Archives 3: A Special Look At Hawaii Offshore Fishing: Jim Rizzuto
KONA’S TOP TEN BIG-FISH LURES (As of August 31, 2007. Updated Monthly)
By Jim Rizzuto
Which trolling lures are the most successful for catching big marlin? Fishermen can debate each other all day and never agree on any list. But you can’t argue with the fish. They tell us their choices loud and clear with explosive strikes, screaming reels, and dramatic acrobatic displays. You can’t argue with the brute force of a marlin that has already made up its mind. Each month, we look at the biggest fish caught off Kona up to that point of the year and tell you about the lures they picked. The list includes both the top ten weighed fish and the top ten releases. We include the releases to help promote the growing practice of putting big marlin back. Most Pacific blues over 300 pounds are females and these are the brood stock for future generations of giants. That list will start up in September when we add in the August catches. The list of top ten weighed fish is as accurate as the scales at the Charter Desk scales in Honokohau Harbor. The top ten released fish list is only as accurate as the estimating abilities of the fishermen who stuck the tag and let them go. The release-list also depends on the reporting practices of the fishermen who ply the Kona Coast every day. Some skippers diligently call in their catches so we have them on record. Others just report them directly to the tagging agencies. Still others release their fish without tagging them and are content to come home with the satisfaction of knowing they did it.
LURES PICKED BY KONA’S TOP TEN WEIGHED FISH
1. (1,011) Tim Rupli, Capt. Hector Ubaldo, Legend 2. Mar. 11. (Bomboy Magilla). At this writing, the Legend2 leads the Kona list with a 1,011-pound blue caught on March 11. Visiting angler Tim Rupli fought the fish after Capt Hector Ubaldo and crew Kaui Keoho enticed the monster to the boat with one of the biggest lures you can troll, a Bomboy Llanes Magilla. Depending on how you skirt it, the Magilla can be anywhere from 18 inches to two feet long. Some say it is so big that when you throw the drag lever and the lure bites into the water, you can feel the boat slow down. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but it helps you understand what a big presence this particular peanut makes in the water. Bomboy says he has watched marlin eat aku this size all of his life and thinks the Magilla is a good substitute for a five- or six-pound skipjack tuna. When a billfish goes after a lure that big, the fish may strike the tempter with its bill before trying to swallow it. This marlin just opened its mouth and sucked the big piece of plastic right down. It couldn’t have billed the bait if it had wanted to. The Legend2’s grander had no bill. It lost its defining weapon somewhere back in its early years.
2. (966) Sean McWinney, Capt. Steve Epstein and crew Trace Epstein, Northern Lights. July 30. (Dead aku toss bait). This big bad girl was a wild one, Steve says. Steve and Trace had just caught a 180-pound `ahi, the largest of the week, on a greenstick rig and then put the rig back out again to try for more tuna. Trace spotted a huge billfish following closely behind the boat. He snatched a dead aku out of the cooler, impaled it on a 10/0 hook attached to a 130-class fishing rig and tossed it to the fish. The marlin ignored the aku. Perhaps it was still contemplating the huge disappearing yellowfin tuna and saving room for a real meal. Trace jerked the line to make the aku dash forward, sink down and act appetizing. Nothing worked, but the marlin continued to follow the boat for what seemed like five minutes, Steve said. Eventually, the aku’s annoying behavior bothered the marlin enough for the big fish to swat at the bait as though shooing away a meddlesome fly. The swat snagged the hook outside the mouth and the foul-hooked fish fought for two more hours before coming to the boat too far gone to release.
3. (925) Shane Icari, Capt. Joe Hansen, Ivy J II. June 10. (Marlin Magic Ruckus). This huge marlin topped the 2007 Goodfellow Bros, Inc. Employee Fishing Tournament. Joe hooked it outside Milolii at 8:30 am and Shane Icari fought it to the boat in an hour and 20 minutes using a Penn 130 two-speed reel. After they gaffed it, the gargantuan marlin broke free of the flying gaff and began fighting all over again. "It didn’t like being tickled," Joe said. They got the leader back in another 20 minutes and this time it was all over.
4. (913) Steve Swartz, Capt. Wayne Knight, Playtime. July 5. (Bomboy Magilla). Wayne hooked this woulda-been-a-tournament-winner on a day off between tournaments. It slipped in between Wednesday’s World Cup Blue Marlin Tournament (won by a 728-pound Bermuda catch) and the Friday start of the three-day Maui Jim Skins Tournament. After catching a tuna, Wayne says, “We got set back up again, came back through same spot and a big hole appeared where the short corner lure was. Wayne said "The lure just about dropped off the planet we were on." The Magilla may be a big lure but it was dwarfed by the marlin’s last lunch. When they opened the marlin’s belly at Hawaii Island Seafood, they pulled out a 45-pound albacore.
5. (911.5) Bo Godfrey, Capt. Jason Holtz, Marlin Magic. Aug. 19. (Marlin Magic). Bo’s big blue came on the final day of the Big Island Invitational Marlin Tournament and earned his team $95,650. The big marlin hit a Marlin Magic Pear lure as Jason trolled in 500 fathoms off Pebble Beach (a South Kona landmark). Jason went for an all-out gamble. With a crew including Captain Derrick Knott and Captain Kevin Hibbard, Jason chased the big fish down in 20 minutes and got it secured.
6. (903.5) Dennis, Jared, & Ken Rudolph, Faubio Magana, Capt. Billy Dorr, Sea Baby III. July 13. (Black Moldcraft Softhead). Purple may be the most popular Softhead color off Kona but Billy had no compunction about risking bad luck sticking out a lure as dark as a black cat. Then again, he’s also not afraid of taking bananas on his boat and eats one before every trip. Just as he did the day he caught the 903.5.
7. (888.5) Cynthia Liskey, Scott Kadooka, Alibi 2. Aug. 11. Scott and crew Gilbert Damasco had angler Cynthia Liskey and rod builder Pat Brian aboard the Alibi 2 when the big marlin grabbed a small mahimahi-sized lure (Joe Yee Cracker Jack resin head, scooped face, four jets, 7-inch skirt) as they trolled in 500 fathoms off Honaunau at around 10:00 am. The two-hour fight attracted other curious billfish including a 300 pounder several 150s, all blues. During the final stages, it also drew in a 100-pound striped marlin.
8. (880) Paddy McFall, Capt. Bill Crawford. Chiripa. Aug. 16. In the best big-fish week of the year, visiting football player Paddy McFall headed out for an afternoon half-day fishing trip on the charter boat Chiripa with BC and crew Steve Roney and returned with the year’s 8th biggest weighed fish. "We made our first pass at a spot on the Top Corner of The Grounds and the big thing jumped on a Purple Moldcraft Softhead ™," BC said. The crew worked on the fish for more than 20 minutes to try to revive it for release, but the fish rolled over and died.
9. (846) Rich and Tina Bosela, Capt. Kent Mongreig, Fish Wish. Feb. 12. (Aloha Lures Super Ninja-purple) Alaskans Rich and Tina Bosela caught this one on a purple Super Ninja lure made by Erik Rusnak of Aloha Lures The Super Ninja doesn’t look like a Japanese martial arts champion, but it doesn’t look like any other lure, either. Erik did his best to make an artificial malolo and the billfish seem to approve of this flyingfish imitator. Captain Kent Mongreig put the sassy-looking lure in front of the 846 pounder in the wake of his boat Fish Wish. When the fish hit the lure, his first reaction was "We’ve hooked King Kong." They say apes eat bananas but the only thing this King Kong peeled was a reel full of line. It took the Boselas more than two hours to reel back the peels, bring the fish back to the boat and retrieve their grape-colored Ninja lure.
10. (822) Shane Ferrill, Capt. Kevin Hiney, Bite Me. May 9. (Live aku). According to Kona tradition, the big ones are usually caught on artificial lures. Bait, they say, is what you use when you are willing to settle for the smaller guys. Kevin’s big girl says otherwise.
11. (812) Jim Aprill, Capt. Alan Armstrong, Sea Wife II. May 3. (Bomboy Bullet behind a bird). A good tuna lure is a good marlin lure and vice-versa. When a Kona skipper puts a bullet out on the stinger behind a bird, he is usually trying for `ahi. But he knows that same rig calls billfish in, too. Alan was ready with heavy gear when this big lady pretended she was a tuna.
12. (810) Tom Schumacher, Capt. McGrew Rice, Ihu Nui. May 7. (Metal jet lure). Skipper McGrew Rice and his stalwart crew Carlton Arai are among Kona’s top tuna catchers but the Ihu Nui also has its share of big marlin to its credit. Look back in the wake of the Ihu Nui and you’ll usually see a purple Softhead and a good old-fashioned metal jet lure. Take your pick, says McGrew, and this big one ended up whacking the hard head.
13. (796) Karen Johnston, Capt. Aaron Duncan, Little Spirit. June 16. (live aku). Kona’s skiff fishermen are masters of the art of live-baiting and usually prefer to tow a "livey" all day rather than dragging a bunch of lures. Kona's smooth waters and near-shore big-game grounds are just as conducive to live baiting as to dragging lures. The giant fish on the Little Spirit closes out this month’s top ten as more proof that big marlin eat baitfish, too. (Do I hear a "Duh"?)
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