Tourism makes for a good economic indicator. When people are prospering, they often use their extra income to travel. Here in Hawaii, EVERYTHING revolves around tourism. For instance, here in Kona we have Kona Coffee and while some of it is exported, most of it is purchased by tourists and the same is true with our macadamia nuts. Income from shops, hotels, restaurants and the many tourist activities is what Hawaii thrives on as its base income. If that base income isn’t coming in, ALL of the other businesses here feel the pinch too. In recent years, charter fishing has taken one of the biggest economic hits because it’s one of the more pricy activities. I’m one of the busiest captains in Kona and I also know who the other busy captains are. Without a doubt, the ½ day share charter boats are the busiest of all because they’re the cheapest so when you see them sitting at the dock, you know times are tough. Here’s the kicker! Our local news agencies keep telling us that tourism is GREAT! Best ever in years and junk like that. They must be using some kind of fuzzy math (kind of like the unemployment rate) because many of my charters have even told me that the hotels they’re staying in are near empty. I just don’t get it. We have eyes; we see the struggling economy and feel it. The rose colored glass that the local media must be wearing doesn’t change the facts or maybe they think that by lying about it, it will make us feel better but the truth is tourism just isn’t what it was when the economy was booming. Now onto the fishing…..
The trolling bite is pretty good right now but the overall catch is low because very few boats are going out. Of the ones that did go fishing, the catch rate was pretty good in September. The mahi mahi are starting to move in right now. We’re also starting to see more debris in the water and that’s what the mahi mahi love to hang around. Some of that debris coming in is from the 2011 Japan tsunami. While most of the debris will travel on its way Westward to the North of the main Hawaiian Islands, some of the debris will take a slightly different rout because of size, shape, floatation, wind and wave action. The debris will also bring in more tuna, rainbow runner, ono and billfish and I’m looking forward to that part of it as more arrives but the down side will be running over partially submerged debris that will get caught in the props. While having to dive under the boat during a fishing trip to untangle junk from your props kind of sucks, I’m even more concerned about possible prop, strut, shaft coupling or rudder damage because some of that junk is pretty massive and not easily seen.
The bottom bite is just OK with the main catch being sharks. I didn’t catch any jacks at all last month and only caught two this month. I have less that 20 more jacks to tag before I hit the 2000 mark of jacks tagged and released but at this rate, it looks like that won’t happen ‘til next year. The sharks have either eaten them or driven them away but the sharks are more fun and more of a challenge to catch anyway.
In all the years I’ve been writing the Kona Hawaii fishing report I’ve only had to make one correction. Now it’s two. Last month I got the story wrong about the female angler that almost caught the grander marlin. After talking to her, I also relied on information from some of the other news reports about it. Ooops. The girl who fought the fish for most of the fight does indeed work as a deckhand but in that tournament, she was the angler, not the deckhand. After 4+ hours of fighting, the fish sounded and died. Her husband, who also works as a deckhand and another captain on the boat helped her get it in.
See ‘ya on the water ,
Capt. Jeff Rogers ,