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Thread: Hawaii

  1. #132


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – February wrap-up.

    Some nice size blue marlin showed up this month with several "beast" status marlin caught. Some were kept but most of them were released. FYI, a 500+ lb. marlin is a "beast". Kona is usually the best place in the world to land the coveted first "grander" (1000+) of the year but the first grander of this year was caught in Australia. They are famous for black marlin but this year Australia landed it's first ever grander blue marlin. Kona (or anywhere else in Hawaii) hasn't seen a grander weighed in since 2015. In 2015 there were four granders caught in Kona, one in Hilo and another one in Maui. There's no doubt that granders have been hooked and fought since then but those big girls usually win the fight. The last marlin I had on was a big one that just kept digging for the deep right near the boat. I had no choice but to crank up the drag but not long after that, the line snapped. A lot needs to go right to land the big ones. It's striped marlin season but very few have been caught this season so far. Kona's first black marlin of the year was caught this month. It's also the peak of the season for spearfish and while the season started out great, February was a bit slow for them. I pretty much always dedicate the top paragraph of the fishing report to the billfish and while you may think I covered 'em all, we have just one more, sailfish. Sails are a pretty rare catch here but not lately. Several have been caught so far this year just North of Keahole point and also outside of Keauhou bay. The sails aren't likely to take the normal Kona trolling lure so if you want some sail action, you need to bust out your special techniques.

    This has been a good off season bite for mahi mahi. We've had a lot of marine debris floating by the island and if there's any size to it, any time of year, it's a mahi mahi oasis in an otherwise big blue desert. Oahu had a debris field come by their island that was so big that a marine warning had to be posted because of the danger. Getting huge chunks of rope or netting stuck in your props REALLY sucks! Marine debris also makes good fishing for tuna and ono. There was a good ono bite this month but most of them were caught in the traditional "ono lane". I did really well catching the "chunk light" tunas this month. The big ones (aka Otaru) have been around and again, out of season.

    The bottom bite wasn't all that great this month but I did do pretty good on a few of the attempts. There were several days this month that bottom fishing was impossible due to high winds and rough water. January and February are usually the most challenging months for us boat captains because of the weather. This year has been mild compared to recent years. Another January / February hazard for us is big surf. Almost every year we loose a boat or two at the harbor entrance because of it. It doesn't look like were going to get ANY of the big surf this year that Hawaii is famous for. Sorry surfers Even the famous "Bonzai Pipeline" on Oahu didn't produce the big ones. March usually is the beginning of the calmer waters here.

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

  2. #131


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – January wrap-up.

    The new year started off great and was just a continuation of the hot bite on blue marlin and spearfish that we were experiencing in December. That lasted into the middle of the month. Then I didn't fish for a week and when I went back out there, everything had changed. The currents were screwey and as usual when that happens, the trolling bite drops dramatically. It's a good thing that it didn't last for long though. The currents have recently returned to normal and the bite is starting to pick back up again. There were a few striped marlin caught this month but we have yet to see the winter run kick in.

    Some mahi mahi are still trickling in and some ono too but it's not the season for either. The FADs VV buoy and OT buoy went totally dead later in the month with no life whatsoever on them but I got the hot tip from another captain that C buoy was holding both ahi and aku. I went there last Friday and while I couldn't get anything to bite trolling, I went deep and scored a couple of 25lb. ahi. We missed several other deep strikes. It takes over 2 hours one way to troll from the harbor to the buoy and of course about the same time trolling back. There's always hope of getting a fish while trolling in between even when the trolling bite is off but we had no luck there. After taking the weekend off I was looking forward to going back to C buoy and catching a whole bunch of ahi the following Monday but when I got to the buoy, there were bottlenose dolphins everywhere. With those animals around, there's about a 0 chance of ever getting a fish to the boat. They eat 'em right off the hook. Much like fishing for salmon with sea lions around. You just have to move on. The next day I did find a ledge where some of the tunas had moved to but it was late in our trip. We scored a barracuda, an ahi and a couple of skipjack before having to head back to the harbor.

    The winter months are suppose to be the peak bottom fishing season and I try to get in some bottom fishing on almost every trip. I did score a big almaco jack at the beginning of the month but even before the currents got screwey, the bottom fishing results were pretty disappointing. It's a new month and a fresh start tomorrow. The sun is shining and the winds are supposed to be light out of the South. Look out fish, I'm commin' to get 'ya!

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

  3. #130


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – December wrap-up.

    What a great way to end the year! There was a bite on almost everything this month. Winter is usually the slowest time of the year for blue marlin but the bite was about as good as it gets even in the summer months. All sizes, big to small but still no “grander” for us this year. Spearfish season starts in January but we’re already seeing some show up. What we haven’t seen show up is the striped marlin. It should be better by this time of year but January through March is the peak season so they’ll be here soon.

    December was the tail end of mahi mahi season but the bite remained strong all month so even though the season is officially over, it’s possible that the bite can continue for a while. If you’re a regular reader of this report, you may remember that even though summer is also suppose to be slow for them, last summer, the bite was pretty good all summer long. We also didn’t have a good run on ono last summer, that’s the peak season for them but we have been having a pretty good run on them so far this winter. It actually started about the middle of November. The tunas also are defying the season calendar. Winter is the peak of bigeye tuna season and usually prevalent around the FAD’s but it’s the yellowfin tunas that have been the major catch on the buoys. The 100+ ahi tuna bite has been about normal for this time of the year. The big skipjack tuna, called otaru (otado locally) have even been around though they are generally only seen in the late summer months.

    Winter is the peak bottom fishing season but high winds kept me away from there on several trips this month. When I was able to fish it, the bite certainly wasn’t hot but patience paid off. I caught fish of some kind or another on every trip this month. In fact, the last time I got skunked on any trip was back in September.

    Happy New Year and may all your 2018 fishing trips get you fish bites, fights and spectacular sights.

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

  4. #129


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – November wrap-up.

    There’s a good bite going on right now. It started early in the month with a good blue marlin bite and just past mid month, an ono run completely out of season and mahi mahi close to shore swimming with them. There would have been a whole lot more fish caught this month overall but there were very few charter fishing boats going out to get them.

    So why aren’t there more boats going out? One of the reasons is that November isn’t a hot month for tourism anyway but even more so, we are experiencing the slow death of the Kona charter fishing industry. Maybe “death” is too harsh of a word to use but the number of charter fishing patrons have been on a slow decline for a long time now. Kona charter fishing will probably never die here because there will always be some people who want to go out and try their luck but there was a time when tourists visiting Kona had very few choices for tourist related activities. Go see the volcano a must. Helicopter ride to see the volcano or the whole island, expensive but what else was there? Scuba diving if you were certified, and then there was fishing charters. Also pretty pricy but other than the botanical gardens, the coffee farm and macadamia nut farm tours, not a whole lot of choices for things to do other than hang out on the beach or by the pool.

    Then came things like Atlantis submarine, the zip lines. 1, 2 then 3 and now 4 of them. ATV rides. Mountain bike tours. And also that pesky dive certification requirement? A thing of the past with the “introductory dive” allowing pretty much anyone to take a short class and then go scuba diving. Kayak rentals and now stand-up paddle boards and surf lessons too. Swim with the dolphins. Night time manta snorkel and/or dive. In fact, unlike it was just a decade ago, there are now more snorkel and dive boats going out per day than there are fishing boats. Most of those snorkel and dive boat operators are guys who use to be charter fishing captains. The “activities” list could go on and on but the fact of the matter is there’s just a whole lot more competition for the tourist dollar than there was a couple of decades ago.

    All that being said, I’m not about to give up on charter fishing. I came to the Big Island in 1985 and worked in the air tour business with both helicopters and airplanes. I did charter fishing with my dad off and on. Then I went scuba diving for over 5 years until I got tired of being wet for a living. I came back to charter fishing 23 years ago and I just can’t picture myself doing anything else. Catching big sea monsters and/or delicious table fare for my customers is something I enjoy doing and I’m good at it. My December calendar is filling up quite nicely so I’m happy about that. With only 7 days out charter fishing this month, the fewest since the economy crash of 2008, I can’t wait for this month to be a distant memory.

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

  5. #128


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – October wrap-up.

    October has often been one of my favorite months to fish because often it’s just an extended summer month with flat seas, light winds and a pretty decent bite but this October we got hit by a couple of winter storms. The last one dumped so much rain on us that it sunk two boats in Kona and three on Oahu. Other boats were in danger of sinking and came close but didn’t. Any more rain and there would have been more sinkings. A bilge pump is only as good as the battery that supplies its power. Even after that storm passed, the seas remained pretty rough for a couple of days.

    Luckily for us here in Kona even in the winter we have more calm days than rough days. The high mountains protect the Kona coast and by tucking in closer to shore you can usually find some calmer water. And hopefully some fish. With mahi mahi season starting, fishing the ledge can be quite profitable. The ledges and VV buoy have also been holding tunas.

    In the middle of the month the currents got going so fast that the bottom fishing bite died. If the current is moving too fast, the fish need to go hide from it. It was frustrating that while the current speed was favorable and the bottom bite was good, the bait fish became really hard to catch. Catching one / some and dropping to the bottom became a nearly instant bite. When the current started moving fast, the bait fish were easy to catch but it didn’t do us any good since the bottom fish were no where around. The current has since slowed way down and the bottom bite came right back. And yes, the bait fish are again hard to find and hard to catch. Persistence has paid off though. I caught a lot of sharks this month and some of them were species that I rarely catch. I got a mako. It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve caught one of those. Another was a Galapagos shark. I maybe see 2 or 3 a year. Another was a oceanic blacktip. It’s been more than 5 years since I’ve seen one of those and another was a bignose shark. Again, I only see 2 or 3 a year of those. They’re all hard fighters.

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

  6. #127


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – September wrap-up.

    Summer is tournament season and while the main prize is always for the biggest blue marlin or the most marlin tagged and released, most of the tournaments also award points for ahi and spearfish and even other tournaments have categories for biggest mahi mahi and biggest ono. The oldest and by many factors the most coveted tournament here in Kona is the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament. This tournament is usually held in August and the dates of the tournament centered around the new moon but this year the tournament coordinators decided to hold it around the new moon in late September. As a result of the late date, there were a lot fewer teams competing. That’s a mistake they don’t plan on repeating next year so the upcoming 59th annual HIBT will be held in August as usual.

    There were some really nice size marlin caught this month but only one qualifying (weighable) marlin during the HIBT that weighted in at 486 lbs. Just a little over a week later in a 3 day tournament, there were two marlin over 600 lbs. weighed in and the smaller billfish tag and release numbers were good also. I’ve always said that I didn’t believe that the moon phase was as big of a deal here in Kona as it’s mainly the currents that turn the bite on and off. The currents during the HIBT were wishy washy but they formed up nicely later in the month. And the bite got better. Unfortunately for the tournament coordinators, there’s no way to predict the currents off of the Kona coast. Predominate currents are wind driven and hit the other side of the island. Because we’re on the leeward side of the island, it changes all of the time.

    As I said last month, the mahi mahi bite has been pretty good throughout the summer even though it’s not mahi mahi season, it continued on this month also. Summer officially ended this month and so did the ono season. We never had a good ono run all summer. Can we all say “that sucks!” Luckily the good summer tuna bite somewhat made up for it but I personally prefer ono to tuna.

    The bottom bite continued to be above average for summer and a catch that blew my mind this month was the catch (and release) of two giant trevally, back-to-back and both weighing over 100 lbs. It’s a big deal to even catch one in a whole year. I was lucky enough to catch a 100+ pounder in June but getting two in a row was really something. We also scored several tunas and two sharks on the same trip. This leads me into my close for this months report.......

    Since Jim Rizzuto passed on in early July, the Kona fishery has not had the weekly fishing reports in our local paper. For many, Jims weekly reports started those Monday mornings off with a smile. One freelance writer, Mark Johnston has decided to pick up the torch and carry on with the “Big Fish List” and weekly columns in our local paper. In addition, Mark has a Facebook page that can be found by doing a search for “Kona fish report”. Make sure you use the exact wording or you’ll end up getting my reports or some other junk. I met with Mark on my boat at the harbor yesterday and while he knows that there’s no one that can fill Jim’s shoes, he’s enthusiastic about taking on this challenge. He wrote a good piece in the paper last Monday. I enjoy his writing style and I look forward to reading many more.

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

  7. #126


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – August wrap-up.

    There were a few good size marlin brought in this month and last month also, since I didn’t report on the fishing last month. I would have to say that the most spectacular of those big marlin catches was a 901 lb. black marlin caught on the same day I did my last report. Black marlin are a rare catch here in Hawaii with only about a half dozen caught a year. In 2000, I caught an 843 pounder that was the biggest anyone had seen in a long time and it took 17 years for someone to beat it. In 1980 there was a 1, 205 lb. black marlin caught and is the only “grander” black on record ever being landed in Hawaii. I think the 901 pounder will remain on top for a long while.

    Still no grander blue marlin for us this year and although there were a few big ones so far this summer, the overall marlin bite hasn’t been very good. People pointing fingers have come up with a couple of good reasons as to why. One being that the use of Private FAD’s has become common place. These FAD’s (Fish Aggregation Device) hold the tunas and other bait fish in large numbers and keep them from coming to the ledges on our island. Most are placed 50+ miles from shore. With so much fish being held offshore, the marlin are staying out there too. The 2nd reason could be the longline fishing fleet from Honolulu. The majority of the fleet has formed a horseshoe around the South, East and West of the Big Island. It’s like a wall of commercial fishing boats offshore. While the majority of their catch isn’t marlin, they take a bunch!

    Summer isn’t mahi mahi season but we have had a fair bite on them all summer long. The ahi bite has been fair. Summer is ono season but this summer hasn’t been very good for them. Some spearfish are being caught even though it’s the slow season for them. The otaru (otado), (big skipjack tuna), (chunk light tuna) are a typical catch in late summer but the run actually started in early summer this year. They’ve been a little finicky about biting but putting in your time, you’ll eventually get some.

    The bottom bite has been really good for it being summer. Typically the bottom bite is slow in the summer but not this year. While the sharks are a year round fishery, the giant trevally are usually a pretty rare catch in the summer but I caught a few nice ones this month. There’s one really good thing about the bottom fishery, no matter how many longliners and FAD’s are out there, it has no effect on the bottom bite.

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

  8. #125


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – July wrap-up.

    Its tournament season and blue marlin season but all of the Kona fishermen have had a hard case of the blues this month. If you’re at all familiar with the Kona fishery or even Hawaii fishing at all, the name Jim Rizzuto should be a quite familiar name to you. Jim lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on July 2nd. He kept the whole thing quite a secret and even his closest captain friends had no idea. I was lucky enough to be one of his last stories when he gave me the front page story of our local papers sports section with the catch and release of a 100 lb. giant trevally. Jim and I always had a good time talking about fishing because unlike most of the fishing fleet that just trolls lures all day, I like to target a wide variety of big game fish from the bottom depths. That gave Jim a bunch of stories over the years that veered from the typical Marlin, ahi, spearfish, mahi mahi and ono stories that are typically the only thing to write about. On this last one, I gave Jim the important details on the catch and then, because he was so familiar with my fishery, I told him “just have some fun with it” to see what interesting angles he could come up with on the story and in true fashion, it was another great one. I know Jim wished that I would call him more often about my catches than I did but when we did get on the phone together; the conversations seemed to last forever. We could really get into some lengthy chats. Jim was also quite familiar to the “garage sales” crowd. Jim and I would run into each other often and let each other know if someone was selling fishing gear. Jim was quite the collector and I even found myself picking up interesting fishing things from time to time just to give to Jim the next time we ran into each other while doing the garage sale circuit.

    Considered the “go to” expert on any kind of Hawaii fishing, there was very little that Jim didn’t know about the fish and the varied techniques to catch them. Jim started writing about fishing in the 60’s and when my dad and I arrived in Hawaii in the early 80’s, buying Jims Hawaii fishing books were a MUST if you wanted to go catching instead of just fishing. Jim also wrote for Marlin Magazine, Saltwater Sportsman, Western Outdoors, Hawaii fishing News and several more but the one that will be missed most of all is his weekly fishing stories in the Kona (West Hawaii Today) paper. Along with these great stories were often some eye catching photos and “The Big Fish List” that let all of us fisherman know from a fairly large list, the biggest of each species caught in the year so far. All of that seems like it will be a thing of the past. There doesn’t seem to be anyone picking up the torch to keep the Kona citizens up to date on the fishing scene.

    Capt. Jeff Rogers

  9. #124


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – June wrap-up.

    We’re just getting into the peak blue marlin season here in Kona. June is kind of the lead-in. While a few nice ones were brought in this month, the numbers are a little lighter than we expected. We don’t expect to see many striped marlin in the summer but there’s still some nice size ones hanging around. The spearfish have been plentiful and are the most common billfish being caught right now. The guys commercial fishing for tuna at night are picking up some broadbill swordfish.

    We’re having a good ahi bite. Good in the numbers being caught but if you’re one of those commercial fishing guys depending on your catch to make a living, it’s time to cry. The price the fishermen get for any fish is based on supply and demand. When the bite is good and a lot of fish are being caught, be that ahi, ono, mahi mahi or whatever, the price drops. The local markets can only handle so much fresh fish. In fact, more fish is consumed here than is provided by the local fishermen so most of the fish is (longer shelf life) frozen fish that is flown in from the South Pacific so the local fishermen have to compete with that price also. Restaurants often advertise their fish as fresh local “catch of the day” but more often than not, that’s a lie. Right now though, if its ahi on the menu, it’s very likely that it is local caught. We locals can easily tell the difference from the rather tasteless frozen fish shipped here vs. the flavor and texture of the local caught fish. Maybe it’s time for some truth in advertising laws to be enforced like we did with “100% Kona coffee” that really wasn’t.

    The ono bite has been decent with the peak month of the season hitting now. The ono are normally caught close to shore but right now, more are being caught in the deep than near shore. That means they’re coming in so I’m getting ready for a good ono bite coming up. There’s still some mahi mahi showing up but that gets less and less as the water warms up. The “chunk light” tuna bite is still on but not as good as last month. The peak for those is August.

    The bottom fishing bite was good at the beginning of the month! I even made the cover of our local papers sports section with the catch of a 100 lb. class ulua. I also did good with shark, almaco jack and amberjacks. I bottom fish more than any other captain in Kona but I’ve been boatless for over a week now. I had an exhaust manifold blow out on me and getting parts and repair has been slow. I keep thinking, maybe tomorrow? I was supposed to be out fishing on a charter today but if I was, I wouldn’t have finished this report before the end of the month.

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

  10. #123


    Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – May wrap-up.

    The blue marlin bite remained kind of average for May. The striped marlin season is almost over and we never really did have a good run on them this season. This month there were some good size stripes caught but just like in the past couple of years, we haven’t seen any kind of abundance. I really thought that the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 would have had a notable affect by now and we should have been catching more than in the past few years. I still think the conservation act was a good thing and we will eventually reap the rewards with a better billfish fishery. The spearfish bite was pretty good although the peak season for those has already passed. We will see them caught throughout the summer months and there’s always a chance of a short term hot bite happening.

    May kicks off the beginning of ahi season. We catch them year-round but the summer months are known for “blind strike” ahi. In the winter months, we don’t expect to catch an ahi unless we’re “working a porpoise school” but when the season hits, so do the ahi. Any time, any place hence the term “blind strike” We just had one of the best ahi runs we’ve seen in a long time for May. I hope it keeps up all summer! Another type of tuna, very misunderstood by the majority of fishermen is the Pacific skipjack. The reason I say misunderstood is that Pacific skipjack is the most commonly consumed tuna on the planet and most fishermen don’t know that fact. When you buy “chunk light” tuna in the can, you’re eating Pacific skipjack. In the Atlantic, there are also skipjack tunas but for some reason, they just don’t taste good. When you say “skipjack tuna” to an East coast fisherman, you can see the “yuk” expression on their face. Here in Hawaii, the small skipjacks are used for bait and rightfully so. While the meat on a small one isn’t bad, it’s not good either. Once the skipjacks get 10+ pounds, the meat really starts to change. A 20 pounder has a taste and texture even better. We normally see the big skipjacks in the late summer but they’re here now.

    We’re still in mahi mahi season but there’s not many around. Ono season starts in May and we had a really nice run for a little over a week this month and then it slowed way down. Last year the ono season was a disaster. It started off real good in May of 2016 and then we had a storm come in that churned up the nearshore waters. That’s where the ono hang out. They left and never came back. I got really excited last year when ono season started off so good but this year, because of what happened last year, I’m taking a “wait and see” attitude.

    The bottom fishery is usually a mix of sharks, amberjack, almaco jack and trevally but this month is was pretty much all shark catch and release. I even caught and released a hammerhead this month. A shark I haven’t seen in about 5 years. The most common shark I catch and release is the sandbar shark. They’re a strong fighter and average between 50 and 200 lbs. Sandbar sharks were commercially caught in the Atlantic to the point of near extinction until they became protected there. The Hawaii population is not regulated but appears to be very healthy. I’ve only killed a couple over the years. One was my daughters 2nd world record and another I ate because another fisherman told me that they were good eating. It tasted like shark. It’s not unusual for me to catch the same sandbar sharks over and over and over again so as long as I keep releasing them, they’re the perfect “sustainable fishery”.

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

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