Kona Tournaments—So the good news is, Kona fishing is back in business.
The inter-island quarantine is to be lifted on June 16, allowing local residents to move freely around the state. The Governor said this week that he will address the topic of lifting the inbound visitor quarantine – next week. At this time, all inbound travelers are still required to quarantine. We don’t know if this will be lifted by July 4th, or not.
As mentioned before, the State “plan” is to have a mitigation system in place with multiple layers, before re-opening to mainland travelers – pre-board proof of a recent Covid 19 test (negative) within a time frame TBD, thermal screening and contact tracing etc. etc. Getting all this in place is where the hold up lies.
A few anglers/boat owners have contacted me and offered to volunteer for a pilot project to test these mitigation measures – if they can fly in for the July 4th weekend to fish the Kona Kick Off and the World Cup. I have made that offer to the Governor’s office. I’d say it was a long shot, at best. But, ya never know!As far as procedures at the tournaments:
1) I strongly suggest you pay the base entries for tournaments – and – all of the optional categories you want, in advance by check. You can always make changes as we get closer, including pulling out and getting a refund.
2) We have installed and tested a password protected page where teams who have paid at lest the base entry, can watch the tournament spreadsheets populate – from the comfort of where ever they are.
3) Teams may make upward adjustments (additions) to their optional entries via phone and credit card, if they prefer to stay in the comfort of where ever they are.
3) Downward adjustments can also be made by phone, and if a refund is do, it will be refunded in the same manner payment was received – by card if paid by card and by check if paid by check or cash.
4) We want to limit cash as much as possible. The homeless situation in Kona has only become worse and many are hanging around the harbor. For your safety and ours, we highly recommend not carrying or paying in cash.
5) For those who must pay last minute, on-site, we are working on a new club house system but please note: NO PARTIES AND NO GATHERINGS OF PEOPLE MORE THAN STATED BY GOVERNOR PROCLAMATION IN PLACE AT THAT TIME.
6) Our plan is to have walk-up windows and tables set up at the Club House on the afternoon of the day before the first day of fishing. Only the person making a payment may approach the window or table. That “team representative” should have all the info needed for the various entry forms and documents, if they have not filed them in advance.
We do not know what the gathering rules will be by July 4th, but more than likely, we will not have tables and chairs out at the club house, as in the past. We anticipate a string of chairs, each six feet apart, under the awning in the shade, for those who need to conduct business in person.
7) Personal or business checks from US Mainland banks must be received by the Monday prior to the first day of fishing, in order to clear Hawaii banks.
8) We will continue to take very limited checks from current boat owners we have existing relationships with, on a case by case basis, inside of these limits. First Hawaiian Bank checks can also be taken inside these limits, as that is our bank and they will know if good.
9) Captains may call me directly to make arrangements to pick up tags, if needed. Some do, some don’t. If you don’t please don’t call or hoard. NOAA/NMFS was closed last I spoke with them, and getting more will be difficult I was told.
10) At least in July tourneys, tag and release video will be allowed from your phones now. We have had good luck with teams sending backup video from their phone to me directly, via Facebook messenger.
We are also working with Capt. Joe Crawford on using his app “Capt.App” which has a secure video feature. More on this soon. http://captapp.com/home
We prefer to use a secure system, but we are still in conversations with Joe on how to make this happen
At this point, the July tourneys look to be “local only” while we plan to be back in regular action for the “biggies” in August.
We will take what we learn in July and make decisions for August on how to best secure what are usually large sums of money via tag and release video.
11) We will not be opening the usual office in Gentry’s and plan to operate remotely, except when we plan to be at the Club House – the day prior to the first day of fishing, of each individual tournament. The people we rented from have closed up shop, and moved out. We were subleasing because neither Gentry’s nor the Fuel Dock has ever been receptive to a seasonal rental.
All this points to even more reasons to enter in advance, pay by check, stay home or on the boat and watch the spreadsheet in comfort!
I think that is about it for now. Things remain pretty fluid, so we may tweak this “plan” as we move on down the timeline. A caveat we learned from all these talks with the State!
By Captain Chip Van Mols
Kona, Hawaii, as most know, is considered to be the birthplace of the modern trolling lure. Trolling a spread of lures armed with hooks is now the most popular method of fishing here. Our mostly calm water definitely allows for a nice presentation of your lures and also allows you to cover a lot of ground while hunting all the pelagic species that are available at any given time.
Most importantly to me is the Pacific blue marlin, some of which can be as big as the species typically gets. While we wait for a Large Marge to appear, a well-tuned spread of lures will allow you to catch the small marlin, spearfish, mahi, wahoo and tuna you will inevitably encounter along the way!
When I started here in the mid-80s, a four or five lure spread starting on the second or third pressure wave and staggering back a wave alternating from side to side was the norm. That hasn’t changed really except for the addition of bridge teasers and most recently dredges.
My Spread Placement
These days, we typically run dredges on both sides of our boat. Dredges are positioned below the trough between the first pressure wave and number two. My short corner is on the face of the 3rd wave on the starboard side; the long corner on the 4th wave port side. The short rigger is on the starboard side on number 5. The long rigger is on the port side on the 6th wave and the optional stinger or shotgun lure would be on number 7 down the middle (When a fish comes up in Hawaii, it is called out as “short rigger” or “long corner,” etc., rather than “right long” or “left flat,” etc.).
Size, Shape and Location
On my shorts, I like to run very aggressively, showy lures that are extra-large or large—typically 14-16 inches in length. I rig these lures with 11/0 or 12/0 hooks. From there, I’ll taper down in size and aggressiveness the further back we get. I figure it’s easier to set my biggest hooks close to the boat with less stretch in the line.
My riggers are usually both 12-inch lures sporting 10/0 hooks. For the shotgun, I usually employ a 9/0 on a nine-inch jet or bullet. We use tag lines off of our outriggers to elevate and spread out our lures. The tag lines are personal preference—I’ve lure fished plenty running the corners and riggers straight off of blacks clips on the outrigger halyards… horses for courses, as they say.
I like slant face lures on my corners. Generally, a slant face or straight cut “Hard Head” on the short rigger, a 12-inch bullet on my long rigger and a nine-inch bullet down the middle. As a matter of practice, I try to create a spread that utilizes variety of shapes running in a variety of ways. All of this talk brings me to color—more variety.
In Kona, I would say blue is the home color. Black combos, blue-green or green combos, and pink all work, too. Whether the fish really care about color or not, I do! My usual starting lineup color-wise would be a blue-green vinyl short corner, black vinyl long corner, and blue vinyl short rigger. For the long rigger, I prefer a blue silver 12-inch squid skirt over orange. White and pink goes on my 12-inch large bullet.
The stinger bullet can be a blue/silver flying fish combo or a pink squid combo. I prefer to employ a variety of color to start—from there I will let the fish pick. If my black one starts getting it, I will add another black combo and so on. I always want two blue combos out there. Just a me thing—I don’t feel comfortable putting all my eggs in one basket!
Hooks, Rigs, Etc…
In slant face lures, we point the hook down. In flat face, symmetrical, cup face or bullet-shaped lures, we point the hook up. Bang!
If you were to troll a single hook (run by itself with no lure) which way would it run? The hook always runs face up—we have underwater film to prove it. This is great for your symmetrical types of lures.
As I moved from double hook rigs to single, I found that my normally very straight running slant faced lures would have an annoying side to side action—with the point of the hook facing up when single rigged. I’m pretty sure it was Gene Vanderhoek that figured out if you pointed the hook down the lure would then run straight and have the same action we were used to in our favorite slants. It works!
There is one word of caution: the heavier the gage of your hook, the more likely that the hook will flip your lure upside down at times. To combat this tendency to invert, we’ve incorporated belly weights in the versions most of us pull. Single hook rigs are by far the safest option for all on board, and I have achieved a much higher hookup to landing ratio on billfish than I ever did running all double 180% rigs.
My rigs are made long enough that the point of the hook should just clear the end of the skirts, but the eye of the hook will always be inside the skirts per IGFA regulations.
The calmer the sea, the higher you will be able to pull your lures from the outriggers. Also, the higher up on the pressure wave you can run them. As the sea conditions deteriorate, we will lower the angle of attack by winding down the tag line to keep the lure from hopping out of the water. We may also move the lure a tad closer to the boat which will place it lower on the face of the pressure wave making it easier to keep them in the water.
When the sea is rough, I generally choose lures that run well in those conditions. Rough water favorites include the classic plunger style shapes, flat faced lures (think mold craft wide range type), jets and bullets. Cupped or funnel face types also do well in the rough. I always avoid trolling directly into the sea or directly down sea, as this makes it the most difficult to keep the lures in the water.
If you must pound into it or surf down sea, then lower the angle from the outriggers and position your lures low on the pressure wave to keep them in the water and running smoothly. When fishing in a crosswind, which will probably be the case if you are quartering up or down sea, I will lower my upwind side and raise my downwind side. If you are working a small area this will keep your crew from falling asleep, too!
My usual spread of Tantrums on an average day in Kona.
Captain Chip Van Mols was born in Michigan and graduated high school in Southern California. Van Mols moved to Hawaii in 1982, chasing the big waves on the North Shore of Oahu. It was here that he discovered marlin fishing. In 1988, Van Mols moved to Kona and has been chasing blue marlin as a vocation ever since.
Van Mols caught his first grander (1,165) as a crewman with Capt. Jerome Judd aboard the Jun Ken Po in 1994. He would go on to four more granders—1064 in 2009, 1062 in 2011, 1226.5 in 2015, and a 1,305 in Ascension Island in 2015 with Captain Brian Toney.
All of these fish were caught on lures! Beyond his Kona exploits, Van Mols has fished extensively on GBR and many other hot spots on Australia’s east coast, Ghana Africa, Venezuela, Guatemala, New Zealand, PEI/ Nova Scotia, Samoa, Fiji and a few other spots. His daughter Jada holds the IGFA woman’s Atlantic Blue Marlin record with the 1,305. She also holds still holds the junior Pacific blue marlin record with a 514 she caught with her father in 2003.
Do you have any comments or questions for us? We’d love to hear from you.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.