Captain Brad Philipps led angler John Cole to the rare grand slam on the fly. This included sailfish, blue marlin and striped marlin on fly tackle in the same day. Extremely rare, extremely difficult. What a feat by captain, crew and angler.
MAY 07, 2004
Fifteen years ago today, was the date that Hilton’s Realtime-Navigator was launched with 3 regions in the northern Gulf of Mexico which has now grown to 36 regions; Gulf of Mexico, East coast, West coast, Central America, South America, Caribbean, and more! What an incredible journey, meeting so many great people over the years doing what we all love – fishing!
The site has evolved tremendously over the years and is still evolving – we will be unveiling several new features next week at the Mobile Big Game Membership meeting as well as the Orange Beach Billfish Classic!
A couple of sneak previews; our new service called Hilton’s SAT2NAV system as well as our new “H.E.L.P.” program.
Stay tuned – more details to come!
Thank you very much to everyone who has supported our service over the years!
All the best,
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: firstname.lastname@example.org – 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.
Captain Brett Alty’s 50’ custom charter boat Mistress is at it again. Upon arrival back at Fraser Island at the end of September Mistress tagged 32 marlin within just 7 days and 3hrs of fishing! As Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees catcher was as famous for his baseball skills as for mixing metaphors, once said “ This is déjà vu all over again.”
As was reported earlier in In The Bite E-News Mistress enjoyed outstanding success at Fraser last year as well, tagging 104 in just 42 days during the period late August to late Nov. Mistress fished through early December before returning to the Gold Coast for some much needed maintenance. All told from August through December 2017, the Mistress tagged 128 marlin in 48 days of fishing. An astounding average of 2.7 fish per boat day!
We were on our lonesome for the entire period from August to October, but in November we were joined by three motherships and 10 gameboats all sharing the most commonly used anchorage at Rooneys Point. Among them the Gold Coast boats Caboom, Special K, and French Look 111, plus the charter boat Kekoa. Word of the outstanding fishing had spread quickly.
In late February, Mistress returned to Fraser and fished another 44 days. During this period currents weren’t ideal and weather patterns dictated that most fishing was done around the New Moon. We generally don’t find the best Moon Phase optimal; rather the week before and after the Full seems preferable.
Nevertheless Mistress managed another 71 tags to bring the total for the year ended 30 June to 199. As we were hoping for a nice round and memorable number –like 200—the 199 was a bit disappointing. How close were we to the magic 200? On the last day of the fishing year we developed the dreaded “Rubber Hook “ syndrome, going one for five for the day. Damn. The 199 marlin tagged were comprised of 150 blue marlin, 30 little blacks and 19 assorted heavy tackle blacks and stripes. That’s world class fishing by any measure. During this period we were frequently accompanied by Dave McMaster a light tackle specialist on Poledancer and we had some memorable social nights.
Then, just to cap it all off, Mistress won the Hervey Bay Gamefish Club tournament fishing against a fleet of 40 odd boats. This time fishing heavy tackle with 9 blues in the 2 ½ days of fishing. We also won this tournament in 2015 catching 15 little blacks on light tackle, and were second on a countback in 2016 to the well performed Sunshine Coast Privateer Kamikaze.
Frazer Island Background
There are some interesting aspects to the fishery at Fraser. The blues and stripes strike very aggressively. With the stripes there was none of the usual Tap—Tap— Tap. The majority just climbed on like a Blue. All the fish were in excellent condition. They were all fat. Much more so than the ones we see on the Gold Coast only a couple of hundred miles south.
There were also yellowfin tuna present ranging from a few kilos to up to 75kg out on the shelf. On one occasion there were so many yellowfin around that they were beating the Blues to the lures. Captain Brett could see blues coming up in the lure pattern, but they were being consistently beaten to the lures by frenzied yellowfin.
A new Giant Black Marlin Fishery on the Horizon?
In June/July we also tagged, and quite predictably lost quite a few, tiny little Blacks. Some vainly trying, but failing to hook themselves on lures were as small as 2kg (5 pounds)! We reported this to Dr. Julian Pepperell (Australia’s preeminent billfish scientists—and one of the world’s foremost experts) who was intrigued because he thought that fish of this size would be probably only two to three months old. If this is the case it means that they were most likely spawned about February or March. This has quite serious ramifications as it means that there is a black marlin spawning period outside the traditional September to November Cairns breeding period. Julian requested that we keep a couple of the Heads off these tiny Blacks so that he can inspect the oeliths and more precisely determine their age.
If Julian’s initial prognosis is correct it may well lead to another Giant black marlin season, most likely somewhere near Fraser Island. No doubt when we get confirmation of Julian`s estimate we and other long range liveaboard boats will be out in the wild blue yonder doing some exploratory fishing trying to find this new breeding ground.
The 2018 Season
Mistress started its latest session at Fraser with a three day, three hour fishing trip that initially targeted little blacks. After tagging eight, in the morning of the 3rd day the crew decided to go heavy tackle seeking a Slam. Well the Lady angler, one of the three on board, caught her first blue and then was unlucky to pull the hooks out of a stripe.
On his second trip, Captain Brett decided to fish Heavy Tackle for four days. The Mistress wound up with an absolutely outstanding 23 tags deployed from 32 strikes. All blues! That’s 5.75 blues per day. Fingers crossed this keeps up!!
On the fourth day Captain Brett actually moved away from his spot and called a couple of his friends in. His sole charterer was worn out from fighting so many fish and his two deckies were worn out from constant work rerigging/ resetting lures and leadering fish. How’s that for a problem?
Now Mistress has done a total of 11 days and 3 hrs at Fraser since the end of September and has tagged 42 marlin comprising 33 blues, eight blacks, and one striped. That’s an astonishing average of 3.72 per day of fishing.
At the moment there are around six boats fishing at Fraser, among them Brad Dobinson’s Special K and Captain Simon Carossi driving Assegai. Simon also has his Mothership there.
I imagine that once again there will be a fleet descend on Fraser in November. Some of the Cairns charter boats have announced their intention to come down. There will also be boats from both north and south making an extended visit around their Hervey Bay Gamefish Club Tournament attendance (Tourny 16th to 19th Nov).
There are plenty of fish for everyone and I expect that as we fish the area more we will all learn more and enjoy an even greater level of success. As if it’s not outstanding already.
For more on the Mistress operation, or to book a trip, check out their website: http://www.fishingmistress.com/
2018 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament Final Results
The 20th Annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament recorded 150 billfish catches across three days of fishing.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO (MONDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2018) — Radio Channel 28 stayed lively all three days of the 20th Annual Los Cabos Billfish tournament, with the tournament fleet averaging 50 releases each day. Last year, anglers released 61 blues and 31 striped marlin; this year, the striped marlin bite returned with a fury. In total, the fleet of 52 boats caught 150 billfish, consisting of 109 stripes, 29 blues, five blacks, five sailfish and two spearfish. Days one and two saw stronger afternoon bites, while day three’s afternoon bite was the slowest of the tournament.
Fishing teams were competing for $642,300 in cash, plus prizes.
The overall winner of the 20th Annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament was Team Sea Angel, scoring 1,700 points. Sea Angel didn’t weigh any fish, but thanks to their 28 striped marlin releases and one blue marlin release, they were able to hold onto the top spots in the Overall Team Division and Overall Release Points Jackpot. Plus, they won the Day Two Release Points Jackpot. The team, consisting of Capt. Billy Chase “BC” Angel, Andrea Angel, Greg Angel, Austin Angel, Chase Travers, Fico Ortega and Juan Carlos Buenes, earned $113,500 for their efforts and an invitation to the 2019 Offshore World Championship in Costa Rica. For his outstanding showing, Capt. BC Angel won the top captain and received a Garmin Quatix watch.
The Los Cabos Billfish Tournament awards 300 points for black and blue marlin releases, while striped marlin, sailfish and spearfish are just 50 points. Marlin weighed over the 300-pound minimum are awarded points based on their weight. In 2018, each pound was worth 1.5 points, so a 500-pound black marlin catch earned 750 points. The Los Cabos Billfish Tournament point system favors blue and black marlin releases, or catching a monster marlin for weigh-in, but Team Sea Angel was able to defy the odds by totaling 28 striped marlin releases. The year 2018 was the first time a team not weighing a marlin won first-place team in the tournament.
Second-place in the Overall Team Division went to Team Chupacabra with 1,548.5 points. The team released two blue marlin and four striped marlin for 800 points. On the third day of fishing, angler Blake Stamper landed a 499-pound blue marlin worth 748.5 points. The monster blue marlin won all four levels of the Day Three Marlin Jackpot and the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot. The team, consisting of Capt. Clay Hensley, Bo Jenyns, Jason Douglas, Blake Stamper, Don Stamper, Don Logue and Pablo Pino, earned $195,950, the largest check of the tournament.
Third-place in the Overall Team Division was secured by Team El Suertudo with 1,400 points with four blue marlin, three striped marlin and one spearfish. The team also scored the Day One Release Points Jackpot and Second-Place Overall Release Points Jackpot. Their top-three finishes earned them $57,780 in total. The El Suertudo team consisted of Capt. Greg DiStefano, Bruce McDonald, Alfonso Ortega, Guy Yocom, Oswaldo Ortega, Gary Mason, Dave Elow, Azam Flores and Noe Isaias Cruz.
Three qualifying marlin were caught during the tournament, with Team Chupacabra’s the heaviest. But two other marlin catches on days one and two won teams Carpe Diem and Second Wind large cash payouts.
On day one, Carpe Diem’s Dr. Rick McShane landed a 467-pound blue marlin. The blue marlin won all four levels of the Day One Marlin Jackpot, earning $81,750 for the team. The 2018 Carpe Diem team was made up of Capt. Jeff Hamm, Dr. Ricky McShane, James McDonald, Gary Benson, Kellium Tice, Alex Hill and Juan Manuel.
On day two, Team Second Wind won the day with a 363-pound black marlin caught by angler Ryan Donovan. The catch solidified all four levels of the Day Two Marlin Jackpot and second place in the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot for a grand total of $119,550. Second Wind got redemption with their day-two catch after weighing a marlin on day one that was seven pounds shy of the qualifying weight of 300 pounds. The Second Wind team consisted of Capt. TJ Dobson, John LaGrone, Ryan Donovan, Tony Frascone, Erik Chang and Jerry Bribiesca.
Team Yahoo had two strong days of striped marlin fishing after a slow first day to win third place in the Overall Release Points Jackpot. On day three, the team also won the Daily Release Points Jackpot with 12 striped marlin released worth 600 points. Team Yahoo consisted of Capt. Ricardo Escamilla, Bryce Schell, Mike McKamey, Kurtis McKamey, Jose Escamilla, Ricardo Escamilla and Valentine Ucamp. In total, the team won a check worth $18,420.
Teams entered in the Tuna/Wahoo/Dorado Jackpot who weighed gamefish species were also able to get on the winner’s stage and take home cash prizes. No qualifying dorado were landed over the three days of fishing so that prize money was distributed to the tuna and wahoo winners. On day three, no qualifying wahoo were caught, so that purse was split between the day one and two winners.
Angler Edward Cota, of Team Estella Del Norte, landed a 66-pound yellowfin tuna to win the Largest Tuna Daily Jackpot. The fish won Team Estrella Del Norte $10,762. The team consisted of Capt. Adrian Miranda, James E Rosenwald, Daniel Camacho, Adrian Miranda and Edward Cota.
Angler Jesus Garcia, of Team El Animal, landed a 37.2-pound wahoo to win the Largest Wahoo Daily Jackpot. The fish won Team El Animal $13,837. The team consisted of Capt. Hugo Beas, Jesus Garcia, Jose Roberto Sanchez, Jose Macias and Daniel Fiol.
Angler Scott Leonard, of Team Game Time, landed a 31.3-pound yellowfin tuna to win the Largest Tuna Daily Jackpot. The fish won Team Game Time$10,762. The team consisted of Capt. Javier Zamaya, Kris Anderson, Scott Leonard, Matt Condon and Manuel Gil.
Angler Jim Smith, of Team Mjolnir, landed a 43.9-pound wahoo to win the Largest Wahoo Daily Jackpot. The team consisted of Capt. David Harris, Brandon Walton, Jim Smith, Brandon Baiocco, Jared Dow and Kevin Schloot.
Angler Jim Smith, of Team Mjolnir, landed a 70.3-pound yellowfin tuna to win the Largest Tuna Daily Jackpot. For their day two and three catches, the team won $19,987.