Catching Up: Kona’s first Grand Slam of the year is EZ Pickens

Like the incoming ground seas, Kona’s offshore fishing picked up big time this past week. And in true Kona fashion, the fishing quickly turned back on and is red hot. Charter boat and private boat captains had excellent fishing opportunities with several notable catches. Thanks to better currents following the super moon, once again we now have super fishing.

Blue marlin, striped marlin, spearfish, mahimahi and ono took top billing over the week. Only a few boats caught ahi, but the ahi bite will change dramatically though as spring approaches.

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I’m happy to report the striped marlin have finally shown up in numbers. Many boats have had multiple striped marlin bites. Hopefully, this nice stripey bite will remain consistent from now on until the end of April.

EZ Pickens Grand Slam

Congratulations to EZ Pickens owners Brad and Vicki Pickings, Capt. Chip Van Mols and crew member Shawn Slattery for catching Kona’s first Grand Slam of the year last Sunday. A Grand Slam occurs when three different species of billfish are caught in a single day.

With Capt. Chip Van Mols at the helm, filling in for Capt. Chuck Wigzell, the Pickings caught a blue marlin, two striped marlin, and three spearfish. The owners of the luxurious 54-foot Hatteras also had three other shots at spearfish.

Reading the current after leaving the harbor, Van Mols who normally captains the Luna, determined it would be best to go north. Obviously, it was a good call on the seasoned captains part.

Shortly after reaching the north corner of “The Grounds,” the beautiful boat hooked up to two striped marlin, a double-header. One fish was kept to eat, and the other was released. A fine way to start the day.

Later in the day while fishing off “The Light,” they hooked into another double-header, this time it was two spearfish. The experienced anglers and crew quickly tagged and released both fish.

After catching the stripeys and spearfish everyone onboard was thinking the same thing, they all knew they needed a blue marlin for a Grand Slam. Shortly afterward, fishing in the same area where they caught the spearfish, a 150-pound blue marlin appeared in the spread. In tournament-like, lightning speed, the small blue was quickly tagged and released, and they had their elusive Grand Slam.

Of course, now thoughts of a double Grand Slam was in the minds of all onboard. A double Grand Slam is two fish each of three different species. One more blue marlin would complete the task, and they still had time to do it.

Around 4 p.m., another knock down raised hopes of a double grand slam and hearts probably pounded a little harder as the line peeled out away from the boat. Everyone was hoping little blue marlin, but once identified, it turned out to be a huge spearfish. They ended up boating the spearfish, which bottomed out a 50-pound scale. What a day and congratulations.

Big fish of the week for Marlin Magic II

Capt. Marlin Parker on the Marlin Magic II unleashed his creative fishing magic before his client’s eyes when he produced a 532-pound blue marlin right out of the sea. He performed this feat after tagging and releasing a little blue marlin estimated around 65 to-70-pounds on the very same lure.

Both the big and small blue marlin attacked a tiny Marlin Magic Infant Blue. Parker always says, “little lures catch big fish,” and that was the case last Saturday.

Former hockey player Evan Marble had his magic going on too. Doing a six-person rotation on rods, each time it was Evan’s turn, he caught a blue marlin. That’s the kind of guy you want to fish tournaments with and also a good reason to rotate. With one more fish, he would have had a hat trick!

Marble did an excellent job getting the big marlin to the boat, but unfortunately, it got tail wrapped and ended up doing a death dive and expired. The good news is all the meat was put to good use, and none went to waste.

Unreal offshore fly fishing

Congratulations to Northern Lights Captain Kevin Nakamura, fly fishermen Roy For and crew members David Borges and Kyle Vannatta. Roy who is attempting to catch every billfish species on a fly caught and released a shortbill spearfish on a 20-pound test tippet.

Two hours later, Roy switched gears hoping for an IFGA world fly record. Fishing with an 8-pound test tippet, remarkably, he caught and boated a shortbilled spearfish. Unfortunately, the spearfish came up 2.5-pounds shy of the world record.

Nakamura had an amazing day on the Northern Lights, raising a nice blue marlin and five spearfish, giving Roy excellent opportunities to cast. That’s some serious fishing folks and pretty work by all involved.

Good golly, Miss Molly

Congratulations to Capt. Molly Palmer and angler Billy Michaud for catching a 53-pound ono last Wednesday. By Kona standards, a 53-pound ono is an amazing catch. Fishing on the charter boat Camelot, Michaud’s giant-sized ono is the heaviest ono to date in 2108. The heaviest ono in 2017 was a 75.5-pounds.

Farewell and best wishes

To Captain Bruce Herren and his wife, Carol Hinkle-Herren. The well-liked husband and wife fishing team are moving back to the mainland. Fishing out of Honokohau Harbor, Bruce and Carol accomplished many remarkable feats fishing the gorgeous waters of West Hawaii.

Last Thursday, fishing their last day as owners of the Raptor, the accomplished captain and one of the world’s finest female anglers did what they do best, and went out in style when they tagged and released a blue marlin.

The two leave Kona — for the time being — with an impressive resume of outstanding angling achievements. They and the Raptor will always be remembered for their banner year of blue marlin catches in 2015.

In 2015, Capt. Herren caught a total of 146 blue marlin in a single season. An incredible year for the Kona captain and believed to be the most blue marlin caught and recorded in a single season by any Kona captain.

In 2015, the captain was also the top tagging skipper for the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) International Billfish Tagging Program with 175 tag releases. The 175 tags include all billfish species.

As for his wife, Kona is home to some of the world’s finest female anglers, and Carol is certainly one of them. In the last six years, Carol has caught a total of 316 blue marlin ranging in size from 30 to 880-pounds. Amazingly, out of the 316, only nine fish were kept, and the other 296 were released.

In 2015, Carol set a major female angler milestone when she caught 124 blue marlin in a single season. While the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) doesn’t have an award for anglers that have caught the most fish of individual species in a single year. Carol’s 124 blue marlin is a world record for the most recorded blue marlin caught by a female angler in a single year using IGFA rules.

Kona’s entire fishing community would like to wish Bruce and Carol a fond farewell. May they have calm seas in all their future endeavors.

Raptor becomes Divergent

The Raptor changed hands with new ownership last Friday, and the alluring sportfishing yacht will be renamed Divergent. The Divergent will be available for charter and tournament fishing and will be captained by Capt. Kevin Hibbard with veteran deckhand KJ Robinson remaining on a crew.

Best wishes to the Divergent’s new owner, Kevin, and KJ. I have a feeling West Hawaii Today’s readership will be hearing more about them shortly.

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Big Fish List

We have a new big fish list started, please contact us if you think you caught the biggest fish of an individual species. There are a lot of open positions right now too.