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  • Kona Hawaii Fishing Report November wrap-up.

    The blue marlin bite remains pretty good for it being the off season. We've even had some BIG ones showing up. Even more in numbers than we had during the peak summer blue marlin season. The striped marlin should have started showing up in October but they didn't but they're starting to show up now. Last year was one of the worse striped marlin seasons I could remember so I'm really hoping that this year will be better. Orange striped marlin meat makes the best sushi, sashimi and poke! Most of the time the meat is more of a pink color so getting an orange meat striped marlin is very special.

    November is supposed to be the peak month for the fall mahi mahi run and while there have been some around; the bite certainly hasn't been hot. What was a hot bite this month was the otaru tunas. It's way late for them to still be here so maybe the mahi mahi are just running late also. There's been some spearfish and ono trickling in and some big ahi caught in the porpoise schools so it's really been a mixed bag bite. I always tell people that "every trip is its own adventure" and I have no idea what the day will bring us. One thing I can say though is that if you go with me, we'll catch something.

    Catching 'something' is what the bottom bite is all about. Most people that come out fishing with me have never caught a fish over 50 lbs. The sharks that I catch and release average 50 to 150 lbs. They're hard fighters so getting one to the boat sure gives the angler a sense of accomplishment. Not to mention some awesome photos. Another hard fighting fish that's supposed to be in its peak season right now is giant trevally. I got one last month but not this month. Late? One can only hope. Yet another hard fighting bottom fish is amberjack. Almost every year we'll catch and release one or two that tip the scales at over 100 lbs. This month we caught two 100+ pounders back-to-back. In all my years of bottom fishing, that was a first! That's why I can safely say with confidence, "every trip is its own adventure".

    See 'ya on the water,
    Capt. Jeff Rogers
    http://FISHinKONA.com

    Comment


    • Kona Hawaii Fishing Report December wrap-up.

      The week between Christmas and the New Year is typically the busiest tourist season in Hawaii but tourism is still way down here on the Big Island because of the volcano. It shut off five months ago so you might figure that the effect on tourism would have been over by now but it's not. The volcano smoke is gone and we're seeing clearer skies than we've seen in a decade. The view of the island from the ocean has been nothing less than spectacular! On to the fishing....

      The striped marlin have moved in but there were more blue marlin caught this month than stripes. In fact, the blue marlin bite has been really good for this time of year. Spearfish season is just starting and we're seeing more of those coming in too.

      The fall mahi mahi run is about over. There's still some being caught but not many. The tunas have more than made up for that though. All of the FAD buoys have been holding small yellowfin and bigeye tunas. The small ones are actually better eating (mild flavor) than the big ones. With the skipjack tuna (AKA 'chunk light tuna') the opposite is true. The bigger they are the better tasting. It's totally NOT the season for them to be here but just like last month, I found them hiding along the ledge North of the airport. High winds kept me from fishing there for most of the month but the winds calmed down lately and it was surprising to find them still there. There have been some yellowfin tunas mixed in with them also.

      Shark fishing was pretty good this month. Like I just said, the winds were too high to fish up North for most of the month and that's where the best bottom fishing is. The bottom fishing spots to the South are far apart from each other and generally not as productive but earlier this year I found a good shark hole down South that has been providing a good shark catch about 50% of the time. It's peak giant trevally season right now but I didn't catch a single on this month. Possibly all of those sharks are making them nervous.

      Happy New Year,
      Capt. Jeff Rogers
      Jeff@FISHinKONA.com

      Comment


      • Kona Hawaii Fishing Report - January wrap-up.

        Kona Hawaii Fishing Report January wrap-up.

        Finally I can stop complaining about the lack of tourism due to the volcano eruption last May through July. I guess the word finally got out that Kona hasn't been covered by lava. This was a busy January and my 2019 calendar is filling fast.

        The fish are here too! The striped marlin bite has been better than it has been for the past several winters. The blue marlin bite is also going strong even though it's not anywhere near a peak season for them. Spearfish season has just started but getting off to a slow start. The next few months are the peak season for them and it seems like every year, the amount of spearfish catches increase. I don't have the statistical data on that but prior to 1975, there were no spearfish in Hawaiian waters and now they're as common of a catch in the peak season as mahi mahi, ono or marlin.

        The unseasonal "chunk Light" tuna bite stopped but the ahi tuna bite seems to be on the rise. In the winter months, the smaller ahi and bigeye tuna tend to congregate on the FADs and the recently replaced offshore fish farm acts as a MEGA FAD. The small trailer boats are camped out on it almost daily. They're just drifting by it with cut bait down deep so trolling in between them mostly can't be done although sometimes there's a hole big enough to get through. The more boats that are fishing it, the less the tunas bite. I guess they get a little freaked out by all the boats. Everyone is trying their specialty tricks to make a catch and I have a few of my own. No matter how you fish "The Farm", it's tactical warfare not just for the fish but also the competition.

        Last month I reported that the high winds kept me from the best bottom fishing spots but for a while this month, the winds calmed down and the North bottom bite was HOT! The high North winds came back recently and actually shut the fishing off on the whole Kona coast. There was no where to hide from the wind and rough seas so I had to cancel my last 2 charters because of it. There were a few boats that went out anyway and they got POUNDED! The wind will calm down to the South later today and by Friday, I should be able to fish back up North again. January and February are our rough water months. The rest of the year, Kona is usually as flat as a lake.

        See 'ya on the water,
        Capt. Jeff Rogers,
        http://FISHinKONA.com

        Comment


        • Kona Hawaii Fishing Report - Febuary wrap-up.

          Kona Hawaii Fishing Report Febuary wrap-up.

          Kona has one of the most stable fishing environments on the planet. Calm seas and sunshine is the norm. Getting rained on while out fishing is almost unheard of. The common wind pattern is that the strong winds (trade winds) hit the other side of the island making the Kona side as calm as a lake on most days. If you're a regular reader of mine you may have noticed that I sometimes complain that I couldn't fish up North too much because of the high winds (choppy seas) but that's only a small area of the Kona fishery. January and February are the two months of the year where we expect to have some days (very few) that aren't fishable. I mentioned last month that I had to cancel a couple of charters because of high winds across the whole Kona coast. This month I had to cancel three charters because of high winds or rain and had to cut a couple charters cut short due to the rain that I could see coming. I'm glad January and February are over because March brings back the beautiful weather that us Kona fishermen are so use to. The humpback whales really put on a good show this time of the year also.

          The February fish bite started off a little slow at the beginning of the month but later the bite really kicked in. There has been a very hot marlin bite for both blues and stripes. The spearfish bite is in high gear too. The billfish really seem to be in concentrated pockets right now so if you find where a pocket is, multiple catches can be expected.

          Winter isn't mahi mahi season but the winter bite on those was pretty good. March is the beginning of the season for them and we're already started seeing more of those come in. Tuna on the buoys and ledges were a little scarce for me this month but that offshore fish farm has been a real money maker for the small trailer boats that are fishing it daily. Tunas are the common catch and there's even mahi mahi and the occasional ono being caught at the farm.

          Bottom fishing for me was all sharks this month. Big amberjacks are a hard fight. Pound for pound, there's no harder fighting fish than a giant trevally but sharks will usually test an anglers strength. Most fish, as they get higher up in the water column, their swim bladders make it hard for them to make a hard dive run. Sharks don't have swim bladders so usually the hardest part of the fight is when they get near the boat. That's also when the anglers are already tired and running out of steam. The sense of accomplishment after the fight is over on any hard fish fight, shark, marlin, tuna or any fish that humbles you is one of the reasons we love to fish.

          See 'ya on the water,
          Capt. Jeff Rogers,
          http://FISHinKONA.com

          Comment


          • Kona Hawaii Fishing Report March wrap-up.

            If you read last month's report you already know that the seas have calmed down to normal but it didn't happen until about mid March. The calm seas allow the boats to fish a much wider area and the catches show it. More marlin are coming is and some of them are big ones. We haven't seen many "beast" marlin (marlin weighing over 500 lbs.) in a while but they're showing up now. There are some striped marlin around too but the spearfish bite is really lacking. They're swimming around out there somewhere, just not many of them happen to be swimming here right now. We're in the peak season for them so hopefully the numbers will pick up over the next couple of months.

            Mahi mahi season is here. Some are showing up but the peak of the season is just starting. One fish that's not in season is ono but there's been a good bite on those recently. I've always said that fish don't know how to read calendars so we can get a run on any fish at any time of the year. Some boats have been doing really well working the porpoise schools for big ahi. I spent a little time trying myself but I don't really have the patience to work the school all day and usually, that's what it takes to get one. The small ahi have been around the fish farm but not with any consistency. Same with the FAD's. Otaru tunas have recently been on "The Grounds" but hard to catch.

            With the rough waters causing me to tuck into shore for the first half of the month, most of my fish were caught while jigging the bottom. I actually had to go further South than I have in a long time to find favorable sea conditions and the fish. While jigging, the most common catch is almaco jack. If you're a sushi fan at all, you would know this fish as Kampachi. I found myself j jigging in shallower waters than I normally do and picked up a few odd ball fish that I don't see in the deeper waters. Not very big but as you can see, they're colorful enough to make a good photo.

            See 'ya on the water,
            Capt. Jeff Rogers,
            http://FISHinKONA.com

            Comment


            • Kona Hawaii Fishing Report April wrap-up.

              THE BITE IS ON! Yes, I shouted that. I haven't seen so many fish flags flying in the harbor in quite some time. For those who don't know, the boats get to brag about their catches by flying fish flags (aka brag flags). There is a different colored flag with a fish silhouette for each type of fish so you can even see from a distance what kind of fish were caught. Marlin flags (dark blue) are flying all around the harbor right now and many boats are flying multiple marlin flags.

              There is a known flag flying etiquette. There's no written rules and the standard practices have actually changed a little over the years. There was a time when there was no such thing as a spearfish flag so the standard practice was to fly the marlin flag upside down. The spearfish flag (light blue) came out over a decade ago but to this day, using the upside down marlin flag is still acceptable. If you released your billfish, the red triangle flag with a T on it shows that you let it go. With marlin (blue, black or striped) and spearfish, you put up a flag for each one caught. This is where things can get interesting. It's also a little hard to explain but here I go. Let's say you caught and released two blue marlin. There's two ways to represent that. One way is to put up a marlin flag with two release flags under it but if you really want to brag, you can put up two marlin flags with a release flag under each one. Some boats will use the later method to represent the release of a blue marlin and a striped marlin, distinguishing the two different kinds. With the billfish bite being so good right now with blue marlin and spearfish and some striped marlin still around, some of the flag configurations can be a little hard to decipher. Let's say a boat had a really good day and caught two blue marlin. They kept one and released one. They also caught two striped marlin. Kept one and released one. The simplest flag arrangement would be three marlin flags with two release flags underneath. Kept 2 released 2. The other arrangement might be two marlin flags with a single release flag underneath and then two more marlin flags with a single release flag underneath. That one could be a head scratcher to most people in the harbor. Throw in some upside down marlin flags and you can see how things could get confusing.

              With all that being said, the blue marlin bite has been good with the majority being under 200 lbs. but there were also several big ones caught this month. I said last month that the spearfish bite was really lacking but that's all changed now. Yes, the bite is on!

              There's some ahi coming out of the porpoise schools so now let's go to ahi flag (white) etiquette. An ahi flag is flown if the ahi is over 100 lbs. Sometimes if it's close, it's close enough to brag. There was a time when a separate flag was flown for each ahi caught but that practice went away some years ago. Only one ahi flag flown even if you caught more than one. In fact, that's the way it is done with all the rest of the flags. One mahi mahi flag (yellow) even if you caught several and the same with the ono flag (orange). There's also a flag for skipjack tuna but only flown for the otaru size ones. All of the flags are arranged top to bottom in order of importance. An ono flag would never be flown above a marlin flag or an ahi flag. Usually a mahi mahi flag flies above the ono flag but let's say you caught a 6 lb. mahi mahi and an 80 lb. ono. I know I would certainly fly the ono flag above the mahi mahi flag. With that said, the ono bite is still going strong. Mahi mahi and tunas, not so much.

              Bottom fishing has been hot too. Since most charters don't bottom fish at all and I do it more often than any charter in Kona, the bottom fish flags are a specialty of mine. I actually helped design the giant trevally flag (purple). That one usually goes on top but never above a marlin or ahi flag. The shark flag (red) also goes high up in the pecking order. Since the sharks are so much bigger in size than spearfish, I usually put the spearfish flag underneath a shark but some think that's disrespectful. IMHO, I think a 150 lb. shark is always a more respectful catch than a 30 lb. spearfish. Then there's the amberjack and almaco jack flag (white with a yellow fish) and there's the even lesser known flags for both snapper and barracuda.

              I hope I did a decent job explaining the fish flags. Like I said, there's no written rules so I'm sure some will disagree with what I explained here but as a general rule, this is how it's done. Just to complicate matters even further, the flags should only be flown on the starboard outrigger. There are a lot of different flags, colors and possible combos but one thing is for certain, a lot of flags flying on your outrigger represents a very good day fishing. We have a term for coming into the harbor with no flags flying. Bald headed. You might just have a boat load of ahi between 10 and 30 lbs. (called shibi here) on board and no one would know. You might be flying an ono flag so we figure you caught one but you could have more than a dozen on board. We wouldn't know. You only find out those kinds of details by word of mouth and sometimes from posts by your Facebook friends.

              See 'ya on the water,
              Capt. Jeff Rogers,
              http://FISHinKONA.com

              Comment


              • Kona Hawaii Fishing Report - May wrap-up.

                Kona Hawaii Fishing Report May wrap-up.

                The Kona marlin bite remains good but the "HOT" bite from last month has cooled just slightly. Considering that it's the current speed and direction that turns the bite on and off here, the current did get wishy-washy this month and the bite could have really turned off but it didn't. It just slowed a little for part of the month but the current seems to be getting more stable now so June should be really good. Several guys have told me that to get out of the influence of the island, they have been going way off shore. Finding the marlin way out there has been successful for many and there's been some really big ones both brought in and released. As a side note, by this time of the year there's usually been at least one marlin over 1000 lbs. (aka grander) caught somewhere in Hawaii. Most years, Hawaii gets the first one or one of the first ones of the year but this year, not a single grander has been reported anywhere in the world. Kona hasn't seen a "grander" weighed in since 2015 where we had the first of the year and the third. Maui had the 2nd. Both Kauai and Oahu caught granders last year. It's not that granders haven't been hooked up, it's just that a lot has to go right to actually land one. Most big marlin win the fight.

                Close to shore, the marlin bite hasn't been so good but if you're looking for some eating fish instead of a trophy fish, the ono run (fished very close to shore) has been really good. Mahi mahi are in season right now but few are being caught. There's been both ahi and otaru tunas coming in and the spearfish bite is on. In the past couple of years, I did really well (better than anyone some people said) at catching the spearfish but this year, not so much. Maybe if I went further off shore? But, here's why I don't. No bottom fishing out there.

                The bottom bite is almost a guaranteed way to catch fish. No matter what the current is doing, they don't leave the nearshore ledge, they just find different spots to hang out depending on where the current is favorable for finding food. The worst situation is no current at all. I've been running into that this month and that's highly unusual for Kona but with a little travel time, I usually find out where they're hiding. That travel time is still fishing time and that's where I'm finding most of the tunas. Tuna chunks make good bottom bait but sometimes, you're better off keeping your tuna for the dinner table instead of feeding it to the sharks, giant trevally, amberjack and almoco jacks.

                See 'ya on the water,
                Capt. Jeff Rogers,
                http://FISHinKONA.com

                Comment


                • Kona Hawaii Fishing Report - June wrap-up.

                  Kona Hawaii Fishing Report June wrap-up.

                  The summer marlin tournaments have started and the bite for them has been good but by no means could it be called a hot bite. That's in part because of the current speed and direction as I mentioned in last months report. It still hasn't formed up very well but when it does, the bite will get good. Most of the marlin that are being caught right now are only about 150 lbs. with very few of the bigger females around. Last weekend was a 2 day tournament and a "keeper" had to be 400+ lbs. A bunch of small ones were tagged and released and only one keeper was brought in to the scales and it barely made the cut off weight. There's tournaments this weekend and the next weekend also but the one that is the real prize for Kona is the World Cup on the 4th of July. A world wide marlin tournament that Kona usually wins. The cut off for that is 500 lbs. but the way things are going right now, it doesn't look like Kona will get it this year. I hope I'm wrong.

                  The "blind strike" ahi tuna bite starts in May and got off to a slow start but it's been picking up. There was also an otaru tuna bite happening at the beginning of the month but I haven't seen any in the past couple of weeks. The bite on those picks up as the summer moves forward. There's basically no mahi mahi around and it's not quite the end of their season. The spearfish bite remains slower that it has for the past few years but the good ono bite is making up for it. The last 2 summers, the ono came in early but by the end of June, the bite pretty much disappeared. This summer has been a lot better and looks like it will (fingers crossed) continue.

                  The wacky current and some high winds has made the bottom fishing almost impossible. When conditions were good this month, so was the bite but only for sharks. The most common shark I catch is called a sandbar shark and they average 50 to 150 lbs. They fight real hard at the first part of the fight and again when they get near the boat. I'm fishing about 450 feet down so by the time they're near the boat, the anglers are usually tired. Those sharks try everything they can to stay away from the boat and that really puts the anglers to the test. Good fun along with a well deserved sense of accomplishment.

                  See 'ya on the water,
                  Capt. Jeff Rogers,
                  http://FISHinKONA.com

                  Comment


                  • Kona Hawaii Fishing Report - July 2019 wrap-up.

                    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report July wrap-up.

                    We're right in the middle of the famous Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament and this is their 60th anniversary. It's been an interesting tournament so far. If you've been a regular reader of mine, you would know that the big marlin have been quite scarce so far this year. The minimum "keeper" weight for the tournament is 300 lbs. Anything under that needs to be tagged and released. It's possible that there won't be any keepers this year but the interesting part is the variety of billfish being caught. Pacific blue marlin are the main catch while offshore fishing in the summer months along with some spearfish so of course, both of those have been caught and released. In the winter, the striped marlin are around but as of yesterday, two striped marlin were tagged and released. To top that off, two sailfish were tagged and released. Sailfish are pretty rare here in Hawaii. Some are saying that it's because of the approaching hurricanes (Erick and Flossie) but I'm not buying into that one. They're just too far away to be an influence right now and both are expected to loose power and just become tropical storms. The first one, Erick won't be coming until late Friday, at the end of the tournament. We also had the World Cup tournament at the beginning of the month but with no big fish around, we never even saw a (500+ lb.) qualifier.

                    The "blind strike" ahi bite has remained strong and is the best I've seen in a few years. The same can be said for the ono bite. The last two ono seasons were awful but this year is going strong! There lots of otaru tunas around but hard to catch.

                    I had some successful bottom fishing drops at the beginning of the month but because of the good trolling bite, I spent most of my time trolling. Then came a double whammy! I had problems with my email server so almost everyone that I emailed back about charter availability didn't get my emails. Most went to spam and others weren't being delivered at all. I got the problem fixed just recently but it cost me a week with no charters. Then, the boat breaks. A coolant fitting on an oil cooler broke so now I'm waiting for parts to arrive. That takes a while when you're on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I've been trying to enjoy the extra time off and trying really hard not to worry about the loss of income. Worry never helps any situation and costs some sleepless nights but on the bright side, my "to-do" list got real short.

                    See 'ya on the water,
                    Capt. Jeff Rogers,
                    http://FISHinKONA.com

                    Comment

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