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  1. #146


    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,

  2. #145


    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,

  3. #144

    Default 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,

  4. #143

    Default 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,

  5. #142


    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

  6. #141


    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

  7. #140


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – October wrap-up.

    It can sometimes be quite difficult to gauge the bite in Kona and even more so lately. I use to be able to read the weekly catch report in the local newspaper but just a little over a year ago, the author of that weekly column, Jim Rizzuto passed away and the weekly column disappeared. No one has picked up Jim's torch and it doesn't look like anyone will.

    We also have "The Charter Desk" that writes the daily catches that are weighed in on a dry erase board. For one thing, if you don't weigh in your catch there, It's not written on the board. Second, there's a scale fee that just went up by double so if you don't require an electric chain hoist to get your fish out of your boat and into your truck, they're lifted by hand(s). That's what most of us do most of the time.

    The other method is looking at the fish flags flying on the outriggers. That's always been the best indicator for what's biting because there is a different flag for each fish so they're easily recognizable and when you start seeing a lot of 'em, the bite for that kind of fish is on! But if you're just an occasional fisherman, not so much. The flags go up after a successful trip and stay up until the next trip. It's not unusual to see the same set of flags flying on a boat for a week or more. I always scan the boats for flags on my way out fishing and on my way in. I notice the new ones flying and also take note of the ones that have been up for a while.

    I can safely say that there has been a good marlin bite happening. Kona is still suffering from a lack of tourism due to the recent lava flows and hurricanes (BTW, Kona was never effected by either of those except for the tourist shortage) so there are very few boats out fishing but the ones that are going out, marlin are pretty much a daily encounter.

    The tuna bite has been pretty good and it's about to get even better! Tunas are more easily caught around structure and Kona's biggest offshore structure just went back in. It's an offshore fish farm for Almaco jacks but the massive structure holds all kinds of fish around it. Especially tunas. Mahi mahi and ono are also frequent visitors looking for something to eat. It will take a little while for it really start producing on a regular basis but it's a given that it soon will. I mentioned last month that the otaru tunas hadn't shown up but they did this month up on "The Grounds". They're not showing on the surface but an easy catch following the ledge.

    The bottom bite has been spotty and I would have to say that the reason is more because of my choices. I've been quite spoiled successfully hitting up the same honey hole for a long time but one thing I've learned over the years is that my #1 honey hole needs to change from time to time. They don't last forever. I'm not sure why that is, only THAT it is. I'm absolutely positive that there are now other bottom spots with more fish so it's time to look at some of my old honey holes to see if that's where they're hiding.

    See 'ya on the water,
    Capt. Jeff Rogers

  8. #139


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – September wrap-up.

    September is typically the slowest tourist season month for Hawaii but this September was particularly brutal. Tourism is the foundation of Hawaii's economy. While the other islands have had slight increases in tourism this year, the Big Island fell way short. Even many people that did come here said they had concerns and second thoughts. Are we going to be covered by lava? Blown off the island by a hurricane? Earthquakes, floods, wild fires, tsunami's? For us that live in Kona, none of these were of any concern but it sure put a damper on our income. Enough whining.... How about the fishing?

    I've always liked fishing in September because the fish are still in summer mode. The "blind strike" ahi tuna bite typically starts slowing down but the bite is still happening and seemed to be more abundant than the blue marlin bite. Most of the marlin have been small with only a few big ones being reported.

    Mahi mahi season is coming up shortly but we have been lucky that the bite on those was pretty good all summer long. Last winter was good too. And the summer before that. In other words, the "season" has become more of a year-round bite for us for a while now.

    The ono bite picked up this month but should diminish as we head toward the cooler months. The good thing is that the bigeye tuna and spearfish will be showing up soon. The otaru tuna bite never really developed like it usually does for this time of the year but they can still show up any time.

    Just like last month, I didn't do much bottom fishing. When I did, I did less jigging and did more drops with fresh tuna chunks. It's rare to catch sharks on a jig but with tuna chunks, it's the most common bite that I expect. I release all of the sharks, even the edible ones. Most shark species don't have a urinary tract and secrete their urine through their skin so the meat tastes like pee. Even in nations that eat almost anything, they don't eat those. Thresher and mako both have urinary tracts and they are the most common shark meat consumed.

    The shark I catch the most here is the sandbar shark. They average 50 to 150 lbs. and they have a urinary tract so they are edible. I even tried it once. Not bad but I could tell it was shark meat. In the Atlantic, sandbar sharks were harvested to near extinction so they are protected there but not in the Pacific. They are slow breeders so taking some out the environment puts a big dent in their numbers for a long time. The big plus for me (and my anglers) by releasing them is that we get to catch them again, and again, and again. I also re-catch the same giant trevally and amberjacks. I have tagged thousands of those so catching one with one of my tags in it is quite common. Reading the tag numbers gives me a record. Sharks have very tough skin so using common fish tags won't work plus, the only way to get close enough to a shark to be able to read that tiny number would be to kill it, therefore defeating the purpose.

    See 'ya on the water,
    Capt. Jeff Rogers

  9. #138


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – August wrap-up.

    Ahi both big and small were the main catch this month. I'm not just counting charter boats but also the many small boats that have been hanging around F buoy. It more resembles a parking lot on the ocean out there with most of the boat sizes ranging from 18 feet to 21 feet. Trying to get in where the tunas are with a big charter boat trolling is nearly impossible and if you do manage to squeeze in between, it makes them mad because they know that your boat is probably scaring the ahi and making them go deeper. I gave up even trying the buoy and tried my luck on the ledges and that's where I found mine. Some of the small boats have also found out that they're on the ledges too.

    August is usually a good month for marlin but one of the main determining factors of how many are caught in a month is how many boats are out there trying for them. The later part of August is always slow for tourism and with the recent lava flows and then a couple of hurricane threats, tourism has been even slower than normal. I'm sure there's some nice marlin out there but there's little effort going out to catch them.

    Ono is a summer time fish and the bite should be hot but I would have to say that the bite all summer long has been more 'lukewarm' than hot. Mahi mahi are actually more abundant than ono and it's off season for them. The spearfish bite usually slows down this time of year but there are still some out there. This is the time of year that the otaru tunas should be here in abundance. They did finally show up but late in the month. I haven't been out in a while due to the slow tourist season but when I do get out there, I don't think there are any other charters that do a better job of catching those tunas than me. I've learned a few tricks over the years.

    I didn't do much bottom fishing this month and when I did, it was mostly speed jigging. Although very labor intensive, it's both fun and tiring. I actually catch bigger fish using tuna chunks and it's a lot less work than jigging. I really don't mind working hard to catch fish though. What I really don't like is dragging lures around all day hoping for a bite. If the trolling bite isn't really happening, it's boring for both me and my customers. Being bored can be almost as tiring as hard work. That's why I like to break up the day with some bottom fishing (ummm...catching).

    See ‘ya on the water soon ,
    Capt. Jeff Rogers ,

  10. #137


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – July wrap-up.

    The blue marlin bite remained good as it should for summer. I made the prediction in last month's report that the big female marlin would be showing up soon and they did. Not just in Kona but all over the islands. On both Kauai and Oahu, grander marlins were caught just this month where last year, there were no granders caught all year in all of Hawaii. Kona won the World Cup Marlin Tournament this month. A fishing tournament that truly is fished all around the world. The minimum qualifying weight is 500 lbs. and Kona was the only place on the planet to land a qualifying fish. It weighed in at 760.5 lbs. and that also ends (for now) a long standing tie for the most wins. Hawaii and Bermuda are the two top places for a big marlin win and we ended up in a tie for the most World Cup wins in 2007, 2009 and again (and since) in 2014. So with this years win, that puts Hawaii at 9 wins and Bermuda at 8 wins. Yes, the big girls are here but most of the marlin being caught aren't the big beasts, they're the smaller males and there's plenty of them around. Much more than last summer.

    The blind strike ahi bite remains good with several tunas over the 100 pound mark being caught this month. The smaller otaru tunas are here but not easy to catch. They're feeding on copepods and really focused in on those but with enough patience, you can usually catch some. The spearfish bite slowed way down but that's expected for this time of year. The ono bite has really fluctuated this summer but over all, much better than last years summer run.

    The bottom fishing has been hard to do because the smaller tunas have been hard to catch. Jigging is always an option but using fresh tuna chunks is always more productive and a lot less work.

    My boat is actually out of the water in dry dock right now. It's been out for a week now and I'm hoping to be back in the water before the end of this week. I had to haul it out for an emergency repair and as long as I'm out, I'm taking care of some other items that can only be done while the boat is out of the water. It's those "other items" that may take longer than expected but worrying about it won't do anything but give me ulcers so even though I'm missing out on a really good marlin bite, I'm trying to take it in stride. The boat is looking very nice with a shiny hull and new bottom paint. When I get back in the water, I hope the fish find it equally attractive!

    See ‘ya on the water soon ,
    Capt. Jeff Rogers ,

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