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LURE MAKING 101/102. Pacific fishermen have made their own lures since the days when the only lure materials available were shells, bones and boar bristles. Many generations ago, making your own lures made you a fisherman. The “mana” (spirit) you created with your lure determined your fishing success.
For some, that same spirit endures. As modern products have replaced the natural materials of the stone-and-bone age, lure-making has become easier and more accessible to the back-yard craftsman.
I’ve written about lure-making for various publications since 1964. I receive a lot of questions about the process so I have just published the book “Lure-Making 101/102.”
This is a book of history and an homage to the artisans who brought big-game lure-making into the modern age. In showing you the path the great lure makers followed, the pages provide an array of ideas you can use to create and innovate. Indeed, the book is interesting if only for the story of big-game lure-making throughout the last seventy years.
The how-to section begins with simple lures you can make from readily available materials without needing molds of any kind. Then it introduces how to cast lures from “found” molds in the tradition of early lure makers who used bottles, tumblers, and tubes.
After you have created some masters you want to duplicate, the book teaches you how to use RTV (room-temperature vulcanizing) liquid rubber to make sturdy and dependable molds. You can use these molds over and over to make your own lures in the spirit of centuries of master fishermen.
The book is available only directly from me. For information, please email me at Rizzuto@aloha.net.
Copyright Rizzuto 10/03/10
The October Queen K. Tesoro Dirty Dozen, held Saturday, attracted 16 boats of all sizes and paid out $2,850. The purse was divided up equally among the teams catching the largest marlin and mahimahi.
Seven of the teams also participated for points in the Queen K. Tesoro Cup with an expected $10,000 top prize when the popular multi-competition event ends in July.
Team Anxious won the $750 marlin prize with a 437-pound blue. Skipper Neal Isaacs and his crew of Jeff Metzler and Brian Schumaker guided Dave Tubbs to the winning fish just after noon.
Dave, a regular visitor from Texas, has been Neal’s friend for so long it seems like he is “an adopted son,” Neal said. Being in the Isaacs family paid off for Dave shortly after noon as Anxious trolled near the Grounds.
Neal had included two Super Plungers in his spread as teasers and one of them tickled the marlin’s fancy. After playing with the teaser until Neal could reel it out of the way, the marlin turned on a Joe Yee Super Plunger that was armed with two hooks.
Dave got his victory fish to the boat in about 20 minutes, Neal said.
In addition to taking one-fourth of the purse, the marlin also qualified for $720 in optional entry money.
With a seemingly unbeatable 437-pound marlin on the board, perennial winner David Magallanes switched his attention to mahimahi and the tactic paid off.
Aboard his boat Kona Pearl II, Magallanes was towing a pair of live baits when he saw a marlin stalking them, tournament spokesperson Natalie Gustavson said.
David and his crew pulled the baits in to check them, saw they were tuckered out, and switched to a friskier bait. Their lively newcomer didn’t impress the marlin but it was just right for a 32.5-pound mahimahi.
The winning mahimahi gave Dave his first points in defense of the Queen K. Cup, which he won last year.
Team Makana Lani got its hopes up when the Kona Pearl II called their mahimahi in as about 25 pounds.
Capt. Kenny Fogarty and his crew had caught the first fish of the day, an ono they estimated as about the same weight as David’s “25-pound” mahimahi.
The ono had been a reversal of fortune compared to their experience in the previous DD. They caught ono big enough for a payday in that event, but they had hooked it immediately after the “stop fishing” call.
“We thought we had an outside chance,” team member Gary Robb said.
As they approached the Bite Me weigh scales, they could see David standing next to his fish, Gary said.
“The mahimahi was almost as tall as David,” Gary said. “So we knew our ono fell short.”
Because ono, mahimahi and ahi are all counted together for half the prize, they didn’t bother weighing it.
THE MANY FORMS OF PMS. Boats are often named after women and usually referred to as “she,” but that’s not why boaters worry about PMS each time their lady is scheduled for dry-dock. Their concerns begin with Pre-Maintenance Stress and end, they hope, with Post-Maintenance Success.
Capts. Robert and Cyndee Hudson hauled their charterboat Camelot out for a seven-day refurbishing and had to push hard to get the job done in time for a scheduled charter on Day Eight. In the present economy you don’t miss any chances, Robert told me, so they worked into the night to have Camelot ready for her date.
They were energized by the hope of the strange phenomenon known as post-drydock luck. Fishermen often report great catches after they’ve spanked their hulls into spanking-new condition.
“When you do a major amount of work like we did, you get rewarded,” Robert said with his fingers crossed.
Lady Luck didn’t wait long to deliver. Two hours into the charter, they were on the notch in the 1,000-fathom line off the harbor. Their Post-Maintenance-Success story began when a big momma marlin came up behind the purple miniature Softhead on the stinger and took it down.
They battled the fish for the next two hours and twenty minutes on 80-pound gear. They got it close enough to estimate its weight at over 600 pounds, their biggest marlin in a while. Whenever they got the double line back on the reel, the angler advanced the drag for more lifting strength but had to relent to keep the leader from breaking. Crew Mark Schubert grabbed the leader several times but the fish kept digging and digging.
Something had to give. In this case, it was the small 9/0 stainless steel hook. It gradually open up and released the lucky marlin.
Their Post-Maintenance-Success story ended because of PMS (the pliable metal stretched).
AVERAGE NUMBER OF MARLIN BITES PER DAY? It’s a question I get a lot from people who are planning a big-game fishing trip to Kona – or anywhere else, for that matter. In an average day, how many chances do you get to catch a blue marlin?
I have a ready answer. There is no such thing as an average day of marlin fishing.
I suspect Kona gal Lorelle Carter might answer it differently.
She sent me her notes on an “average” fishing trip she took aboard Eagles’ Nest with Sandy Contessa.
Edited for length, here is how her day went.
Soon after Eagle’s Nest passed the green buoy at the entrance to Honokohau Harbor, “the line went singing out – what a lovely melody,” Lorelle said.
Before they could reel the other lines in a marlin jumped behind them.
Their 400-pound (at least) blue “literally flew up into the air, and smacked down on the starboard lure,” Lorelle said. “That lure pulled the other lure and hook right out!”
Depending on how you look at it, maybe you can count that as either one or two strikes but no fish.
“It was still a marvelous sight and a great way to start the day!” Lorelle said.
“ We trolled down to Red Hill where we hooked up again and I fought valiantly for about 15 minutes, then lost the fight,” Lorelle said. “The fish is still out there for another day!”
Again, we are at two (or three) strikes and no fish.
Time to stop fishing, take a quick dip to cool off on a hot day, and get back to fishing.
Now straight out from Kealakekua Bay, they resumed their average day.
“All of a sudden (that's how it happens right?), both lines went off within a millisecond of each other,” Lorelle said. “I had a double marlin hookup!”
With only two on the boat, Lorelle said Sandy drove while she “tackled (ha, ha, ha) the job of bringing both fish to the boat.”
Lorelle said she left one long line out and that fish kept jumping while she reeled in the first fish. With that one secured, she went back after the second and got that one.
Then it was back to the dock to weigh and photograph her with her 147.5- and 137.5-pounds.
“Talk about an absolutely great day! “ Lorelle said.
I now have this in my cut and paste album to use to answer future “average day” questions.
All except the weights. We only catch granders here and we release them all. That way, we know their granders.
Copyright Rizzuto 09/20/10
The fishing year is a month out of phase and we are now seeing the great marlin fishing of a typical August. The last time it was August in September was the next-to-last time Capt. Scott Fuller caught a 900-pound blue marlin. That was 2001 so it took nine years for the nines to line up again for “Scooter.” He boated a 953.5-pounder last week nine years later in the ninth month.
On Tuesday, “Scooter” and crew Brian Schumaker had some customers from Santiago, Chile aboard Tara II for a very eventful troll along the 500-fathom line south of town.
At about 9:00 am, just after the tide change, they were off “The Caves,” a landmark just south of Keauhou where their big fish was waiting. It came up behind a small lure riding the stinger line far back in the wake. The husky blue tossed it aside like a toy, slapped the short-rigger lure, and flailed at the red-skirted “Lunger” lure on the long corner line.
This time the hooks weren’t so easily avoided. They wrapped around the base of the marlin’s bill. The points penetrated nothing, but the scissoring action of the tandem-hook rig was enough to hold onto the marlin until angler Jaime Puyol got the leader within Brian’s reach.
It was Jaime’s first fishing trip and first fish. Despite his inexperience and language difficulties (some words best lost in translation), Jaime bested the fish in the relatively quick time of 40 minutes.
“We put a tag in it, freed the hooks from the bill and watched it swim away,” Scooter said. “We prefer to release all of our fish, but this one swam down, then back up and rolled over. We did the gallant thing and tried to revive her but it was no use.”
As a release, Scooter said they had guessed its weight at 750 pounds – about 200 pounds less than its true weight.
Four days later, Scooter crewed for Capt. Bruce Herren on the boat Raven and watched the same fish-fight happen in reverse.
“We had released a 150 pound blue earlier in the morning and were just trolling along the line on our way back to home,” Bruce said.
This time the marlin came up on a lure close to the boat, dropped it, swam back and hooked itself on the stinger lure.
“When we saw the big head and huge bill come out of the water, Scooter and I looked at each other and said ‘This is the real deal,’” Bruce said.
Bruce’s wife Carol, an experienced angler, was still fresh for a second fight. She got this one to the boat in about 35 minutes.
This time, they were able to tag and release it successfully.
It swam off in good condition after they had guessed its weight at 750 pounds.
Hmmm- estimated at 750. Given the 750 estimate for the 953.5-pounder, perhaps this was really Scooter’s third September 900-pounder
NINE YEARS AGO IN SEPTEMBER. On a personal note, I had a particularly difficult time writing the lead for this week’s column. My wife and I spent September 2001 in New York baby-sitting our grandchildren. Back then, I interviewed Scooter about his 968.5-pounder from New York and emailed the story to WHT on September 9.
It appeared in this column on Monday, September 10. The following morning, Shirley and I got up early and took the grandkids to school. Our plan for the rest of the day was to go to the World Trade Center to get show tickets at the half-price booth in the lobby of the east tower and then catch a Broadway matinee.
Before we could get on the subway, our son-in-law called from his car on the Brooklyn Bridge. He told us that a low-flying plane had just passed over his head and crashed in Lower Manhattan. He sent us back to school to get the kids and bring them home. With the dust and smoke billowing in the air, we watched the second plane hit in real time.
The story of Scooter's 968.5 in 2001 might very well have been my last story.
THE LUCK OF THE SCHUMAKERS. While Brian Schumaker was having a great day with the 900-pounder on Tara II, his brother Joe was also having a stellar fishing adventure as crew on the Golden Dragon with Capt. Will Lazenby.
Will had repeat-customer Ron Gilson of Boston, Mass, aboard for a trip that started promisingly with a 23-pound ono.
Will trolled all the way to OTEC-buoy in search of something bigger but had to settle for a few of the small bait fish hanging around the FAD.
After nothing came to the baits, he headed south and ran into a pod of dolphins north of The Grounds.” On his first pass through, he hooked a 106.5 pound `ahi for Ron. That made it two of Kona’s four most-prized flag fish.
Maybe they had a shot at a four-flag-fish sweep, especially because the marlin bite had been good for most of the week.
As they trolled across the 1500-fathom line outside the Grounds, a 200-pound marlin took a lure and fulfilled their third wish.
They tagged and released the marlin and set out to find a mahimahi.
“We trolled from the Grounds all the way down to F-buoy looking for that mahimahi,” Will said. “At F-buoy, we found an obliging 20-pound mahimahi sitting there waiting for us.”
While celebrating their four-flag-fish sweep, they also caught a 19.5-pound skipjack tuna, which might have given them a five flag-fish sweep if it were a flag-fish and if there were such a thing as a five-flag-fish sweep.
Later in the week, Joe crewed for Capt. Kevin Hibbard on JR’s Hooker and got to leader a 488-pound blue first thing in the morning.
Brian told me the story so we’ll have to end with a final comment from him.
“We took the Integrity our on Wednesday, missed two blues and got four ono, which is what the charter/owner really wanted anyway,” Brian said.
That, of course, is the definition of job security – give the boss what he wants.
GIANT ULUA FROM A KAYAK. On April 1 when Chris Kutsch caught a 99.5-pound ulua from a kayak, we thought it had to be an April Fool’s joke. When it turned out to be true, we figured it was a feat that could never be outdone.
The last week veteran kayaker Devin Hallingstad pulled up a 102.5-pounder from a kayak.
His secret to hooking his “giant trevally” was to send a live opelu down deep in 50 fathoms at an ulua hole near Milolii. His secret to successfully fighting the deep-pulling fish without turning over was to equip his kayak with a pair of ama.
Acting as outriggers, the ama helped stabilize the slender craft during the half-hour fight as he gradually worked the burly fish up on 80-pound test nylon monofilament. Because we interviewed Devin to verify the details, and got both a photo and certified weight, it went on our big-Fish List as the top contender for the year to date.
Using a 6/0 Penn Senator reel on a stand-up rod, Devin is outfitted like a big-game fisherman.
Shoreline fishermen also use modified trolling reels when they cast for giant ulua.
Last week, shore-caster Bart Wilcox landed an enormous 121.5-pound ulua from shore and had it weighed and photographed at the charter desk. Bart’s fish is not yet on the Big-Fish List because we have not yet been able to verify the details.
Catching an ulua from shore is considered the greater feat because the angler has to fight the fish in without losing it in the rocks and surf.
On the other hand, having your feet planted firmly on the ground is its own advantage.
Equipping a kayak with ama (outriggers) improves the odds. But it does raise the question of whether a kayak with outriggers is still a kayak or is it an outrigger canoe? For our purposes, it doesn’t matter and catching a big fish from a paddle-powered boat is still a major accomplishment.
NMFS HOSTS ANOTHER CHARTER CAPTAIN MEETING. NOAA Fisheries Service has scheduled a second “Let’s Talk” session with charter fishing captains who were unable to attend last Tuesday. The next event is set for 5:00 pm on Monday September 27th at the Hawaii Big-Game Fishing Club clubhouse in Honokohau Harbor.
The event sponsors want to air issues and get input from the charter fleet.
The most controversial issue on the horizon is legislation making it illegal to buy or sell billfish within the United States. The bill, HR 5804, was written by the IGFA and the NCMC.
Copyright Rizzuto 36 09/06/10
Fishermen take their luck where they find it, and it usually comes in unusual ways.
Dante Loehnberg is co-captain and first mate on the Fairwinds along with Captain Mitch Stauffer. A few weeks ago, Dante spotted a bright orange “teaser” bird bobbing up and down on the sea surface and went to investigate it.
By “bird,” we aren’t talking about the kind of feathered creatures that fly, squawk, and deposit personal gifts on your head. This bird is a winged fishing device that flutters across the surface ahead of a fishing lure in the hopes it will attract a curious fish. The gift in this fishing teaser would come later as part of a 20th birthday celebration for Chaz Adams of Waikoloa.
Chaz and his family joined about 100 other guests aboard the Fairwinds for one of the big-boat’s daily runs down along the coast for sightseeing and snorkeling. Equipped for fishing fun with an assortment of Penn 50 reels, the big party boat regularly catches ono and mahimahi as it cruises the 50-fathom line on its way to Kealakekua Bay.
Dante attached his new-found teaser, switched out the trailing lure for a small jet with blue, black and silver skirts, and set it out behind the Fairwinds on one of the 50s.
Despite a few striped marlin bites recently, the Fairwinds hasn’t caught a billfish in 2010, but that’s no surprise given the near-shore strip of water they ply. In fact, the true surprise showed up when a billfish of some sort slapped at the lure behind the bird. Even more surprisingly, the excited gamefish actually hooked itself and ran off jumping. With an audience of 100 partiers applauding the fish’s every leap, Chaz gradually reeled it to the boat for an even bigger surprise. Their billfish was a 49-pound sailfish.
Mitch says they thought it was a striped marlin or spearfish at first because it had not unfurled its enormous sail until they had it to the boat.
Sailfish are rare here, even though the summer months are best and the 50-fathom ledge is their most frequent hunting grounds.
A young man’s 20th birthday is memorable anyway but Chaz’s is more noteworthy because of the rare catch and the story behind the rescued bird.
It’s a good thing for Chaz that Dante found the bird. Not only did it do its job, but “the price was right,” Mitch said.
ONLY IN KONA. A fisherman can travel the world and not find what he can find off the Kona Coast.
Walter Keinath, owner of the Kona charterboat Five Star, spent several months of this year on extended marlin fishing expeditions throughout the South Pacific. During all of that time and in all of those places, he caught just one marlin.
He returned to Kona, his “fishing home,” and hit the mother lode (big marlin being females, of course).
Back aboard the Five Star with Capt. Carlton Taniyama and a crew of Tracy Epstein and Russell Tanaka, Keinath and his fishing partners hooked and released a 625-pound blue, two 600-pound blues, and a 500-pounder along with three smaller marlin.
What’s more, they hooked a marlin Carlton estimated at 800- to 900-pounds for Five Star angler Mark Madden but lost it after a tough fight.
That’s quite a welcome-home party. Though it wasn’t Warren’s birthday, he has figured out a way to extend “birthday luck” throughout the year. Last year, lure-maker Joe Yee gave him a pair of custom-made baits inscribed with “Happy 50th Birthday Warren Keinath.” He caught two of last week’s big ones on the specially gifted lures.
All of the action was down south off Milolii, Carlton said. The current was pushing south-and-in all week, Carlton said, which made the Milolii ledges particularly productive.
Few other boats made it down there so Five-Star had the fishing pretty much to themselves. They left just after dawn, raced down to Hookena and started trolling south from there.
Indeed, that really was as far south in the Pacific as Warren had to go to satisfy his 2010 quest for billfish action.
September Queen K. Tesoro Dirty Dozen Pays out $3,520
Twenty boats entered the September Queen K. Tesoro Dirty Dozen Tournament. Nine of them also participated in the Queen K Tesoro Cup, an annual competition. . All participants had the opportunity to win a $3,520.00 purse, tournament spokesperson Natalie Gustavson said.
The morning started off with a bang! Natalie said. Within minutes of the start, Team Hei Mana hooked up. Hei Mana captain Gary Sheehan was setting his lures when he watched the Pacific Lady hook up, right in front of him. Sheehan made a turn into the inside of the Pacific Lady and got hit. Momi Sheehan reeled in a 29.5-pound ono to win $950 for the largest ono caught in the event.
Hei Mana also entered the $50 optionals, which paid out an additional $250. His catch was also worth 205 points towards the Queen K Tesoro Cup. Team Bite Me 2 caught a 244.5-pound blue to win the billfish category.
Capt. Brian Wargo and his crew hooked up down south off of First Flow, Natalie said. Angler John Bowers boated his winning billfish in just 10 minutes. The Bite Me 2 won $950 plus the additional $810 in optionals.
Two non-qualifying mahimahi (too small) were also caught.
And the hard-luck story of the event (besides the tales of the teams that didn’t catch anything): two minutes after the stop-fishing signal, Team Makana Lani hooked a 30-pound ono too late to qualify.
NEW SNAPPER LEADERS The bottom-fishing season for the “deep-seven” snappers and groupers opened up on September 1 and Kona’s best deep-droppers wasted no time tearing up the Big-Fish List.
On Rod Bender, Kerwin Masunaga, his daughter Heather, and crew Sean Bebeau boated a dozen onaga up to 19 pounds. The 19-pounder takes over the Big-Fish List lead from a 13-pounder Heather caught in April just before the season closed.
The Masunagas caught their long-tailed snappers during the daytime on baits sent very deep (over 125 fathoms) with a pouch of chum.
Everett Araki fished an overnighter with Kevin Shiraki and boated a 13.5-pound opakapaka. Their pretty pink ‘paka filled a vacancy in the Big-Fish list.
TAGGED ULUA TRAVELS 100 MILES. At the end of July, Denis Golden boated a red-tagged 17-pound ulua while fishing outside Kawaihae Harbor. Denis called the tag number into the Division of Aquatic Resources Ulua-Tagging Program and learned that he had caught a long-distance traveler.
The ulua was caught on May 30 by a shoreline angler entered in the S. Tokanaga Store Ulua Challenge.
“This means it swam around South Point and all the way to Kawaihae in just two months,” Denis said. “That’s a good 100 miles.”
Obviously, after its first taste of a hook, the ulua split for parts unknown. It must have thought it was safe even when it saw the little live uku Denis was using for bait.
Copyright Rizzuto 08/23/10
It’s amazing how much smarter fishermen have gotten in just one month. During the third week of July – that’s a month ago – nobody knew how to catch a fish. That week, the Kona fleet recorded one blue marlin weighing more than 500 pounds and a handful of tagged blues.
A mood of pessimism settled in with many wondering whether good Kona marlin fishing was over forever.
Last week, the Kona fleet weighed six marlin over 500 pounds and reported two releases of 525-pounders and another of 800 pounds among a total of over 50 blue marlin releases.
It can’t be a change in the moon or tides. With dates about a month apart, you are fishing the same lunar cycle. What’s more, comparable days of the lunar cycle have comparable tides.
It’s all about the reality of Kona fishing. Currents change as our lee eddies form and break away, sea temperatures change as new masses of water wash through the Central Pacific, and those new masses bring new populations of fish.
The great fishing we are experiencing in August is what we often see in July, so this year the fish are operating on “Hawaiian Time” – just a little bit late.
And, really now, none of us believe fishermen have actually gotten any smarter.
Albert Einstein once defined “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.
We call that “fishing.”
As this month demonstrates, “insanity” works well for us.
BIMT GAMBLES AND WINS. Jody Bright, Director of the Big Island Marlin Tournament, scheduled the event for mid-August and won. Of the 23 teams entered, 18 caught or tagged a marlin. With the multiple-entry-level format, nine of the 23 boats won some amount of money from a total purse of $136,590.
“Based on the way the summer was shaping up, we expected a late season,” Jody said. “We were glad to see the fish show up in August as we hoped for.”
Some anglers had bigger battles than just fighting fish.
Gary Lambert of Team Integrity caught the second-place marlin after being away on the mainland for a year fighting brain cancer.
“This is huge for all of us who know him, and especially his teammates,” Jody said.
Gary scored 513.5 points with a 513.5-pound catch to win $15,550 for Team Integrity.
Capt. Chip Van Mols and his team on the boat Monkey Biz snapped a drive shaft, dropped their propeller to the bottom in 1,000 fathoms and had to return to port to switch to the boat Marlin Grando.
“It seems like the change in ‘vibe’ worked out right,” Jody said.
Angler Randy Weih scored 766.5 points with a 566.5-pound catch and a 200 point release to win $84, 240.
On Sundowner, Mike Benacquistea scored 613 points with the third biggest marlin of the event to pocket $12,060.
Team Topshape overcame a late start on the first day to pile up points with three blues and a spearfish, all tagged, skipper Al Gustavson said.
They lost a marlin in rough seas on the Middle Grounds and then headed for more fishable water. They found their lucky spot on the advice of Al’s wife and lucky angler.
“Suzanne told us that if we didn’t leave the rough water soon, we weren’t getting lunch,” Al said. “Knowing how important Suzanne’s lunches are to the attitude of the team, I immediately turned South.”
They found their lucky spot off VV-Buoy, stayed in a one-mile square (that’s about 8 to 10 minutes of trolling in each direction) and caught all four of their billfish.
Marlin Grando’s big fish sneaked past them for most total points of day one. For the next two days, Topsape started on time but caught nothing and ended up out of the money.
“We should have stayed in bed longer,” Al said.
After the slow July start to the 2010 summer blue marlin run, Jody is gambling on an even later season by creating a new “September Challenge” Tournament for September 17, 18 and 19. To get this one on the right course, he has enlisted the help of a team of successful and experienced skippers. His new Skipper’s Committee includes Jason Holtz, Teddy Hoogs, Kevin Hibbard, McGrew Rice, Carlton Taniyama, Robbie Brown, and Fran O'Brien.
Copyright Rizzuto 09/27/10
The ulua now atop our Big-Fish List is the biggest we’ve had in the 20 years I’ve been keeping track. The best part for surf-casting fans is that angler Bart Wilcox caught the 121.5-pound giant trevally from shore.
A shore-fishing catch means everything to ulua purists. In fact, Hawaii Fishing News only counts shore catches – not boat catches-- in the HFN “Century Club,” for ulua over 100 pounds.
Bart caught his title contender from a rocky promontory near Pebble Beach. He and some friends had camped at the spot for two days with their lines out all night in hopes of taking advantage of the ulua’s well-known nocturnal feeding habits.
This ulua couldn’t wait for dark, however. It took Bart’s live bait just before sunset.
Bart had lured it to the hook with a nenue, caught by fishing friend Ann Tavares.
“I couldn’t catch a live bait myself to save my life,” Bart said.
Ann had the magic touch and transferred the luck along with the bait. After Bart attached the slide-buckle for his rig to his line and slid it down to the water, the bait never goy all the way down before the ulua took it.
The big fish just jiggled the rod tip at first because the rig was not yet tight against the stop at the end of the line. After it felt the resistance of the weight hooked in the coral bottom, the ulua took off at full strength and emptied several hundred yards of line from Bart’s reel.
A shoreline fight with a big ulua can sometimes last forever, especially because the line often snags in the coral and you might have to wait for the fish to free itself from the rocks.
Not this time. Bart was able to avoid all the rocks and rubs to get the fish to dry land in just about a half hour.
Bart knew he could count on his gear because he had put it together himself. He made the rod from a Kilwell blank using the Hilo-style spring guides preferred by the best Big-Island ulua fishermen. He had chosen a Newell 550 reel because of its fast-retrieve ratio and had filled it with 60-pound test line finished off with a top-shot of 80. The 60 gave him more line capacity and the 80 more abrasion resistance where needed. He had carefully joined the two sections with a strong and reliable “nail” knot, which he checked regularly.
With that kind of attention to detail, you knew this wasn’t his first time to test tackle against a big ulua.
About a decade ago, Bart had caught another century-club contender. Back then, he had done everything right except get his fish weighed on a certified scale.
No such problem this time. Bart brought the fish to the Fuel Dock in Honokohau harbor to be weighed and photographed. They were happy to accommodate this outstanding shoreline catch, even though their business is all about fishing from boats!
PREPARATION PLUS OPPORTUNITY ADDS UP TO LUCK. Before he retired from chartering, I used to fish a lot with Capt. Freddy “The Philosopher” Rice. I call him that because he filled the conversation with theories and quotes consistent with his ivy-league college education.
My favorite was a pearl from the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
Undoubtedly, Freddy’s grandson Capt. Oskie Rice has heard that and thousands of other words of wisdom over the years.
Fortunately, that hasn’t prevented him from catching fish, as happened on a recent not-so-well-prepared fishing adventure.
Oskie runs the classic boat Lady, which has been in dry dock for the last five months undergoing thorough refurbishing. After putting it back in the water a week or so ago, Oskie decided to take it offshore just to run the engines.
With no tackle aboard, he borrowed some rods, reels and lures from his dad, Capt. McGrew Rice. McGrew’s boat Ihu Nui was also in the yard for work so the gear was lying around looking forlorn.
Oskie took friends Bronson Cablay and Reese Anderson along for company. They started late, around noon, but by the time they had reached Red Hill near Keauhou, they were satisfied the engines were doing fine despite idling for five months.
They tossed out some teasers, added a few lines with hooks and headed further south looking for opportunities.
When they reached Hookena, up popped the largest marlin recorded here last week.
The 700-pound blue smacked a hookless teaser around a few times and hung around long enough to take a liking to a pink jet armed with a hook.
Reese got the fish to Bronson in about a half hour.
With a 700-pound estimate at release, it would have weighed more than all others weighed or released here last week.
Apparently their last-minute, hastily-assembled fishing trip was preparation enough.
I won’t pretend to be wiser than either my modern philosopher/friend or my ancient Roman goomba, but after 71 years of living and 40 years of teaching school, I would amend the words of the immortal philosopher.
The fact is, preparation creates opportunity.
WHAT BLACKS ARE TELLING US. This year’s “run” of black marlin may be telling us something about marlin fishing in general, but I can only guess what that might be.
Blacks are unusual here. At the best of times, the fleet reports a few a month – perhaps 20 or 30 a year.
For all of this year, we have only seen three blacks for sure.
The matter comes up courtesy of Bronson Cablay, one of the heroes of the previous story. Last week, he landed a 249-pounder from his boat Lady Pamela to take over the black marlin lead on our Big-Fish List.
He caught it on the Grounds in about 130 fathoms using a live-bait and brought it to the boat in a half-hour on 130-pound tackle. Even though he has fished here all of his life, that’s his first black marlin ever.
So far, the circumstances are typical for a black marlin catch. Live bait rather than lures. Relatively shallow water on The Grounds.
With more people trolling around with lures out in 500 to 1,000 pounds, maybe the rarer catches are the natural result of being ignored.
On the other hand, lots of the “black marlin” reports we get in a typical year turn out to be miss-identified blues. If you leave a blue marlin in the boat for a while, the skin turns black, which makes it a “black” marlin but not a “black marlin.”
Maybe past reports of more blacks in other years have just been mistakes.
Or maybe there is a third explanation. This has been an unusual year for marlin fishing as a whole with blues and striped marlin turning up off calendar and, in some instances, not at all.
The sample size is far too small to draw any conclusions but as they say in competitive sports of all kinds, wait until next year.
TART SIRS UP A FAMILY FEUD. Ken Corday, producer of the daytime drama “Days of Our Lives,” sponsored his annual Kona Tag and Release Tourney (TART for short) for the 20th year last week.
The script for the event included a twist that might have come right out of a soap opera.
Fishing with teams that rotated throughout the week aboard his boat Ihu Nui, defending champion Capt. McGrew Rice took the lead and held it through out much of the event.
When all was said and one, however, McGrew and his crew, Carlton Arai, had to hand the perpetual trophy over to Capt. Kevin Nakamaru, skipper of Northern Lights.
“They spanked us in the end,” McGrew said (pun intended, or perhaps not).
And the twist?
McGrew’s son Capt. Oskie Rice crewed on Northern Lights for the winners.
With a nod to the skills of the father-and-son skippers, Kevin summed it up with “Fortunately, we split them up.”
OCTOBER DD-DAY SATURDAY. The October running of the monthly Queen K. Tesoro Dirty Dozen Fishing Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, October 2. The main entry fee is $100 per team but the event now has optional entries that could double the winnings for those who participate. Whether you are a pro at catching billfish, ahi, mahimahi or ono, you’ll find a slot that rewards yours specialty.
The November Dirty Dozen will be run in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Tournament sponsored by Pacific Rim Fishing supplies in Honokohau Harbor.
Capt. Al Gustavson of Queen K. Tesoro says the two-day Wounded Warrior tourney will be a sponsored Queen K. Cup event.
Dave Zeoli of Pacific Rim says it is an official Wounded Warrior event to assist inure veterans of the Gulf wars, and is listed on their website, www.woundedwarriorproject.org. Dave says the tournament has also attracted participants from the Mainland,
BLUES IN THE NIGHT. When you fish ika-shibi style offshore overnight, you expect to catch ika (squid), shibi (assorted tunas), broadbill swordfish, mako, thresher sharks, and even occasionally some prehistoric-looking creatures of the deep dark sea.
But never a blue marlin.
Never, because blue marlin don’t feed at night. If you believe that, you’ll need to revise your thinking just a little bit because of an overnight adventure on Miss Mojo last Wednesday.
Capt. Tio Kearny, crew Mike Nesbitt and angler Brian Dellava headed south in the afternoon for a round-the-clock charter. On the troll down south, they guaranteed the success of the trip by hooking a 500-pound blue marlin during the afternoon hours when blues are always open for business.
Keeping the big fish was not an option. What are you going to do with a 500-pound marlin on deck all night and all day?
Off “First Flow,” a south Kona landmark, they set up in 700 fathoms to drift for the night. Out went the chute to act as a sea anchor. On with the lights to attract squid and down with the palu to give the big fish a smell of what they might find in the light.
The squid came in packs so they were able to catch them and bait with live squid all night.
The shibi weren’t impressed. No tuna came to the hooks. At around midnight, a mako shark stole their bait and then came back later to get the hook.
After an aggressive fight, the mako ended up on ice. Its steaks are as tasty as swordfish and a welcome substitute.
The sky was dark and overcast, the seas were calm, the current slack, and the wind nonexistent, so they were able to pull up the chute and fish with no cumbersome sea anchor.
That proved to be very useful later on at 4:00 am when they got a surprising strike on their deep bait. Down 25 fathoms at the edge of glow of their nightlight, something took the live squid and immediately headed for the surface.
When the anglers heard the fish splash in the distance, they thought they had hooked a swordfish at first. Swordfish mouths have softer tissue, so they took their time working on it using minimal pressure so the hook would not tear free.
Because they didn’t have a sea anchor to fuss with, they were able to maneuver close. When a lit up blue marlin swam into the lights, they were electrified.
They boated the blue and brought it back to port, partly to make sure they weren’t dreaming and mostly because others might not have believed their very, very rare luck.
After doing a quick round-up of other night fishermen, I found a few who could remember catching a night-feeding blue at some indeterminate time long ago in the past.
Veteran fisherman Kaiwi Joe Thrasher, who was also ika-shibi fishing last week, says he caught a blue of similar size at around 1:00 am about this time last year.
Kaiwi Joe had just weighed a 630-pound marlin (the biggest caught here last week) when we discussed the Miss Mojo catch.
No, he did not catch his 630 at night even though he caught it on an ika-shibi fishing trip.
In just the reverse of the Miss Mojo experience, Kaiwi Joe and fishing buddy Kekuanoa Hind boated their fish during the daytime while trolling back from their overnight adventure.
They had hoped to release it but the fish died after pulling their 22-foot boat around for a while and getting tail-wrapped.
Blue marlin at night? You can never say “never.” Just say it happens once in a blue-marlin moon.
TEN-TO-ONE TWICE FOR JAN MARTIC. The odds against making a ten-to-one marlin catch are much greater than ten-to-one but Jan Martic of Berkeley, California did it twice last week.
Jan is a veteran light-tackle angler with many great catches to her credit. Last week she fished on Ihu Nui with Capts. McGrew Rice and Carlton Arai and logged two more.
First she caught a 300-pound blue on 30-pound-class line and then a 550-pounder on 50 line.
Both fish were released so we’ll have to go with guessed weights.
Jan likes to have the option of matching the tackle to the fish.
To do that, McGrew tows hookless teasers to raise marlin and get them excited. After they hve sized up the potential, Jan picks a suitable outfit, dorps a bait or lure back and switches the fish over from the teaser to the hook.
Jan fed the 300-pounder a dead aku, which it wolfed down immediately. She fought it to the baot in just over 10 minutes because baited fish often give up more quickly.
Jan chose the 50 pound outfit for the 550, but this time she dropped back a small Softhead lure with a hook.
Blues are less likely to swallow a lure than a bait, which makes the fight longer but the release easier and safer for the fish.
SEA STRIKE FILLS SWORDFISH SLOT. Jack Leverone, Capt. Dale’s young son, loves swordfish. Dale says that Jack has made him watch the Perfect Storm – a movie featuring a swordfishing fleet -- 30 weeks in a row.
So it is some kind of karma that Dale’s boat Sea Strike just filled the swordfish vacancy on our Big-Fish List with a 126.5-pound broadbill.
Dale had friends Syd Kraul and Capt. Mark Schubert along for the overnight odyssey.
As their name suggests, the swordfish weilds a very dangerous weapon when you are trying to control it at boatisde. Conk it on the head and cross its eyes, but before you parry its thrusts.
“We caught the fish very quickly and it seems like he hit us with his bill as many times as we hit him with the bat,” Dale said. “But he is on the menu, not us.”
So far in this column we’ve reported on ika-shibi catches of mako sharks, blue marlin, and this broadbill swordfish.
Is anyone actually catching tuna – the main target fish - at night?
On an overnigher aboard Terminator last week, Rusty Culp and Pono and Scott Kadooka caught a pair of yellowfins weighing 165- and 203.5-pounds.
But you really can’t count the 203.5-punder as a night-time catch. It hit the ika-shibi line at about 6:00 am when it was already light.
“People have always told me about the dawn tuna bite but it never happens for me,” Scott said.
The 203-pounder said “Never say never.”
PAYBACK FOR CAMELOT. Robert and Cyndee Hudson, skippers of Camelot, spend a few months of each year in Farmerville, Louisiana, where they fish Lake d’Arbonne with their friend Patrick Harrell as guide.
This year, Pat put them on a Lake d’Arbonne “sweep.” That’s a bass, catfish and two kinds of bream.
“All in one afternoon!” Robert said.
After such a noteworthy accomplishment, Robert told Pat that it was his turn to return the favor. If Pat and his wife Sally came to Kona the Hudsons would put him on a marlin.
Robert says he brought along his “celebrity deckhand” Cyndee for good luck.
With Cyndee aboard, Camelot has caught a grander, several 900 pounders, and some eights and sevens, too, Robert said.
So the Harrells went out with the Hudsons last Friday and Robert put Pat on a 537-pound blue marlin.
“He fought it for an hour with 40 pounds of drag and the fish just about killed him,” Robert said.
Pat’s a scratch golfer and was scheduled to play a few rounds the next day, Robert said. But he was just too sore.
But he could probably have handled a bass, a catfish and several kinds of bream.
Copyright Rizzuto 08/30/10
At last, we have an albacore to fill the vacant spot on the Big-Fish List. The 57-pound longfin tuna came up on a wild night of fishing for Tyler Roy, Jason Hurst, and Ray McLaughlin.
The three friends were ika-shibi fishing overnight on Jason’s 20-foot-skiff Madi-Ry. They deployed their parachute as a sea anchor to control the drift, set up their lights to attract squid (ika), and waited for the tuna (shibi) to bite.
Their lights aggregated plenty of squid and opelu, as expected, but it also drew a lot of unexpected interest from a pod of dolphins.
“The porpoise showed up and wrangled all of the squid and opelu,” Jason said. “We’d never seen anything like it at night. They swam around the boat slapping their tails and hammering the squid and opelu under the boat.”
At times the dolphins rushed right up to the boat, Jason said.
“They were on fire,” Jason said. “We were really stoked even though we hadn’t caught a fish. We figured that with all of the porpoise activity there had to be tuna around.”
The first verification came at around 11:30 pm when a 113-pound ahi took one of their fresh squid. They were fishing San Diego-style with a stand-up Penn 50 outfit and the 80-pound-test line straight to the hook with no leader.
“We just put the rod butt into the holster on our hip and go,” Jason said.
After they boated the yellowfin tuna, they had only another hour to wait until the albacore showed up. The new list-leader also grabbed a fresh squid but this one was on a weighted line with a 200-pound test fluorocarbon leader.
Tyler fought the albacore to the boat and that catch ended their overnight action.
While trolling home, they picked up several ono to complete an entertaining and productive night of Kona fishing a la California.
Jason said their good luck had come from hooking up with Ray.
“He is a big-time tuna fisherman out of San Diego and has helped us on all of our trips this season,” Jason said.
For those of you taking notes, the action happened on a full-moon night with plenty of light. Bright nights are not supposed to be good for ika-shibi fishing – but they certainly seem to light up the night for dolphins to come out and play.
ONO IN THE NEWS. The ono is the near-perfect gamefish for small boaters. It hits hard, races off at high-speed, sports a handsome coat of vivid bars, fits in a fish box (most of the time), and serves up well on the dinner plate. Yes, you can catch marlin from the smallest of boats, but the ono is much more manageable and doesn’t take you on an “Old Man and the Sea” ordeal.
And when I say “small boats,” I mean small.
On Friday, Matt Bumanglag trolled his 14-foot skiff Snag and Drag out of Kawaihae and returned with one of the biggest ono caught out of that port this year.
Despite the diminutive size of his barely-bigger-than-a-bathtub boat, Matt trolls five lines at once. At around noon, a 51.5-pound wahoo picked out a Super Ninja lure.
Far down the coast, Nick Frazier launched at Milolii on a somewhat bigger boat and came back with a somewhat bigger ono.
Nick fished alone on his dad’s 18-foot boat Kanani and caught a 68-pound ono.
Nick had caught four ono the day before and four ono that morning so he packed his fish in ice and hauled them up the coast from his home above Milolii. He weighed the catch at the Kona Fish Company and learned that that his big one tipped the scales at 68 pounds.
That’s not only one of the biggest Kona ono of the year but also the biggest of Nick’s fishing career.
When Nick couldn’t get the ono to fit in his fishbox, he knew he had something bigger than his previous best, a 53-pounder. The ono’s tail was still halfway out of the box even with the fish on the diagonal.
Over the years, Milolii has been a hotspot for big ono. In my book Fishing Hawaii Offshore, I have a photo of a 108-pound ono on display at the Milolii ramp.
Deep, calm water is extremely close to shore down off Milolii.
Nick says he saw a fellow fishermen pull away from the dock, set out his lines and catch a 65-pound ono immediately in just 100 feet of water.
That’s more evidence that the ono is the perfect small-boat gamefish.
By the way, Nick makes his own trolling lures. If you want to get into making your own, email me at Rizzuto@aloha.net to find out how you can get a copy of Lure-Making 101/102.
NEW FISH FLAG IN PORT. There’s a new fish flag waving in port but where did it come from and where did it go?
Some clues to the mystery.
More and more boats are taking advantage of Kona’s bottom-fishing potential for tough-fighting gamefish like kahala and ulua. It’s an ideal fishery in many ways including the fact that the catch rate is relatively dependable and the fish are big, good-looking and prized as gamefish by many. In addition, they are almost always released, usually with a tag, which makes this almost exclusively a sport fishery.
The one thing missing – a set of fish flags for amberjack and ulua to go along with the well-recognized flags for marlin, tuna, mahimahi and ono.
The absence of a kahala flag is easily remedied. Just use the flag for the closely related yellowtail, a much-desired species off the coasts of California and Mexico.
Finding an ulua flag was a lot more complicated. Somewhere around 1970, I found a pair of ulua flags at the Doi Store – formerly a Kawaihae institution. Doi’s was a natural supplier because the Kawaihae Trolling Club Tournaments always gave an ulua prize.
The flags were scarlet with a white ulua appliqué. The scarlet was a problem, however, because in the afternoon lights it looked like an orange ono flag.
Eventually, I gave one of my flags to Capt. Jeff Rogers, who has been catching a lot of ulua. He got Vivian Varney of Sun Dot flags interested in creating a new ulua flag. Sun Dot is a Kona company that is the largest fish-flag maker in the US. To avoid confusion with the orange of the ono flag and the blue of the marlin flag, they settled on a white ulua against a crimson background.
Jeff took delivery of his brand-spanking new ulua flag last Thursday – a day when he boated an ahi and tagged a pair of ulua weighing 25 to 35 pounds.
He ran up the ahi and ulua flags with a pair of tag flags for the ulua on his flagpole aboard Lady Dee.
When he returned the next day, someone had stolen all five flags.
I can’t imagine the thief (and theft it is) believes he would ever experience good luck while using stolen goods. What’s more, the market for second-hand flags can’t be worth the risk of getting caught jumping aboard someone else’s boat and cutting their halyards to steal them.
Perhaps it’s just a childish prank by someone who doesn’t think much of ulua. As the former principal of an elementary school, I’d rate it at about the kindergarten level.
If that’s you, toss the flags back aboard the Lady Dee and grow up.
And if you want to fly a flag for your ulua catches, Sun Dot has delivered a bunch to Kona Marine Supply.
VINTAGE HAWAII FISHING COLLECTION
LOT 105. (SOLD. Bidding closed at noon Hawaii Time on Friday, April 16, 2010. We'll get Lot 106 together as soon as we can find the time)
Here’s a special selection for fishermen who prefer lures with short heads and big eyes and like paying less than the retail value. The lures offered here come from the collection of a fisherman who has passed on. We bought his lure collection to assist him with his final expenses.
Lot 105 (pictured) includes four lures, a new copy of the book Fishing Hawaii Offshore and one vintage Hawaii shirt in a size of your choice -- all six items sold as a set.
Though all of the lures we are selling were previously owned, the four in this lot are in excellent condition except for some scratches from billfish strikes.
Judge the size of the lures from the size of the book (6" by 9").
The top lure is a custom-made Goggle-Eye lure that runs well on any wave. Skirted lures of this kind retail for $40 when new.
Two of the smaller lures are C &H models and the third is a Sea Searcher. These retail for about $35 each so you are looking at a set with a retail value of $150 when new
Fishing Hawaii Offshore, also included in the lot, retails for $20, so this collection has a new value well in excess of $150, not counting the shirt.
The shirt is a classic Tori Richards, a Honolulu Company that has been in the shirt business since 1956.
We have the model shown in five sizes (Men's L, XL and 2XL, Ladies M and XL). Select your size to complete the collection.
The shirts are “vintage” clothing, meaning they have been “broken in” for you but are clean and in good repair. Wear a Hawaii shirt to get into the right frame of mind to fish in the Hawaii way.
ABW shirts (already been worn) from Hawaii sell on the internet for from $10 to $125 depending on age and maker. For comparision purposes, we are showing the price list from a recent estate sale, but we are making no claim to any specific value for the shirt.
For a sample of information specifically
about Tori Richards prices new and used, visit
The collection is sold together as one unit. Best offer over $95 gets this collection. Submit offers before 12:00 noon Hawaii time on Friday, March April 16, 2010.
Email Rizzuto@aloha.net with your offer.
Hawaii FAD Finder
You can check sea current and temperature patterns by visiting http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/global_nlom32/haw.html
|Jim Rizzuto is the author of Fishing Hawaii Offshore, the Fishing Hawaii Style Series and The Kona Fishing Chronicles yearbooks. Look for his books at bookstores and tackle shops or visit www.konafishingchronicles.com.|
Courtesy of Heather Goto, Amber Hundall, and Jessica Williamson.
* Black marlin, 249, Bronson Cablay, Lady Pamela. Sept. 25.
* Ahi, 226, Steve Spina, Capt. Kerwin Masunaa, Rod Bender. June 21.
* Bigeye tuna, 211.5, Christina Yu, Capt. Teddy Hoogs, Kila Kila. Feb. 10.
* Striped marlin, 138.5, Rich Rybolt, Capt. Jeff Watson, Bite Me II. Jan 17.
* Spearfish, 62, `Austin Wasserkrug, Capt. Kevin Hiney. Bite Me. April 3.
* Sailfish, 57, B. J. Bilog, No name boat. August 6.
* Mahimahi, 38, Mark Schoeneman, Capt. Brian Wargo, April 3.
* Ono, 67, Bob Beach, Under Pressure. May 10.
* Kaku (barracuda), 51, Matt Wilson, kayak. May 23.
* Kahala, amberjack, 151.5, Justin Lazar, Capt. Jeff Rogers, Aloha Kai, July 1.
* Ulua (giant trevally), 121.5, Bart Wilcox, Shoreline. Sept. 17.
* Omilu (bluefin trevally), 20, Paul Petrill, from shore. Feb. 23.
* Aku (skipjack tuna), 24, Greg Sillake, Capt. Robert Hudson, Camelot. Feb. 23.
* Broadbill swordfish,126.5, Syd Kraul, Capt. Dale Leverone, Sea Strike. Sept. 9.
* Ahipalaha (albacore), 57, Tyler Roy, Jason Hurst, Madi-ry. Aug. 22.
* Kawakawa, 24.5. Devon Hallingstad, kayak, May 2.
* Kamanu (rainbow runner), 16.5, Nainoa Murtagh, Capt. Bill Murtagh, Nainoa. Feb 15.
* Opakapaka (pink snapper), vacant.
* Onaga (ulaula ko`aie), Brent Masunaga, Capt. Kerwin Masunaga, Rod Bender, Sept. 26.
* Uku (gray snapper), 34.5, Milton Fukumitsu, Flora III. May 28.
*`O`io (bonefish), 8.5, John Bennett, from shore, April 20.