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Lure-Makers Challenge Produces Hot Fishing Fishing Report - September 22, 2015

Date of trip: September 22, 2015
Posted September 22, 2015 by FishTrack Member
  • Mike Kehoe (beard and sunglasses) of Team Ihu Nui I boated the biggest marlin of the September Lure-Maker's Challenge to top Team Ihu Nui II. The 671-pound blue was a last-minute surprise. Photo courtesy of The Charter Desk at Honokohau Harbor. 1 of 2
  • During the Lure-Makers Challenge Tournament, angler Craig Chambers boated a 652-pound blue on Ihu Nui II with Capt. Tony Clark. The fish hit a Koya 614 made by Eric Koyanagi. 2 of 2
If lure brands make a difference, then every fishing day is an informal lure-maker’s challenge. It’s one simple challenge to see if your lure will even catch a fish and a more exciting challenge to see if it will catch more than the ones made by other craftsmen.

Why not make the informal daily challenges formal? That was Captain Jody Bright’s idea when he remade his annual September Challenge Tournament into a battle between lure-makers as well as fishing teams.

The three-day event took place over the weekend and produced astonishing results along with intense competition. Nineteen boats entered the team competition, 8 lure-makers accepted the challenge, and 45 marlin cooperated during the first two days alone.

As Day Three began Sunday morning, Polu Kai Lures was in a fierce battle with Black Bart Lures for most points, and Koya lures had accounted for the biggest fish.

Craig Chambers caught the big one, 652.6-pounds, on Ihu Nui II with Capt. Tony Clark. Ihu Nui II was wandering out in the deep over a bottom 2500 fathoms down when the fish hit a Koya 614 lure. Craig got it to the boat in about an hour.

Made here in Kona by Eric Koyanagi, Koya lures have been a big winner throughout the year. Three of Kona’s five granders in 2015 were taken on Koya’s big Tube lure or large Poi Dog lure. Tony says that he has caught over 100 marlin on the Koya 614 since Eric began making the model a few years ago. Eric makes his lures one at a time with a lot of attention to detail. They are staples in pro-shop fishing stores here and around the world. The results look like museum pieces but do the hard work of handling fish of all sizes while taking a beating in the process.

Team Northern Lights created the tournament success for Polu Kai Lures with a stunning 5-marlin day on Saturday. Capt. Kevin Nakamaru has been a long-time supporter of the Honolulu lure-making company and routinely uses Polu Kai Lures as part of his daily spread. The company mass-produces lures for suppliers of all kinds including big-box stores like Sports Authority.

“It is interesting that the Polu Kai guys came up with this concept and are battling it out with El Jobean who are sponsored by Black Bart Lures,” Jody said. “And the El Jobean team is fishing on standup tackle, no less.”

Team El Jobean amassed many of their points with a four-marlin day on Saturday. Team captain Larry Peardon was casting around for a big-name sponsor, reached outside Hawaii, and snagged the Black Bart brand.

Black Bart Lures originated here in Kona with prototypes made by Capt. Bart Miller and his hired hands. When Bart left Kona for Florida in the mid-1980s, he packed up his toys, took them with him, and arranged for a manufacturer on the East Coast. After he sold the company, the new owner began making the lures “offshore,” as they say in the business. Rumor has it, they are now made in Africa. If you search for them on eBay, you find models with the notation “Shipped from Croatia.”

So, the many chapters in the Black Bart lure story are still unfolding with the latest one being the new lure-maker’s challenge.

Aloha Lures, made by Capt. Erik Rusnak, have been well represented in the tournament by Capt. Chip Van Mols and his team on the boat Luna. Angler Jada Holt used an Aloha Lures “Smash Bait” to boat a 508.6-pound blue marlin, the second largest catch of the tournament at that time.

With an hour left to go in the event on Sunday, and everyone hanging on until the last minute, the 19-boat fleet had recorded 53 marlin. Two teams had boated blues estimated at over 500 pounds but the true weight was still to come. Team Rod Bender had gotten into the thick of the battle with 4 tags on Sunday — all fish caught on Masunaga Lures made by team captain Kerwin Masunaga.

At the final weigh-in, Team Ihu Nui I topped its sister ship with a 671-pound blue marlin. Capt. Oskie Rice and the crew of Carlton Arai and Kaulike Rice did it with a long-time Kona favorite, the purple Moldcraft Softhead lure. Carlton said the fish came up on a Koya Poi Dog and switched over to the Softhead. Angler Mike Kehoe worked the fish to the boat and gained personal points to move up in the angler’s competition. Pushed out of first place, Capt. Tony Clark, skipper of Ihu Nui II waxed philosophical with “Getting the second biggest is better than coming in last.”

The Moldcraft final catch did nothing to change the top five spots in the Lure-Maker’s division. Black Bart finished first (1400 points), Polu Kai second (1,200), Aloha Lures third (1,108.6), Masunag Lures fourth (1,000) and Koya fifth (542.1). Moldcraft and Marlin Magic tied for sixth with 600 each.

Jody is quick to say that the format was not a scientific test of which lures work best. In fact it might not even be possible to make a true test with all of the controls necessary to assure that an equal numbers of lures from each manufacturer were pulled for equal amounts of time in the same circumstances. As one piscatorial pundit once observed, the sea is never a level playing field.

“This was an inaugural event,” Jody said. “Teams could run complete spreads or partial spreads — whatever they wanted. The two biggest marlin were not even caught by sponsored teams, but then they did not win the lure makers Division. They won the Tournament.”


The Lure-Makers part of the competition relies on the integrity of the fishermen, Capt. Jody Bright said.

“So far guys have been totally honest in reporting if they run a mixed spread and didn’t catch the marlin on their sponsor bait,” Jody said. “But if this gets big, its going to be tempting down the road.”

Lure success translates into lure sales down the line, with more money for lures that are proven winners.

As with all events in the Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series (HMTS), there are competitions within competitions. The Lure-Makers Challenge closes out the HMTS series for 2015 and ends the battle to see which angler scored the most points from beginning to end. In a year when lady anglers have been big news here, the top two contenders are both women in their 20s, Jody said.

Jada Holt was in the top slot with 3,557.2 points and JJ Humprhies in second with 2,396.8. Angler Mike Kehoe was in third place with 2,071 points and his totals for the 671 and three tags from the Lure-Makers Challenge pushed him up closer to Jada at the top.

When all is summed up, the final score will also determine the top boat, and Captain of the year. Pics to come

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

September 18: Blue marlin (508.6) Jada Holt, Capt. Chip Van Mols, Luna
September 18: Blue marlin (652.6) Craig Chambers, Capt. Tony Clark, Ihu Nui II

Tag and Release

September 13: Blue marlin (150) Carol Herren, Capt. Bruce Herren, Raptor
September 14: Blue marlin (250) Carol Herren, Capt. Bruce Herren, Raptor
September 14: Blue marlin (150 and 250) Gene Allen, Capt. Marlin
Parker, Marlin Magic II
September 15: Blue marlin (100) Rudy Wankow, Capt. Reuben Rubio, Sundowner
September 15: Blue marlin (375) Wilma Holcomb, Capt. McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui
September 15: Blue marlin (125) Ron Gilson, Capt. Will Lazenby, Golden Dragon
September 16: Blue marlin (350) Ty Cobb, Capt. Tony Clark, Ihu Nui II
September 16: Blue marlin (160) Dene Allen, Capt. Marlin Parker, Marlin Magic II
September 16: Blue marlin (165) Scott Linders, Capt. Guy Terwilliger, High Flier
September 16: Blue marlin (100, 120, 300, and 500) Stephen Cireco,
Capt. Kevin Nakamaru, Northern Lights
September 17: Blue marlin (35) Unknown, Capt. Neil Isaacs, Anxious
September 17: Blue marlin (150) Dave Munro, (300) Keshea Harmon, Capt.
Steve Epstein, Huntress
September 17: Blue marlin (150 and 300) Stephen Cireco, Capt. Kevin
Nakamaru, Northern Lights
September 18: Blue marlin (120) Steve Griffing, Capt. Keoni Llanes, Go Big
September 18: Blue marlin (140, 150, and 150) Jada Holt, Capt. Chip
Van Mols, Luna
September 18: Blue marlin (130) Shane O’Brien, Capt. Kerwin Masunaga, Rod Bender
September 18: Blue marlin (150) John Bawers, Capt. Brian Wargo, Kila Kila
September 18: Blue marlin (130) Larry Peardon, (120) Chris Bays, Capt.
Larry Peardon, El Jobean
September 18: Blue marlin (120) Mike Holtz, Capt. Jason Holtz, Pursuit
September 18: Blue marlin (130, and 150) Mike Kehoe, Capt. Oskie Rice, Ihu Nui
September 18: Blue marlin (175) Nick Wada, Capt. Steve Epstein, Huntress
September 18: Blue marlin (325) Keiichi Yamagishi, (550) Hiroki
Yanagisana, Capt. James Dean, Blue Hawaii
September 19: Blue marlin (130 and 130) Jon Wurster, Capt. Marlin
Parker, Marlin Magic II
September 19: Blue marlin (120, 130, 150, 150, and 200) Nick Wada,
Capt. Kevin Nakamaru, Northern Lights
September 19: Blue marlin (150) David Tubbs, Capt. Neil Isaacs, Anxious
September 19: Blue marlin (100) JJ Humphries, Capt. Gene Vanderhoek,
Sea Genie II
September 19: Blue marlin (300) Greg Johnston, Capt. Joe Schumaker, Fire Hatt
September 19: Blue marlin (100, 150, 150, and 200) Larry Peardon,
Capt. Larry Peardon, El Jobean
September 19: Blue marlin (150) Carol Herren, Capt. Bruce Herren, Raptor
September 19: Blue marlin (150) Rick Shedore, Capt. Scott Fuller, JR’s Hooker
September 19: Blue marlin (140) Nick Cala, Capt. Al Gustavson, Topshape
September 19: Blue marlin (150) Boa Bohtelo, Capt. Trevor Child, Maverick
September 19: Blue marlin (120, and 175) Mel Sary, Capt. Jeff Fay, Humdinger
September 19: Blue marlin (150) Mike Kehoe, Capt. Oskie Rice, Ihu Nui

September 18: Ahi (142.1) John Bawers, Capt. Brian Wargo, Kila Kila

Report by Jim Rizzuto

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