The start of a new year so Kona’s “Big Fish List” starts fresh. 22 kinds of fish make up the list but last year, one slot, bonefish, was never filled. “Grander” marlin (over 1000 lbs.) takes the top of the list almost every year but until this years grander(s) are brought in, it’s anyone’s game. On new years day a 197 lb. blue marlin started the top of the list. Just 6 days later I took the top with the first “beast” (over 500 lbs.) blue marlin of the year weighing in at 598 lbs. Both the angler and I had decided to release the marlin early in the fight but it sounded and died during the fight so we brought it in. The glory of making the list was short lived as I was beat out just 3 days later by 2 1/2 lbs. and that marlin currently stands as the biggest of the year. The blue marlin bite has been pretty good for winter but the striped marlin are making a very poor showing so far. I sure hope more show up because they are absolutely delicious! The spearfish are making a strong showing early in the season and are a lot of fun on light tackle and one of the best eating fish you can get. I let my anglers make the decision on whether they want to release those or eat them.
Yellowfin tuna bite remains good for the big ones in the porpoise schools and also for the smaller ones on the FAD’s. Some mahi mahi are still around so keeping some lighter tackle out there for them, the tuna’s and also the spearfish makes for some good fun. It’s been a hard decision lately to go trolling in the deep offshore or to stay near shore and troll shallow for the ono. The bite on ono has been good too and few boats are targeting them so it really boils down to a decision of whether you want a shot at a marlin or not because marlins very rarely go in the shallows.
The bottom bite has turned back on and even though the trolling is good, there’s still a chance of coming up empty handed if all you do is troll all day. With the bottom bite being good, there’s almost no excuse for not catching something. I tag and release the majority of the bottom fish but I had yet another fish die on me. This time it was a giant trevally (GT) so we took it in and weighed it. Though it wasn’t my first GT of the year, you don’t make the “Big Fish List” unless you get your fish weighed in so the ulua (Hawaiian for GT) slot now stands at 41 ½ lbs. Not a hard number to beat but a respectable size for GT anyway. Personally I’d rather not have anymore fish die on me but I have been eating plenty of that marlin because I had it smoked and my neighbors, family and friends are having a good time with it too. There’s lots of meat on a fish that big. The GT was caught by locals and was also consumed but they also would have rather have see it swim away. We call it sportfishing and some types of fish are commonly kept while others are commonly released. I’ve said it before and I’ll remind you again, some boats kill everything they catch so if you’re not into that, check their policy before you book with them. Also check their policy on keeping a portion, or even all of the eating fish. Many boats now have their policies on their web sites but if they don’t, beware.
See ‘ya on the water,
Capt. Jeff Rogers