Kona Hawaii fishing report – July wrap-up.
There are more fishing tournaments in July than any other month in Kona. One of the oldest marlin tournaments in the world, the 5 day Hawaiian International Billfish tournament is going on right now. Last month I was wondering if the big females would show up and they did. Just in time for some fantastic tournament wins. Every July 4th is the World Cup Blue Marlin Championship and it’s a worldwide tournament. This year was the 30th year of the tournament and for most of this tournaments life; Kona has had the most wins of any other place in the world. It was last year when Bermuda took the lead with 8 wins total while Kona stood at 7 wins. The tournament starts at 8:30 AM and ends at 4:30 PM in the time zone that you’re in. Hawaii is the last time zone on the planet so when the tournament has ended everywhere else, we’re still fishing. When it had ended everywhere else, we found out that there were no qualifying marlin caught yet. The minimum weight for a marlin in this tournament is 500 lbs. One boat here in Kona said they had caught one that might make the 500 lb. mark but when they said that they were going to continue fishing instead of coming in right away to weigh it in, we all knew that it would most likely come up short (and it did). More than 6 hours into the tournament and it looked like there wouldn’t be any qualifying marlin caught but, then the good news. Kona weighted in a 597 pounder for the sure win! Right before the tournament ended, another Kona boat hooked and landed a 656 pounder. So here we are again, tied with Bermuda just like we were back in 2007, 2009 and again in 2012. I can hardly wait to see what happens next 4th of July.
July was a really good month for ahi also. An ahi over 200 lbs. is somewhat rare in these waters but there were several caught over the 200 lb. mark this month. The smaller yellowfin tuna, called shibi were also a common catch this month. The otaru tuna disappeared off of The Grounds but have been hanging around the offshore fish farm lately. Bigeye tuna have also been at the farm and also at F buoy. The ono bite was just “fair” even though it’s peak season for them. There have been a few mahi mahi and spearfish caught even though it’s not the season for either of those. It’s not unusual to see any of our pelagic fish caught out of season here.
Sharks continued to be my most common catch while bottom fishing. On many occasions, the fresh caught tuna that I’m using for bait are too big for anything else except a shark. Most fish have to swallow your bait fish whole and with the size of tunas that I’m using for bait, it would take an amberjack or GT over 100 lbs. to eat them. Amberjacks and GT in that size range are fairly rare. Sharks have no problem whittling down a large bait fish one bite at a time but most of the sharks that I hook up have no problem at all taking the bait fish down in just one bite. I sometimes use chunks off of the tuna instead of a whole one but then any little fish with teeth will go after it for a bite and most of the fish that do that don’t even have a mouth big enough to swallow my 12/0 circle hook. If there’s a bunch of small aggressive nibblers around, I can’t even get my bait to the bottom before there’s nothing left but tuna skin on the hook. You might be thinking “how about using a smaller hook” and I’ve done that just to see what kind of nibblers are pecking my bait chunks apart. It’s actually a pretty wide variety of fish. Trigger fish, wrasses, surgeon fish and those awful little blue line snappers that were deliberately brought here Kona by the State but all of those fish are even smaller than the tuna we catch so, no fun in that. I’m of the opinion that the best fish to fight is the one that makes your muscles feel like you’ve been in a fight when you’re done.
See ‘ya on the water soon,
Capt. Jeff Rogers ,
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