Wild Hooker, 2,150 points
Lazy Marlin Hunt 2nd Place – 300 pts.
Firecracker Open 1st Place – 500 pts.
Kona Throw Down 1st Place – 500 pts.
Skins Marlin Derby 3rd Place – 100 pts.
Big Island Marlin Tournament 1st Place Release – 500 pts.
Hawaiian Marlin Tournament Series Overall Champions – 250 pts.
With its envious combination of calm seas, big fish and Hawaiian hospitality, Kona is home to some of the most storied and influential cultural traditions in the history of sportfishing. At just thirty-two years old, Captain Shane O’Brien is already part of that history.
“I had an easy in. My dad has been fishing in Kona for a long time. Since the late 70s professionally, but he’d been coming over with my late grandfather since he was 12 years old. I grew up fishing with my dad’s friends, so it was easy to connect the dots,” O’Brien says.
Shane was fortunate to advance his fishing career under the tutelage of the best in the business. He mated for Capt. Kerwin Masunaga, two-time Hawaii Division Cup champion, before linking up with Alan Stuart.
“He is just the greatest guy to work for. I’ve been with him since I was 18 years old. We’ve had a great run so far. The Strong Persuader is the first boat that Alan had and the first boat that I got a job running, it is a 43-foot Merritt, formerly the Five Star. He had this boat for probably four years before he purchased the 61-foot Wild Hooker, which we no longer have. Now he has a 68-foot Blackwell called the Wild Hooker. So, that boat was in Cabo after being in the Gulf of Mexico for three or four years. We decided to bring it back to Hawaii to fish some areas we weren’t able to in the 43 Merritt. Including some of the other islands that get really rough, and potentially do seamount trips,” O’Brien says.
The Wild Hooker crew kicked off their 2020 tournament campaign with a second-place finish in the Lazy Marlin Hunt by releasing three blue marlin. Just a month later they dominated the Firecracker Open with another three blue marlin releases, posting just 1-minute, 5-minute and 4-minute fight times for angler Guy Arrington.
“As far as the numbers of fish, it has been great. Last year there was a ton of small ones. This year it was great fishing as well. Just missing the real big ones. That’s been the only change we’ve seen in the last four or five years. Normally there’s one or two granders a year on average and there have been none this year. There was only one last year and none the three years prior.”
The all-star crew kept their hot streak alive with three more impressive finishes before the season-ending Big Island Marlin Tournament. “We were lucky. We had a consistent year for a change. Usually, we are more of the sporadic type where we do really well in one or two and then you don’t hear from us for a little bit,” O’Brien says. While there might be less inclination to adapt, O’Brien talks about the changes his local fishery has experienced.
A lot more boats are going to dredges. Guys are getting two crew, which is making things a little easier. Before, every dollar counted so a lot of guys never did it. Now that there are a lot of more private operations, guys are doing everything they can to be competitive. We do a little bit of dredge fishing depending on what’s going on, but everything we did last year was pretty much all lure fishing. The only fish we weighed was a 671 and that was the biggest one we saw during all of the tournaments.”
Even in Hawaii, remoteness isn’t always easy to come by. “There’s so much territory over here that nobody fishes because it is rough, it is far and a lot of times you don’t need to. A lot of times you can go right out front in the calm and there’s no advantage to going far. But we’re super adventurous, so we want to go out and do new stuff in 2021, not just the same old thing,” O’Brien says.
- 2020 Capt. Shane O’Brien // Wild Hooker // 2150 Points
- 2019 Capt. Teddy Hoogs // Bwana, // 1900 Points
- 2018 Capt. Rob Ellyn // Lightspeed //1250 Points
- 2017 Capt. “Stymie” Epstein // Huntress // 1,000 Points
- 2016 Capt. Kerwin Masunaga // Rod Bender // 1850 Points
- 2015 Capt. Kerwin Masunaga //Rod Bender // 1100 Points
- 2014 Capt. Rob Ellyn // Light Speed //1000 Points