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Archives 2: A Special Look At Hawaii Offshore Fishing: Jim Rizzuto
After an amazing nine months of great catches, billfishing took a big dive during October throughout Hawaii waters. Consider this: with 77 boats competing in the Lahaina Shell Halloween Jackpot, only one team caught a billfish. During the entire month, only one Kona catch came close to making either of our top-ten lists for weighed or tagged blues. That catch, a 700-lb tagged release on a purple/black Softhead ™, however, gives us the excuse to give you some tips on using the highly popular lure, and the absence of changes in the list gives us the space to write about them.

The Softhead ™ has the reputation for being a lure you can just toss over your shoulder and position anywhere in the wake with the same great results. No worries about where to put it on a wave to get the right action; the perpendicular face of the lure adjusts to all wave angles. The weight of the lure is balanced just right to pop, grab air, drop, shoot out a stream of bubbles and then repeat the cycle endlessly. What’s more, the head and skirt are fused together as one unit. Oops! There’s a problem. Softheads are made in three pieces, which can tend to come apart with use. Depending on the detergent you use to clean the lure, the chemicals sometimes attack the bonding agent. Best to keep them away from cleaners containing Chlorox, for example, unless you actually do want the pieces to come apart. Once the lure pieces separate, however, you can bond them back together. I contacted Frank Johnson, the Moldcraft CEO, who told me you can reattach separated pieces with PVC pipe glue or Superglue. “But don’t expect to get as strong a bond as we get at the factory,” Frank said. Fortunately, you just need a bond strong enough to keep the lure together until the next fish takes it apart again.

Skipper Steve Tarbill and crew John Rooney caught our 700-pound inspiration for this report on Kona Concept. To facilitate releases, Steve and John are now using single-hook rigs on their lures rather than the traditional tandem-hook sets. "Having only one hook is very helpful when taking the hook out and you don’t have to worry about catching yourself with the trailing hook," Steve said. When rigging the single, Steve positions the hook so the bend sticks out behind the tail and the point is buried in the tail tips. He rigs it to stay there by using two sleeves to attach the trailing hook. The sleeve nearest the eye of the hook secures the loop. The sleeve nearest the lure is positioned to keep the lure the right distance in front of the hook. Some fishermen get the right distance by threading a row of beads on the leader. The beads also keep the crimped sleeve from working its way up into the soft head of a Softhead lure. As for the single hook’s ablility to hang onto a fish, one point seems to be as good as two, so far, says Steve. "We are getting good hookups right in the corner of the mouth," Steve says.

The highly popular purple/black combination can be difficult to see under some lighting conditions. The lack of visibility can be a problem for the deckie who has to place it where he wants it. To make the lure easier to see, some skippers tie a half-dozen strands of pink skirt to the trailing hook so the lure color “pops” against the darker background. When a hooked fish runs hard, the Softhead slides up the leader until it hits the swivel. Hard head lures stop there because the leader sleeve prevents it from going further. Not so with a Softhead. A hard-charging fish sometimes forces the Softhead ™ right up over the sleeve, the snap and the swivel. After that, there is nothing to stop the lure from sliding right back up the line. What happens if a sharp-toothed ono gets curious about the activity and decides to go for the lure. Goodbye fish, hooks, lure, leader, snap, swivel and whatever length of line was out when the ono cut it off.

Best to toothpick the front of the lure on opposite sides of the leader. The thin wooden slivers won’t prevent it from sliding up the leader but will help stop the lure from gobbling up the crimp, snap and swivel. Back to our monthly update: All but a handful of the biggest 200 marlin caught off Kona in the first ten months of the year were caught on trolling lures – not on live or dead bait. As a rule, charterboats seem to be most successful with lures because the faster trolling speed allows them to search more water in less time. The big wakes and big motors add to the attraction, too. The bigger marlin usually pick out the larger lures, which are most frequently towed on the corner lines closest to the boat.

Some thoughts on big game fishing Kona for the Pacific Blue Marlin

By the end of September, the Kona sportfishing fleet had compiled an unmatched record of big-fish catches. During the first nine months of 2007, the Charter Desk scales weighed 84 blue marlin topping 500 pounds. At least another 15 to 20 blues over 500 pounds were weighed elsewhere on club scales or at various fish market buyers. That puts over 100 fish on Kona's “beast list” as proved by actual weights.

The Kona tag-and-release list is even more impressive and perhaps more important because of Kona’s growing interest in conservation and protecting the future of the species and the sport. The Charter Desk documented another 82 blues estimated at 400 pounds or more. (Why did we pick 400? Despite the well-known propensity for fishermen to exaggerate, many skippers low-ball their estimates to make sure they aren’t embarrassed by a recaptured fish that seems to have shrunk during its time at large.) The 82 tag and releases on file at The Charter Desk are also less than the actual number because not all fishermen report their releases. They send the data cards directly through to the two major tagging agencies and bypass local reporting.

Counting boated fish and releases, the Kona fleet had caught well over 200 big marlin in these categories. No other Pacific port can match that blue marlin total. More than likely, no Atlantic port can match it either. All but a handful of the biggest 200 were caught on trolling lures – not on live or dead bait. As a rule, charterboats seem to be most successful with lures because the faster trolling speed allows them to search more water in less time. The big wakes and big motors add to the attraction, too. The bigger marlin usually pick out the larger lures, which are most frequently towed on the corner lines closest to the boat.

Back to current "A Special Look At Hawaii Offshore Fishing: Jim Rizzuto"

View "Archives 1: A Special Look At Hawaii Offshore Fishing: Jim Rizzuto"

View "Archives 3: A Special Look At Hawaii Offshore Fishing: Jim Rizzuto"

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