Kona does it again!! First "Grander" marlin of the year. We usually do. I say usually because last year we were just 6 days late to being the first in the world but that rarely happens. We are THE blue marlin capital of the world. The 1058 pounder was caught by a 16 year old kid in just 30 minutes with the marlin coming in DOA, belly up at the boat. It happens more often than you would think. When a marlin gets hooked, they usually start jumping all over the place trying to shake the hook out. In most cases, they're successful at spitting the hook out. Statistically, most marlin are able to shake the hook out before the angler can even get to the fighting chair. Of the ones that do stay on the line long enough to get an angler on the other end of the line, a fair number of those are lost too. Usually due to angler error but you can bet that this 16 year old angler didn't make any mistakes. He's the grandson of famous Kona fishing sports writer Jim Rizzuto and has been fishing since he was only two. He also worked as crew on a charter boat here in Kona for a summer at the ripe old age of 15. The crew of the Ihu Nui that hooked the grander is also one of the best in the world. Just a couple of months ago in my December report I mentioned that they landed a marlin just 4 pounds shy of the grander mark and this is now their 3rd career grander. The majority of career captains here won't even catch one grander status marlin. It's always a combination of skill and luck that gets you that big fish but for a grander; skill is what makes that happen.
The most common catch for the month has been mahi mahi with spearfish coming in a close 2nd. Winter isn't mahi mahi season but they've been around all winter so far. We're in the middle of striped marlin season but so far, it hasn't been a good one. Only small schools scattered far and few between. The ahi bite has slowed down a little since last month but I'm going to take this time to clarify something. To us Hawaii fishermen, an "ahi" is a yellowfin tuna that weighs 100 or more pounds. Yellowfin tuna that weigh less are known as "shibi". While the grocery stores label it all "ahi" at any size, us fishermen like to know what's biting without having to go into detail. In fact, a lot of the fish over here change names depending on the size. It's a Hawaiian thing. The shibi have been biting quite well around the FAD's so along with a good spearfish and mahi mahi bite happening, cutting up fish for my customers has been a common thing. Warning, find out what your captains policy is on keeping fish BEFORE you book a trip.
I've been trying different bottom fishing techniques and trying to come up with one on my own but what got me into and successful at bottom fishing first was a technique called speed jigging. It's a very labor intensive way to fish and I haven't been doing it for some time now after I got my shoulder dislocated by a shark. I had a guy that came to mostly speed jig and because it was just one guy, I got to jig next to him all day. We tagged and released 10 amberjacks, 5 almaco jacks and scored 3 tunas in about 5 hours. Then the sharks found us and that was the end of the jigging action. The shoulder did OK. The next day I went back and scored 4 more jacks on jigs before a shark ate the last one we were fighting. There must have been several sharks there because on later trips I found that the jacks had vacated the area. I finally scored a couple of GT's while bottom fishing this month. Both in the same day, in the same spot so I had hopes that the bite was finally starting to turn on but then we got shark attacked again. We caught the shark too. On later trips to that spot, all we caught was sharks. Sharks are fun to catch but the GT's and jacks are a lot of fun too as long as they're not just becoming shark food as soon as you hook them.
See 'ya on the water,
Capt. Jeff Rogers