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Catching up: Everyone wins fishing the T.A.R.T.

Updated: 
October 2, 2017 - 12:05am

Ken Corday is the executive producer of the Emmy-winning soap opera Days of Our Lives, which at 53 years is the longest-running daytime television drama on NBC. Corday not only has produced a well-loved program, but he also created a unique fishing event called the Tag and Release Tournament.

The T.A.R.T. has been held in Kona for the past 27 years and is special because everyone wins. Over the years, Corday has created an ohana with close friends, five captains, and their crews — they have all become a tight-knit family.

The tournament was started all those years ago when Corday wanted to show four of his dear friends how incredible the blue marlin fishing was off the Kona coast. He chartered the boats and established a friendly tag and release tournament.

That first tourney featured five boats, five captains and five anglers competing over a five day span — boat to boat, captain versus captain and angler versus angler. Contestants earned points by catching, tagging and releasing majestic and beautiful blue marlin. The objective was to earn the most points calculated by tagging and releasing the great fish without doing it any harm.

Amazingly, Corday has used the same five captains every single year. The boat names have changed occasionally, but the A-Team captains, Capt. Jeff Fay on the Humdinger, Capt. McGrew Rice on the Ihu Nui, Capt. Kevin Nakamura on the Northern Lights, Capt. Bill Casey on the Pacific Blue (this year on the Marlin Grando) and Capt. Bill (B.C.) Crawford on the Kona Blue (this year on the Medusa), have stayed the same.

A remarkable man and philanthropist, Corday supports over 45 charities. He decided to film the T.A.R.T to bring awareness to the blue marlin fishery and the Pacific Ocean world he cherishes so much. At Corday’s expense, the T.A.R.T has tagged hundreds of blue marlin and deployed multiple satellite tags in an attempt to get a better understanding of blue marlin distribution, behavior and biology.

Corday has also produced television programs featuring the T.A.R.T., including the Hawaiian Marlin Challenge and Pacific Blues — a total of seven programs running each year in 200-plus markets including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The programs are co-produced, directed and edited by Farish Media, based in Kona since 1994. During the T.A.R.T., Farish Media has 25 cameras running each day, with a camera chase boat capturing underwater and drone footage.

In recent years, the tournament scoring format changed, allowing a captain to boat a blue marlin that is over 300-pounds if desired. Boating a blue marlin is perfectly legitimate in Hawaii. The Hawaiian fishery has an extremely abundant and healthy blue marlin population. A tag is worth 200 points, and anything over 300-pounds is worth one point per pound.

Fishing in this year’s tournament were were Brent Nelson (Lucky Seaman), Don Brandt (Sid Ficious), Ken Corday (K.C. Longnose), Dan Doherr (King Cobra) and Rick Fitts (Dick Fitts). The five charismatic anglers tagged and released a total of 13 blue marlin, deployed two satellite tags and boated two marlin that weighed 399 and 357 pounds.

While everyone wins in the T.A.R.T, if there was a winning angler it would have been King Cobra, who tagged five blue marlin. Capt. Kevin Nakamura on the Northern Lights scored 1,199 points, with four tags and the 399-pound keeper, to earn Top Captain and Top Boat honors.

“The T.A.R.T is unique as a tournament, as all the anglers, captains and crews win no matter where they place in the standings,” said Fay. “Other competitions have winners and non-winners. Having one angler per boat is another plus. I believe the relaxed conditions bring out the best in all the participants.”

Two giant Ulua for Aloha Kai

On Sept. 15, Capt. Jeff Rodgers, fishing on his charter boat Aloha Kai, showed his clients a “reel” good time by providing them with an epic day fishing. The highlight of the day was catching and releasing two ulua that were both over 100 pounds. One giant-sized fish was estimated at 140 pounds and the other around 105 pounds. Rodger’s four clients also caught and released two sharks. Five otaro were caught and brought onboard for his customer’s gastronomical delight.

Ulua is a prize catch, whether you catch them from a boat, or catch them casting from the shore, any ulua over 100-pounds is worthy of attention. It’s worth noting that Rodger’s releases his ulua and sharks and takes every precaution to insure their survival. When he catches ulua, he carefully slides them through his tuna door for taking pictures and removing the hooks before release, instead of jerking them up over the transom.

The Hawaiian state record ulua is a giant 191-pounder, speared by Al Gadow from Lahaina, Maui on Jan. 14, 1980.

Captains, crews, shore fishermen, please like, follow or post your pictures on our Facebook page “Kona Fish Report,” and if you think you have an interesting offshore, bottom or shore fishing story, please email markjohnstoncatchingup@gmail.com or jdegroote@westhawaiitoday.com.

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