Kona Tournaments — Fishing continues to hold steady along the Kona coast, in between cold fronts and bouts of north wind.
At least 15 blues over 500 pounds and 1 black estimated to have been 700+ were reported in January. February has generated back to back cold fronts which dropped heavy snow on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa (down to the 9,000-foot level) but it made a few days “un-fishable”, which is a rarity here.
Except for a few days when the weather disrupted the current, the fish have been there in February too, but the final tally is not yet in. The largest reported so far this month was a 700 pounder on Kona Blue. There are lots of reports of multiple marlin days, with mixes of blues and stripeys.
Lazy Marlin Hunt
Entries are already coming in for the “new” Lazy Marlin Hunt scheduled for March 27 – 29 and anyone interested is encouraged to book your favorite boat and crew sooner than later for availability.
For an entry form paying with check, click here
To enter online with a credit card, click here
To go directly to the online registration system, click here
All the dates for the 2020 tourneys and cash/check entry forms are on the home page: konatournaments.com
If you’ve been around fishing long enough to stay calm when a giant marlin materializes in your baits, one thing that strikes you is that they appear to be keeping up with your trolling speed with absolute ease – almost effortlessly. When you combine this visual with the astonishing bulk of the beast in your wake, it almost makes them look as if they are acting like a lazy old elephant, just out for a stroll.
Of course, if you hook that monster, all hell will break loose and any interpretation of laziness will go right out the window – along with your calm – but for a short while, that’s what it can look like. Even after you’ve seen lots and lots of big marlin, you may still wonder at this and the incredible transformation that can happen in the blink of an eye.
On another note, the “lazy” looking ones can be the hardest to get an aggressive bite out of, and hence, sometimes hard to hook. They are like the worlds largest mouse toying with a knot in the end of a piece of string. It’s always easier to hook a suicide fish than one just playing with the bait, but that doesn’t discount every single encounter with a BIG one from being awe inspiring, and a down right shock of adrenaline.
So, if you are wondering why anyone would call a tournament “The Lazy Marlin Hunt”, now you know! What you may not know is that “granders” (marlin 1,000 pounds or larger) have been caught in Hawaii during every month of the calendar year. In addition, more “grander” blue marlin have been caught in Hawaii than any other single fishing hole on Earth.
The month with the most graders caught is July, but in Kona, there are already tournaments on every single weekend in July. The month with the second most graders caught in it is March, which has no tournament scheduled, which is why the Lazy Marlin Hunt was put in March.
It is also interesting that more marlin 500 pounds or better are caught during March and April than any other two concurrent months of the year. More than 50 blues, 500 pounds or better have been caught in March and April – each year – during 2018 and again, in 2019.
As for Granders, 31 blues over 1,000 pounds were documented as caught in March and April. And two of the three largest blues ever caught were landed in March a 1,649 pounder caught off of Oahu in 1984 and and slightly more infamous 1,656 pound caught from Black Bart in 1991. March has also turned up six blues over 1,200 pounds.
Looking closer for trends, another pattern appeared: more granders were caught just before, just after or right on the New Moon – clearly more than during any other period. The New Moon of March 2020 is on the 25th, so it seemed logical to schedule the tournament to start fishing March 27, just after the new, and right before the page turns to April.
The two most popular (and richest) tourneys in Kona are the Kona Throw Down and the Skins Marlin Derby, which run back to back in July. Between them, they generated a total purse of over $1 Million dollars last summer. Anglers like to fish for Big Fish!
The Lazy Marlin Hunt combines a few of the most popular aspects of the two tourney formats into one – 500 pound minimum – winner take all, one prize from the Base Entry; 400 pound minimum for all optionals; and refunds for winner take all and biggest marlin categories if no qualifier is weighed in any particular category.
With all these points in mind, why would you not fish the Lazy Marlin Hunt? It’s not like you can fish a Big Blue Marlin tourney with these odds, anywhere else but Kona…one just doesn’t exist – except for the two in July. And, there have not been two marlin over 1,600 pounds caught in July…and you get more bites in July, but from more small fish….and….oh, well, you get the picture.
One more thing to consider; interest is strong and the best boats and crews are booking up already, so don’t miss “stacking the deck” and fielding your best team for this one. You’re gonna need every edge you can muster to win the Lazy Marlin Hunt. Enter now!
Go to konatournaments.com and download the entry form: https://konatournaments.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2020-lazy-marlin-cash-1.pdf And for those detail minded, why not read the rules: https://konatournaments.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2020-Lazy-Marlin-Hunt-Rules.pdf. For more information, call at 808.557.0908 or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you in March, at the Lazy Marlin Hunt – Kona
InTheBite received a cooking-101 at Keoni’s Point of View in Kona, Hawaii and the restaurant delivered. The seafood hotspot, which sits on the west side of the island, is well-known for its fresh fish dishes—from Hawaiian-style poke to smoked marlin dip—that come out of the busy kitchen.
Owners and husband and wife team, Keoni and Kalina Llanes, have built the restaurant from the ground up making it a current favorite among locals and visitors alike. And the restaurant has also become a way to honor Keoni’s uncle, Capt. Randy Llanes, whose life was cut short when he was impaled by the bill of a swordfish while spearfishing. According to Keoni, his uncle dreamed about one day opening up a restaurant of his own.
Today, that dream has taken root on Honokohau Harbor. InTheBite brought a mahi-mahi that was cooked up at the restaurant and prepared for a meal that did not disappoint.
Captain of the Year
The InTheBite Captain of the Year Cup, presented by Hatteras, is the championship of sportfishing. The Cup is the world’s only quantifiable way to recognize the tournament success of professional sportfishermen. Comprised of 90-sanctioned events that span the world, there is nothing else like it. Winning an InTheBite Captain of the Year Award is a major achievement. From the winners to the Cup’s origin, it is an interesting tale.
Origins of the Cup
InTheBite Magazine started in 2003. Since its conception, the magazine [Read more…]
By Elliott Stark
Kona, Hawaii is a wonderful place. In terms of distance from a continental landmass, the Hawaiian archipelago is one of the most remote strings of islands in the world. Kona sits on the western edge of the Island of Hawaii—the Big Island. Its rocky coastline is the result of millions of years of volcanic deposits piling atop one another. The Hawaiian Islands are mountains that jut from the sea floor, covering thousands of feet beneath the waterline and thousands more above it. The mountainous interior of the Island of Hawaii creates a giant wind block, large enough to create a permanent lee and break apart hurricanes.
Jack Leverone, Mate aboard the Sea Genie II, captained by Gene Vanderhoek, provides tips and tricks on how to set up a fighting chair and fight blue marlin on heavy tackle. Shot on location in Kona, Hawaii.
One of the best wiremen in the world, Captain Shane O’Brien knows what hard work, a lot of grit and more than a little determination can reel in while out on the water. The Kona, Hawaii resident shared one of his most memorable days fishing when Capt. Bart Miller hooked a 1,656-pound blue marlin in 1984. But Miller didn’t forge ahead alone, he called in O’Brien to wire the beast.
By Capt. Mark Johnston
Tournament angler Keith Hilton had an unreal day fishing onboard the Marlin Magic II with Capt. Marlin Parker when he landed a monster 1,035-pound blue marlin on the third and final day of Kona’s Big Island Marlin Tournament! The gigantic blue was the first grander caught off Kona since August 26, 2015, and the kind of fish that has made Kona famous and known as one of the world’s greatest blue marlin fishing destinations. [Read more…]
By Capt. Jody Bright
March and April have long been hailed as “big fish months” in Kona, and indeed, there have been some very nice ones of late. We counted 31 blue marlin over 500 pounds in March and April. Here is the catch report from the Kona charter fleet – at least the ones we know of:
In the first week of March, Capt. B.T. of Melee Sport Fishing reports that a skiff released a marlin “about 800 pounds after it burned up their electric reel! 600 pounders were reported on Huntress and Jun Ken Po.
The largest blue marlin weighed in early March was a 713 pounder caught on Ihu Nui with Capt. McGrew Rice and the Clarence Clemons of the Cockpit, Carlton Arai.
On March 11, the High Noon caught a 670 pounder to back up a 642 they weighed in February. They are also reported to have broken off a fish that could have been 800 pounds.
Capt. Gene Vanderhoek went out holoholo on March 13 to train a new crew and ended up catching his old crew – 72 year old Skip Dasher – the largest fish of his angling career, a 708 pound blue. Dasher and company subdued their catch in a quick fifteen minutes.
Gene’s “crewman in training”, Brett Mowens, also caught a blue they tagged at 500+. They were back at the dock by 1:00 pm. Now that is a mighty fine busman’s holiday!
On March 14, Capt. Chad Contessa on a Bite Me boat weighed a 596 pound blue on Bite Me 1 after it arrived at the boat DOA.
Based on an informal phone survey, additional nice ones tagged recently include a 650+ released by Humdinger with Capt. Jeff Fay at the wheel. Marlin Magic II released one they called 550+ and Kona Blue released one about 500 pounds and pulled hook on another, also about 500. Nasty Habit also released one that they called 500.
EZ Pickens has been fishing with owners Brad and Vicky Picking every Saturday and Sunday since December. Up until last weekend they averaged one blue a day for a total of 25 blues so far, as well as lots of stripes and spearfish. Their largest to date was in the 500 pound range, tagged and released. In big game fishing, no hot streak lasts forever and last weekend they finally experienced a fishless day.
March 20: Linda Sue weighed a 722 pounder overtaking Ihu Nui in the top position of the Big Fish List. Foxy Lady tagged a 500 pounder.
A few fish under 400 rose on the 21st, Hula Girl caught one about 450 but Sea Genie II would start the 22nd as the pole sitter after tagging a 600 pound blue.
On Friday March 22nd, Night Runner had the “encounter of the week” when they swung and missed a few times at a marlin the experienced skipper and crew both said was the largest either have ever seen.
Huntress tagged two on the 22nd to top singles around the fleet. March 23rd was a “big fish day.” Marlin Magic II tagged one over 500, another at 375 – and also pulled hook on another 500 and one they called 650! Foxy Lady caught a youngster a 492 pound blue.
Honey returned from an overnighter on March 24 with 12 big ahi.
March 25 saw Maverick tag one and set it free, calling it 500 pounds. Hooked Up tagged and blue and two stripeys that day, which sounded like a January report. Waiopai almost got their “Kona Slam” with a nice blue and a stripey but when the spearfish they hooked came unhooked, that was all she wrote.
The next day, Waiopai got even with the billfish gods and caught, tagged and released a blue they called 650, telling it to come back during a tournament.
Northern Lights had the next “encounter of the week” on the 27th., while out holoho, whale watching and relaxing. According to the story posted on the new Facebook page Kona Marlin Report, their relaxation was shattered by a marlin that exceeded all the superlatives usually used such as “monster” or “biggest ever seen” and “giant”. You get the picture. We aren’t talking first timers or novices here, either. These are veterans “to da max” to throw in just one more superlative.
Hooked Up tagged a 450 on March 29 and on March 30 Marlin Magic II was back in the news with two blues tagged, one about 275 and one they estimated to be 575.
No “granders” yet, but that was a total of 20 blues over 500 pounds caught in March alone.
There were some real nice fish caught in April too, and a lot of days where boats caught multiple marlin and multiple species as well. Again, check the Kona Marlin Report page on Facebook for up to the minute catch logs.
Between April 2 and April 5 marlin in the 600 pound class were caught by Pair O Dice, Sapo, Honey and Maverick.
The charter boat Melee had an interesting day on the 9th of April going 1/3, tagging a 700 pound blue. The two they lost were also hefty, estimated at 500+ and 700+.
Blue Hawaii had what they called a 500 pounder expire on them and when they weighed it, the tally was 497. That’s real close to 500!
On April 12, a noteworthy report came in from a skiff. They went 4/8 on marlin, with the largest over 500 pounds.
Multiple catches were logged through all phases of the April moon and some of the reports have been pretty spectacular.
Melee went 3 for 6 on blues on April 14, the same day Humdinger caught 3 blues as well. The next day, Kona Blue caught 4 striped marlin.
Night Runner caught a blue, a spearfish and a sailfish on April 14 and backed that up with a sailfish on April 19 and 20th. Sails are rare in Kona, so they must have found one of those famous secret spots without a name.
Capt. Jeff Fay has been quoted (tongue in cheek) to say that there are few sailfish in calm Kona because there is not enough wind. This might be the reason why Kona is not a sail boaters mecca, but that’s a “Fay-ism” when it comes to sailfish. Truth be told, sailfish are usually a Continental inhabitant, preferring shallow water, the one thing Kona is lacking that actually makes a difference.
Honey went 3 for 4 on blue marlin and 1/1 on striped marlin on April 20, evidence that the full moon does not always dampen the marlin bite.
If that didn’t make you a believer, you would have no choice but to pay attention when Humdinger caught 2 blues, 6 striped marlin and a spearfish, all on April 21 when the moon was bright.
Rounding the turn into the third quarter moon phase, the bite has even gotten better! Anxious went 3 for 3 on blues on April 25, with the largest a healthy 600 pounder.
April 26 was a banner day with Tropical Sun going 3 for 4 on blues with one spearfish and Go Get Em went 3 for 4 on blues AND 3 for 4 on spearfish. J.R.’s Hooker was 2 for 2 on blues as was Waiopai.
The second half of April has produced four more marlin over 500 pounds, a 682 pounder on Bite Me 6 that was brought in because it would not revive at boat side, the largest fish weighed in April – so far.
Bite Me 3 released one they called 600 on April 26, and putting icing on the cake, Pursuit tagged a very thick 800 pounder, fishing one of Kona’s famous fishing spots – “the trail run.”
Melee closed out April going 1 out of 2 bites, catching a 700 pounder and losing a 700 pounder.
So, when wrapping up the month of April, it appears that two more fish over 500 were caught on the waxing first quarter than the waning third quarter. In March, there were more blues caught over 500 than in April, but there was no discernable pattern relative to moon phase. In March the biggest fish so far (722) was caught on the full moon, but in April there were no big ones caught on the full moon. There was action in the moonlight though, and a number of boats caught multiples on a few big moon days.
So, which moon phase is best? Does the moon phase even matter?
People are always trying to figure out when the best fishing occurs. Is it the moon or is it the tide? Could it be the current, or is ocean surface temperature the key? Perhaps, as my grandmother used to say, it’s just the way you hold your mouth.
For those who can contemplate more complex theories, the idea that the best fishing is created by some combination of these elements can have them contemplating complexities, all the live long day.
The fact of the matter is that none of those items contribute to fishing success if there are no fish in the area. Yes, current can cause them to gather in an area but you can have good current and no fish. You just can’t catch fish that are somewhere you are not. And that does happen. Sometimes the fish are just gone. Obviously, that is not the case in Kona, at present.
Once they move in, like now, then those elements may come in to play. Marlin tend to bite around a tide change, but even that is not set in stone. As Capt. Tomo Rogers once said, “If I thought that the only time I had a chance at getting a bite was during the tide change, I’d only fish during the tide change, but I don’t. So, what does that tell you?”
On top of that, the phase of the moon has not seemed to have had much effect on the bite this April, because the fish have been biting throughout the lunar cycle. If one was so inclined, contemplating this complexity could make a live long day drag on forever, if it weren’t for the distraction of all those marlin bites.
The other bottom line is you can’t catch em if you don’t go, so stop wishing and go fishing! No better time then now, by the looks of it.
If you can’t jump a plane now, tournament season starts in June. There are 7 tourneys in the Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series and an entry fee and format for every style of angler. Events are open to everyone and no experience is required because Kona’s pro charter fleet teaches novices to catch marlin 365 days a year. If you are experienced, better yet!
For more information log on: https://konatournaments.com/
Or Write: email@example.com – 808.557.0908
The great early fishing in Hawaii in 2019 could be a primer for a wide open tournament season this summer. Check the updates on Hawaii’s tournaments in the 2019 Hawaii Division of the Captain of the Year, presented by Sea Genie II! First tournament event is in June, check back at InTheBite for standings and updates. There are also charter spots available for tournament anglers should you like to fish the tournaments yourself.