kona Iki Trollers Light Tackle Tournament is set for August 27. It’s followed by the Fellowship Tournament on September 10 and the Awards Banquet on November 12. Not a member? That’s easy. Join. For more information, contact any of three board members. Eric Vonderahe (President): (808) 896-4821, Paulette Pama (V.P): (808) 640-8501, or Steve Fassbender (Chairman):(808) 936-7691

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, 865, Louis Paulo and grandson Kalamaokalani Kelekolio-Crivello, Anela okaikea. April 16.
Black marlin, 310, Tim Flint, Capt. Butch Chee, Duck Soup, June 21
Ahi, 233, David Diaz, Capt. Bobby Cherry, Cherry Pit II, June 5
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), 49.5, Koi Lorance and Tyson Fukuyama, Miki. May 7.
Kahala, 70, Jessica Yell, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. Jan 22.
Ulua (giant trevally), 74, Bochan Johnson, from shore. Apr 3.
Omilu (bluefin trevally), 18.5, Mikey McCrum, Shoreline. May 13
Otaru (skipjack tuna), 28. 5, Ray Mohammond, Capt. Jim Wigzell, Go Get Em
Broadbill swordfish, 224, Matthew Bolton, Kahele, June 14
Ahipalaha (albacore), 52.5, Devin Hallingstad, kayak, Aug 13
Kawakawa, 23, Tom Schachet, Capt. Shawn Rotella, Night Runner. July 1
Kamanu (rainbow runner), 12.5. Tom Britton, kayak. Apr. 13
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), 31, Josh Fulton, kayak. July 31.
O`io (bonefish), (vacant)

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

August 15: Blue marlin (549) Bronson Cablay, Kaikane
August 17: Blue marlin (695) Salem Alsabah, Capt. Joe Schumaker, Fire Hatt

Tag and Release

August 15: Blue marlin (180) Will Blowers, Capt. Boyd DeCoito, Foxy Lady
August 15: Blue marlin (125) Brett Williams, (150) Grant Williams, Capt. Marlin Parker, Marlin Magic II
August 15: Blue marlin (150) Meredith, Capt. Jeff Kahl, Piper
August 16: Blue marlin (500) Nick DeVito, Capt. James Dean, Blue Hawaii
August 16: Blue marlin (220) Jennifer Ahearn, Capt. Kenny Fogarty, Hula Girl
August 16: Blue marlin (275) Chris Iseley, Capt. Scott Fuller, JR's Hooker
August 16: Blue marlin (120 and 160) Matt Johnson, Capt. Marlin Parker, Marlin Magic II
August 17: Blue marlin (225) Ablat Kabashi, Capt. Scott Fuller, JR's Hooker
August 17: Blue marlin (125) Travers Clark, (350) Matt Clark, Capt. Tim Hicks, Illusions
August 17: Blue marlin (175) Matt Billington, Capt. Steve Tarbill, Miss Mojo
August 17: Blue marlin (175) Eduardo Bigot, spearfish (25) Phillipe Bigot, Capt. Chris Choy, Sapo
August 17: Blue marlin (150) Alex Uy, Capt. Chip Fischer, Hanamana
August 18: Blue marlin (700) Logan Grubb, Capt. Reuben Rubio, Sundowner
August 18: Blue marlin (150) Will Clayton, Capt. Chris Cawthon

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