Kona Hawaii fishing report - April wrap-up
Kona is the Pacific blue marlin capital of the world for more reasons than one. First, it a year round fishery. There's usually at least one marlin brought in each day even in the off-season. Second, we can get a good blue marlin run any month of year and third, we beat every other destination with the size of our marlin. It's size that I want to focus on in this months report. With any fish species there is a "magic number" to claim the big bragging right prize. With blue and black marlin alike, that number is 1000 lbs. also known as a "Grander". The last grander marlin caught in Hawaii was a little over a year ago and was caught by Matt Prater while fishing with me on the Intrepid. We came close to loosing that "grander" status when three sharks attacked our fish while we were trying to get it in the boat and they ate over 150+ lbs. of meat off in less than a minute. It still came in with a little weight to spare at 1056 lbs. Most granders are closer to the 'make it or break it' weight. Last year in November the "Hooked up" caught a 975 pounder and followed it up in February this year with a 914 pounder. In April this year the "Marlin Magic" brought in a 940 pounder. Close but no cigar. Just last week another beast was brought in on the "Sundowner" and while being hoisted up on the scale the number hit 1005 lbs. but….. oooops… no one taped or tied the marlin's mouth shut. Half digested fish, squid and liquid started pouring out of it's mouth and the scale finally settled out at 990 lbs. While the captain, Randy Llanes is far from being a rookie, it is none the less a rookie mistake. I know because I'm still beating myself up for doing the same thing on my big black marlin although it still remains the biggest black caught in Hawaii this decade. On mine, the scale hit 871 lbs. and then two mahi mahi and two tuna fell out bringing the weight down to 843 lbs. While it's still holding the record, I've always said that if someone beats me out by less than 871 lbs., I'll sure be sorry about that mistake. As things turn out, Randy's dad, also a well seasoned Kona charter captain (retired) made the same mistake some years back and also lost the famous "grander" status with a marlin that settled out at 985 lbs. Just to let you know how important those stomach contents can be, the largest marlin ever brought in on rod and reel was a blue marlin caught here in Hawaii and weighted in at 1805 lbs. That fish had swallowed a 150 lb. yellowfin tuna that they were fighting. The tuna got caught in the marlins throat and the marlin gagged to death on it. The marlin was weighed with the tuna still in. Years later there was a 1656 pounder caught and the captain claimed that his fish was actually the biggest ever caught pointing out the 150 lb. tuna but, his fish was also weighed with the stomach contents still in the fish. I'm sure there was more than a pound of something in there.
Yellowfin tuna of all sizes are being caught right now but the big news for the month is the numbers and sizes of bigeye tuna being caught. We usually don't see many of those here but we had a good run on them this month with the biggest weighing in at 223 lbs. Mahi mahi and ono remain a fairly common catch. In fact, the commercial fishermen that have been hitting the ono hard down by South Point are now finding them hard to sell because the markets are flooded with them already.
The bottom bite remains good with a combination of jacks and sharks biting. With amberjack, that "magic number" is 100 lbs. The biggest of the year was weighted in last month at 99.5 lbs. and was caught from a kayak. I also caught a big one last month and I know it was over the 100 lb. mark but it came in strong and healthy. I didn't want to kill it for publicity's sake so I tagged and released it. Shark fishing is gaining popularity in Kona so more and more boats are targeting them. Tiger sharks are fairly plentiful here and the "magic number" for those is also 1000 lbs. The average weight of tiger sharks here in Hawaii is right around 1000 lbs. so your chances of catching a "grander" is much better with tigers than with marlin. I catch and release several tigers a year with at least one going well over the1000 lb. mark. I don't see any reason to kill 'em for publicity's sake and I'm glad that there's at least one other captain here that feels the same way. Captain Gene Vander Hoek is no stranger to 1000+ lb. fish. In fact he has landed three 1000+ marlins, more than any captain in Kona and has even released some. He recently released a tiger that he estimated at 1300 lbs! Knowing Capt. Gene, he was probably underestimating the weight. The option to kill or release varies widely from boat to boat. I don't think it's right to be dogmatic about doing either one. Killing a huge healthy fish that isn't good for food but killed just for the publicity is something I've done in the past but shy away from doing now but that doesn't mean I would never do it again. Releasing a fish that you know would make all the papers is also something I have done in the past. On both accounts, it's no use saying I should have, would have or could have. It's now history.
See 'ya on the water ,
Capt. Jeff Rogers
About The Author: Captain Jeff Rogers
Company: Hawaii Sport Fishing
Area Reporting: Kona Hawaii
Bio: Whether you're looking for that big trophy catch of a lifetime, some delicious fish to take home or just wanting to catch fish after fish after fish until your arms are too weak to haul in another, I'll do my best to give you the best Hawaii fishing trip you've ever had!