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Scrambled Spring Season in Kona Fishing Report - May 13, 2015

Date of trip: May 13, 2015
Posted May 13, 2015 by FishTrack Member
  • Brothers Kaulike and Oskie Rice boated a 217-pound ahi while fishing on their boat Kaulana. Kaulike said it was the first time they had fished together in 8 years. Photo courtesy of The Charter Desk at Honokohau Harbor. 1 of 3
  • Gary Carter fished for 2-lb and 4-lb class record spearfish on the Charterboat Pursuit with Capt. Jason Holtz. His 2-lb class challenger (shown) weighed 35.5 pounds. The 4-lb class challenger weighed 34.5-pounds, which is enough to tie the record. 2 of 3
  • On a half day charter, guests scrambled together a mix of ono, mahimahi, and spearfish. Photo courtesy of Night Runner. 3 of 3
This is a scrambled spring season, for sure. What’s that mean? Well, let’s see by running down a checklist of Kona’s offshore gamefish.

On Thursday, Topshape tagged and released an 85-pound striped marlin and 3 spearfish weighing 30, 25, and 20 pounds. That’s a perfectly normal catch — for January. The annual run of spearfish and striped marlin arrived two months late and seems to be hanging around past its normal time. While you might run over an occasional stripe or spear at any time of year, the fleet is reporting them daily with no end in sight.

The guys on the charterboat Pursuit have been very happy to capitalize on the spate of spearfish by looking for light tackle world records. With angler Cary Carter on the rod, Capt. Jason Holtz found International Gamefish Association line class record contenders for 2-pound and 4-pound tackle. If you want to see what ultra-light tackle fishing for spearfish looks like, Jason posted a video of the fight on youtube at youtube.com/watch?v=esIDU--LnZE&feature=youtu.be

The blue marlin we are seeing now are more typical of the smaller blues that are usually here during the normal mid-winter run of stripes and spears. Foxy Lady tagged a 110 pounder and Camelot a 125, for example. Other boats have reported even smaller blues in the 60- to 80-pound range. That’s the perfect size to hide among the striped marlin and use them for living shields. To reaffirm the camoflage point, Camelot released a 130-pound striped marlin on Monday.

Bigger blues are here but spread out sparsely. Each week we’ve been able to report some 500-pounders and an occasional “six” or “seven,” but no giants. The biggest weighed here last week was a 311.5-pounder on Sundowner. What happened?

March is the month with the most grander blues over the past half century, but this year’s March grander turned up in February. April has often been a good month for big blues. Once in the not-too-distant past, the first week of April produced two granders. This year’s April granders will probably show up during the main tournament season of July and August. Nothing wrong with that.

The year’s most significant ahi run usually reaches Kona sometime between mid-May and mid-June and then stays here through the summer until mid-September. The most dedicated ahi fishermen can usually find a few throughout the year. The “off-season” run usually is dominated by smaller fish in the 80- to 150- pound range. The daily catch for Thursday is typical of off-season fish. High Noon came in with a 144-pounder, Cherry Pit II caught tuna weighing 95 and 100, Northern Lights got a pair scaling at 118 and 121 and the private boat Miss Ruby boated a 92-pounder. In fact, the catch report is loaded with ahi on every day.

We know the tuna run is in high gear when the 200 pounders become common. In last week’s column, we reported a 233-pounder (largest of the year) on Cherry Pit II. On Saturday, brothers Oskie and Kaulike Rice brought their skiff Kaulana into Honokohau with a 215-pounder, and the Cox family weighed a 203. Maybe the spring run is on but we won’t know for sure until they leave the offshore schools and begin feeding along the inshore ledges. If so, we can be heartened by a Sunday report from Christopher Choy. He sent us a photo of a nice tuna he had just pulled aboard the Sea Genie II, with the telling message “They are here. Blind strike.”

In the best of years, May welcomes the spring ono run. We saw increasing numbers of these lingtening-bolt strikers in mid-April. The catch reports keep growing in numbers but not in size. The typical ono of late has ranged from 15- to 20-pounds. On the other hand, Capt. Bill Casey found some bigger ones, 37- and 46.5-pounds, for his guests aboard Marlin Grando. The fish are spread out to the bewilderment of many ono fishermen who leave port with high hopes but can’t find fish. Night Runner always seems to find them and ended their Friday charter with four ono, a spearfish, and a mahimahi. Skipper Shawn Rotella said there were so many ono that he had to stop fishing for them after catching a few. “Makes for very happy charters,” Shawn said.

Mahimahi? Definitley a few around though they are coming off their early spring abundance. Sunday’s morning catch on Sea Wife II came in with a nice scrambled-together catch of ono, mahimahi and aku.


The biggest Pacific blue marlin ever caught on rod and reel is also the one most overlooked. In many places on the Internet you’ll find references to the greatest catches ever made and see no mention of the 1,805-pound blue marlin caught off Waianae on June 10, 1970. When I have challenged editors on their oversight, they shake their finger at me and tell me that it was not caught by the strict regulations of the International Gamefish Association. I tell them to watch their language. You can’t say “the largest blue marlin ever landed weighed 1,376 pounds” (that’s the IGFA record) without at least mentioning the many bigger rod and reel catches made here.

But that lack of recognition is about to change, thanks to the efforts of the sponsors of the Kewalo Big Fish Challenge fishing tournament to be held in Honolulu on June 6. The tournament and associated festival are intended to honor “Choy’s Monster,” so named because the 1,805 pounder was caught by a party fishing with Capt. Cornelius Choy on his boat Coreene C.

The sponsors are putting up a $10K guaranteed purse which, according to Capt. Jody Bright, is the first of its kind in Hawaii. They are also offering a $50K bounty for anyone who catches a fish bigger than the 1,805-pound Hawaii state record blue.

The event was announced on Tuesday, but it has already drawn entrants and sponsors, Jody said.


Thirty-three boats entered on May 2 and helped raise $5,000 to support activities of “The Big Island Giving Tree,” according to event coordinator Rhonda Bell. Prizes were awarded to teams as follows:

Smallest ono: (1) Melanie 10.5 pounds, (2) Mrs. Dana 12.5, (3) Kalikai 13.75.
Smallest mahimahi: (1) Moses 6.0 pounds, (2) Puniwalani 15, (3) Katie Ann 21.0.
Largest ono: (1) Kalikai 38.0, (2) Puniwalani 30.5, (3) HA329D 19.0.
Largest mahimahi (1) Katie Ann 33.5, (2) Puniwalani 15, (3) Moses 6.0.
Miscelaneous fish: (1) Kalikai 4.5, (2) Poke monster 4.


The Wee Guys Fishing Tournament is now in its 35th year of offering competition between between teams on small boats. The annual event usually draws the largest field of entrants of any Big Island Tournament. With up to 120 openings available, the event usually fills its entry list quickly.

Despite the size of the boats, the competition is always fierce. Last year, Team Pacific Rim captured the Grand Champion title and $400 in prize money by bringing in the heaviest combined haul over the two-day tournament. Tyson Fukuyama,Tom Segovia and Kimo Colson made up the squad. On the first day of the two-day event, the trio hooked a 176-pound marlin and followed it the next day with a 145-pound ahi.


The 3rd annual Kona Crew Classic is just 3 weeks away. The format is intended to accommodate all fishermen from those who fish almost everyday to the weekend warriors and everyone in between, according to spokesman Mike Dakil.

The entry fee is $100 per month for June, July, August and September. Half the pot goes to the biggest fish weighed each month. The other half goes to the biggest fish of the entire event. You can sign up at any time and enter one or all months, Mike said, but only fish weighed in paid months count. The fish must be weighed at The Charter Desk or Bite Me Fish Market to qualify.

“You must be the wireman, driver, or angler of a weighed fish to count,” Mike said. For more details, contact Mike at 817-229-7000 or Shawn Palmer at 808-238-8446.

Tag and Release

May 4: Spearfish (30) Tom Gascoigne, Capt. Kent Mongreig, Sea Wife II
May 4: Blue marlin (180) Dennis Yates, Capt. McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui
May 4: Blue marlin (90) Crow Lazaro, striped marlin (130) David Lazaro, Capt. Chris Hudson, Camelot
May 4: Spearfish (35) Mark Spalding, Capt. Bobby Cherry, Cherry Pit II
May 5: Blue marlin (200) Jennifer Rice, Capt. McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui
May 6: Blue marlin (200) Carol Herren, Capt. Bruce Herren, Raptor
May 6: Spearfish (25) Jennifer Rice, Capt. McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui
May 6: Blue marlin (200) Frank Davis, Capt. James Dean, Blue Hawaii
May 6: Blue marlin (250) Jeff Fowler, Capt. Russ Nitta, Lepika
May 7: Striped marlin (90) Tim Donovan, Capt. David Crawford, Kona Blue
May 7: Blue marlin (110) Marc Vanderslice, Capt. Boyd DeCoito, Foxy Lady
May 7: Spearfish (20, 25, and 35) Andy Mezirow, Capt. Al Gustavson, Topshape
May 8: Spearfish (35 and 40) Nick Allan, Capt. Neal Isaacs, Anxious

Report by Jim Rizzuto

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