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Top Kona Catches of the Week Fishing Report - January 17, 2017

Date of trip: January 17, 2017
Posted January 17, 2017 by FishTrack Member
  • Stuart Clements and Brandon Wilder haul the year's heaviest bigeye tuna aboard the High Noon with Capt. Jah Nogues. Photo courtesy of High Noon Sportfishing. 1 of 4
  • For folks who don't know what an opakapaka looks like, here is the 14.5 pounder resting in the top slot for the year to date. Caught Greg Hong on Kevin Shiraki's boat Erin Kai. 2 of 4
  • Captain Carleton "Squid Eye" Arai and Captain Chris Choy after a session diving for bait. The bigger octopus weighs 11 pounds. Photo courtesy "Squid Eye." 3 of 4
  • ?Crew Ryan Burns, crew on Camelot, with the year's biggest shortbill spearfish, 49 pounds. Photo courtesy of the Charter Desk at Honokohau Harbor. 4 of 4
Who had the best fishing trip of the week? That depends on your favorite game fish. This week, the battle for the mythical title involves bigeye tuna, blue marlin, striped marlin, shortbill spearfish, and ono. And there is no doubt that the best fishing day was Saturday, two days after the full moon with a big high tide at 5:30 am and a deep low at noon.

On High Noon, Capt. Jah Nogues and crew Stuart Clements took advantage of the early tide/big moon combination to put the Kelsey Bestall family of North Dakota on the largest bigeye tuna of the year. High Noon left Honokohau Harbor early, set out the lines after clearing the bay and got the bite immediately. After a 40-minute battle, Kelsey had the fish ready for Stuart’s gaff.

They prepped the fish and got it on ice immediately to avoid any chance of spoilage. In the cleaning process, the tuna lost about 10 pounds of weight. The scale read 121 pounds, making it the largest bigeye ahi of the year. For your notes, we count only the weight presented at the scale when considering fish for the Big-Fish List. We don’t try to compensate for any weight lost in processing a fish.

Jah later found a floater, caught shibi after shibi and ended the morning with a mahimahi. One member of the party told me they pulled in fish until they were tired and would have caught more but for a pesky shark. The toothy critter chomped on some of the fish as they reeled them in. Definitely a busy fishing trip.

If big blue marlin are your game, Saturday was the day for you. And it definitely was for Capt. Chuck Wigzell on EZ Pickens. Chuck found a 650-pound blue for Vicki Pickings, the boat’s owner, which they released in good condition at boatside. If the estimated weight is correct, that’s Kona’s biggest blue so far this year. For obvious reasons, we only count weighed fish for biggest of the year on our Big-Fish List.

On Monday, Anxious made is own claim to best blue marlin trip of the week. Capt. Neal Isaacs and crew Brian Schumaker hosted Dr. Frank Slackman, a heart surgeon from San Francisco for an afternoon half-day trip. Frank brought along his son, Kipp Slackman and Kipp’s girlfriend Jordan Viduna.

Frank once caught a grander black marlin in Australia but has had very little luck with blues here in Kona or elsewhere. Even so, he gave Jordan and Kipp the number one and number two shots at any fish they hooked. Compared to Frank’s extended lack of success, Jordan hooked up soon after they left the harbor. In just the time it took to troll offshore to the 600 fathom line, Jordan had a good fish on. Neal said it was an easy 500 pounds and probably more.

Neal likes to release his catches in good condition so he chases them aggressively with the boat to keep the time short. This one ran out line very quickly as Neal backed down steadily while scanning the water to keep his eye on the line. That’s when he spotted the fish coming right at the boat. He was able to turn in time as the fish passed by a yard or two off the port corner. Jordan had been fishing for a little more than an hour and had one of the beasts of the week.

Brian put the lines out and they trolled around looking for another fish. As soon as they returned to the spot of the original bite, they hooked up again. This time, Kipp pulled in a fish of about 450 pounds. Fishing a little more than two hours, they both caught blues bigger than Dr. Dad had lucked into during many years of trying.

Both anglers got their fish in short time because they stayed up on the surface and didn’t require a lot of angler time and effort to pull them up from the deep.

If there was a secret to Neal’s success, it might be a pink Koya bullet dressed with a Flashabou skirt and run on the stinger. Most of Neal’s bites lately have been on that one. If he wants to make an investment in his own future, Neal might gift Dr. Frank with one like it to take with him on future marlin trips. You never know when you might need a heart surgeon who has especially good reasons to keep you alive.


As Kona’s waters continue to cool, we should see more and bigger striped marlin. Right now, the biggest ones are clustered around the 80-pound mark, which, for the moment, makes the race for biggest a matter of ounces. The title of the 81-pound leader caught on Jan 3 by Illusions looked shaky when two fish on Sea Wife II and Silky looked a bit bigger. Silky’s stripe fell short by 2.5 pounds and Sea Wife’s by a scant half-pound.

On Saturday, Camelot grabbed the shortbill spearfish title with a 49-pounder caught by Paul Marks. Crew Ryan Burns said they knew it had a chance at the lead after they fought if for a while and realized it wasn’t a striped marlin. Ryan said the fish fell for a Black Bart Elk Hunt lure. “Elk Hunt” says nothing about the lure so here is the scoop. It is a round-nose bullet lure ballasted with a lot of lead. Ryan, says he uses a lot of old Black Bart hand-me-downs gathered over many years. He says the secret to making sure he doesn’t lose them is to switch to a new leader after every bite.

The biggest spearfish of the year may have been caught but not weighed. Talexi Ancheta-Ross hauled in a monster shortbill while fishing with Robert Ventura. Talexi is part of the Charter Desk staff, weighs fish daily, and helps keep track of the Big-Fish List. But she was too shy to stake her claim and get her name on the board. Good advice to all of you who catch big fish. Don’t be shy. The Big-Fish List is compiled to help keep a record of the Kona fishery.


Fiona Beck and her Husband Dean Rea chased spearfish light-tackle world records with Capt. Al Gustavson on Topshape last week. They’ve been trolling a five-lure pattern with three 16-pound-class outfits and two of 30-pound-class. Both classes have attainable records based on the size of the shortbills now here.

After no bites all day, they finally got a double strike with two spearfish on at once in the last 45 minutes of the attempt. Fiona grabbed the rod on the first fish that hit. As she started fighting it, Dean was clearing lines when the second fish hit the line he was reeling in. Fiona’s fish jumped off, but Dean couldn’t give her his fish without breaking IGFA rules because he was holding the rod when the fish hit.

All aboard had seen Fiona’s fish when it jumped and were sure it would have been a new Ladies’ record for 16-pound class. Dean’s fish took 3/4ths of the spool of line even though Capt. Al had Topshape in reverse and backing down as rapidly as they could. After they got Dean’s fish, they raced in to maintain its weight while hoping it might break the existing Men’s IGFA world record for 16-pound class. The present record is 43 pounds, 8 ounces. Dean’s fish weighed in at 43 pounds, missing by 8 ounces.

Small consolation: the Men’s 16 is a Kona fish caught back in 2003 by Dave Free.


On Monday, Devin Hallingstad was quietly towing a bait behind his kayak when the year’s biggest (to date) ono latched on. He battled the 47-pounder to the slim craft and boated it while being very careful to avoid its slashing teeth in close quarters. Then he took it to a certified market scale to have the weight verified. Devin has filled slots on the Big-Fish List on many occasions and knows the procedure. If you can’t bring a fish to the Charter Desk for weighing and photographing, find a certified scale at a commercial establishment that buys fish. Photograph the fish on the scale with the digital readout. Get the weigh-person to verify the weight with a signature and email us the details.

As another example of the process, Greg Hong fished with Kevin Shiraki on the Erin Kai on Thursday and pulled up a 14.5-pound opakapaka to take over the ‘paka slot. Kevin, too, weighed his fish on a market buyer’s scale and sent us a photo of the snapper with a weigh slip to verify the type of fish and the exact size.

We don’t usually expect to see a major ono run until around May, but what year is the same as any other in Kona? Ihu Nui headed down the coast to South Point for an overnighter and ran into good catches of ono and shibi (ahi under 100 pounds) for their long distance effort. In addition to a cooler full of red fish taken overnight, they caught 11 ono and 10 shibi with the biggest of each estimated at 40 pounds.

Maybe 2017 will be the year when the May ono run matches the best runs of the best years.


Captains Carlton Arai and Chris Choy are known for the glamorous game of chasing splendid offshore gamefish from luxurious vessels with polished teak and brilliantly shined flanks. Last week, Carlton and Chris set aside their Captain’s credentials and returned to their roots as “Squid Eye” Arai and Chris “The Spear” Choy. Donning masks and flippers, they carefully perused the bottom in search of the sullen critter known here by many names — tako, squid, and octopus.

Carlton is especially good at recognizing holes that have “squid” just by looking at the pattern of sand and shells surrounding the opening. Such skill is, of course, precisely what we mean by saying he has “squid eye.” At this time of year, we might all have squid eye just because so many of the bigger octopuses are out of their holes and sitting atop the coral lumps nearby.

However, it happened, Carlton pointed, Chris shot his spear, and the boys came back up draped with the yard-long tentacles of an 11-pound tako. That’s a lot of ulua bait. Or a luau full of octopus poke.

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