Sunday, September 30, 2012

Nagen Guys Get Em

Mr. Nagen has been fishing with me on the L&H for a long time.  He prefers to enjoy the day and let his grandsons do the fishing.  One of them, who we nickname el nino, loves to fish as much as anyone I have ever seen!  Still single digits, I watched him stare at the rod tips on the planers in a driving rain storm and no matter what he is fishing hard the whole time he is out there!  This time we got an early start and after getting a few baits headed strait offshore.  A few miles out there was some sea weed and we slowed down and began heading south.  A few miles down James and I spotted a nice board.  When we got closer, mahi began to swim up.  Before long all of the boys were hooked up.  Everyone got to catch dolphin and just before we left, el nino, the fisherman, caught a small wahoo.  With some fish in the box I was happy as the L&H headed south.  Trav spotted a big flock of birds and when the L&H got closer everyone could see tuna breaking the surface.  The tuna grabbed the lures dragging behind us and again the boys were enjoying multiple hook ups.  Blackfin and skipjack tuna were now coming in.  Even after leaving the birds and  trolling for home we continued to get blind strikes from the delicious tuna.  We made it back to the marina and took some photos and cut the fish up for the Nagen family!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Back To Florida Fishing

Today, we fished with Gabriel Gaber after our long summer of fishing in Hawaii.  I was excited to fish on the L&H again with Jim and Trav.  These guys did a great job for us while we were gone and it made the summer much more enjoyable knowing the L&H was in good hands.  The small bait was very hard to catch, but Jim Trav and I went the day before and caught bait up north so we had plenty.  After running offshore the boys found some frigates and we headed that way.  When I got to the area there were several frigates and some other birds flying around.  Jim and I scanned from the tower as the birds were acting as if there was debris somewhere.  Then we spotted it!!!  A tree branch was floating off the bow and it was loaded with fish.  Gabriel and his gang went right to work.  Before long nice sized mahi were coming over the sides one after another.  When the team finished catching the mahi, Jim and Trav switched to wahoo and immediately got a double.  They followed up with a few more much to the delight of everyone!  What a great start for the L&H with great weather and a bunch of fish first thing.  As everyone regrouped I headed south and found another frigate with a few more nice sized mahi.  Shortly after a big storm came and we headed right into it as we pushed offshore.  After the weather cleared up we found a nice weedline.  Soon they spotted more birds and we got more dolphin by another piece of small debris.  Right after that we caught a few more and decided to head back a little early with a bunch of nice fish!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Day To Remember

It was the third day of the five day long Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament and so far our boat had zero points.  We had seen some fish but were unable to keep any hooked long enough to get a tag in and secure the points.  Today the Old South Marlin Club would join Captain Jason Holtz, Brian Toney and I on the forty-three foot "Marlin Magic".  The day started off slow as we trolled south down the Kona coast.  Then, around mid-morning a boat hooked a nice marlin in front of us.   A few minutes later a Pacific Blue Marlin raced up from behind and grabbed the marlin magic lure running closest to the boat.  "Short Bait" I yelled from my perch in the tower!  No sooner had the words left my mouth then the clip popped open and line started coming off the reel.  Our angler Sue Vermilion jumped in the chair and did an excellent job fighting the fish on fifty pound tackle.  After a great fight, and a lot of jumps, we were able to tag and release the marlin and we were on the board!  After setting back out, I went back to the tower in hopes of seeing another strike.  It was then that Captain Jason turned away from our marlin "hotspot" and began trolling back up the coast.  I wondered why Jason would just leave like that after we had landed our first blue marlin in three days.  A while later the reason started to become more evident to me.  On the horizon, at one of Jason's favorite spots (a landmark known as red hill)  there were three boats and all three were hooked up!  Jason would later tell me that he received a call from a friend telling him about a boat that had six marlin bites including a triple header.  From that information, Jason knew there would be a big fish somewhere in that area and big fish are what Jason and Brian specialize in!  When we got closer to red hill another marlin grabbed the small lure running on the long outrigger.  The fish didn't get hooked, but tried again and again.  Finally the marlin grabbed the lure and ripped off some line before coming unhooked.  Jason had the angler reel the lure back into position, hoping for one more strike from the hungry fish.  Then I spotted the marlin at least a hundred feet behind the lure.  The fish had its eye on the lure and was coming in fast!  "Get Ready" I yelled from the tower, "He is going to eat it again"!  The marlin closed the gap between itself and the lure in seconds and this time when it grabbed ahold it was hooked.  The fish did not fight much and we had our second release in only minutes.  Now our team was getting excited and things were looking up.  Less than ten minutes later another marlin came up and ate the same lure on the short bait that we caught our first fish on.  We were on...AGAIN!  This fish was wild, jumping all over the place.  When the leader came up, Brian Toney (who is the best wireman I have ever seen) took hold.  Brian got the leader and did a great job keeping the hook in the wild fish as well as keeping the fish out of the boat!  As the feisty blue marlin jumped across the transom and up the side of the Marlin Magic I did my best to stay out of Brians way.  "Get In There!!!!" Jason ordered from the bridge, fearing the fish might come off before the tag went in.  In this tournament no tag no points.  I leaned way out the side and placed the tag while the marlin was in mid air!  Now with three releases our team was kicking some tail.  Just a short time later I was back in the tower hoping for one more fish.  Then under the same lucky lure, I saw the neon blue flash of a big blue marlins tail as she swam by, deep underneath.  Before I could say a thing the marlin came from behind in hot pursuit.  "Short Bait" I cried again, as the fish swam behind the big marlin magic lure.  This time the fish did not get hooked.  Instead of giving up, it came to the long corner lure and ate that one.  I wasn't sure how big, but I knew this fish was much bigger than the three we released already.  Ken Onion was up and worked on the fish for a while.  After a half hour the big blue marlin came up jumping and we clearly saw that it was much bigger than the three hundred pound minimum size.  Brian got the gaffs ready as this fish would be coming back with us!  The fish went out to sea (the big ones usually always do this in Kona) and Jason showed his boat handling skills trying to make the big marlin come back up.  Finally after an hour and a half Brian was able to get the leader.  With the fish swimming down deep and strait away from us, Brian showed both strength and finesse as he was able to turn the big fish and get her coming alongside the boat.  I reached out as far as I could with the big flying gaff and nailed the marlin with a perfect gaff shot.  At that moment, the big marlin stuck her head out of the water showing us that it wasn't even hooked.  The hook was just stuck on the bill and came flying off!  I quickly cleated my gaff rope off and Jason came off the bridge to set the second gaff.  Brian got a meat hook in the marlins jaw and the fish was ours!!!!!!!  I knew immediately the fish was bigger than the 531 pounder I got with Jason and Brian in this same tournament two years ago.  We slid the fish in the boat and with her head sticking inside the cabin, headed for the scales.  It was a great experience for me as my family was there to watch us weigh the marlin. It pulled the scale down to 638 pounds!  And just like that we went from last place to first!  By using fifty pound we got 300 points per release and 1.5 points per pound for the big fish in addition to a 100 point bonus for biggest fish of the day as well as a bonus for most points that day. This would not only be the best few hours of fishing I witnessed in my summer at Kona (not only our fish, but many others caught in the same area as well), but it would propel the Marlin Magic and Old South teams to FIRST PLACE in the 2012 HIBT.  Jason, Brian and I would release two more blues and a spearfish during the final two days to secure our victory. Needless to say this was a day to remember!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Summer Family Fishing In Kona, Hawaii

I am back home from our family summer trip to beautiful Kona, Hawaii!  Everyone had a great time and we did a lot of fishing and caught a lot of fish.   There were so many memorable days and exciting catches that I do not know where to start.  The summer started off with great yellowfin tuna fishing with the average size being over 150 pounds!  The entire family got in on the yellowfin action with Laurel catching a nice one without any help.  Debbi followed suit with a 180 pounder that swallowed a live six pound skipjack we were using for bait.  My yellowfin tuna highlight came while fishing a porpoise school with the greenstick rig.  After boating a hundred plus pounder, I watched in awe as two big tunas crashed the artificial squids dangling from our greenstick line!  After a tough and exciting battle our angler was able to boat two, hundred plus pound yellowfin tuna at the same time on one rod.  I will never forget holding the first tuna on gaff and looking below into the clear, blue, Hawaiian water and seeing the other tuna swimming around waiting for its turn to go for a boat ride!  The tuna crown for the summer would belong to my thirteen year old son James.  On a stint where he would fish around the clock, all day and all night, James was commercial fishing with our friend Kaiwi Joe Thrasher one night when the duo would land a giant yellowfin tuna that was over the two-hundred pound mark!  James and Joe would also boat several other yellowfins, some large albacore tuna and even a pacific swordfish!
The rare (but not so rare in Kona) spearfish made its presence known throughout the entire summer.  These fish have eyes bigger than their stomach and will often try a big lure with big hooks set for big blue marlin.  Spearfish are notorious tail biters and are very difficult to hook.  That being said we were fortunate enough to get many shots at spears and were able to catch fifteen of the rarest billfish in the world!  My ten year old daughter Laurel's potential IGFA record 36.5 pound spearfish is one I will not soon forget!  I will also remember a spear hooked on the fourth day of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament.  We were leading the tournament and every fish was very IMPORTANT!  Captain Jason Holtz backed down hard as we chased the spear all over.  The shortbill spearfish jumped fifteen times as we fought it with minimal drag to avoid pulling the hook.  Unfortunately the spear jumped off before we could get a tag in, but what fun it was chasing that fish around on the surface!
The blue marlin is the king of all fishes in Kona, Hawaii!  These fish were hard to find in the early part of the summer, but as the season wore on they became more and more abundant.  Everyone in the family had action with the blue marlin.  Laurel had three marlin on that would have been world records for her, but unfortunately they all got off, including a fish over five hundred pounds that Laurel had on for several minutes.  She was able to catch and release blue marlin, but none big enough for the record.  James got in on the blue marlin action as well, catching them from the chair as well as pullling on these fish with the leader.  James handled the leader on a day when his uncle Trey released three blue marlin and a spearfish.
Debbi also caught Pacific blue marlin including a nice fish in the ladies tournament.  Later that same day we had a big fish come to the teasers, then fade back and eat a lure armed with a 9/0 hook.  Another female member of out tournament team was up at the time, but the tournament winning marlin got off the hook shortly after the strike.  I spent lots of time in the tower, and saw many blue marlin come to the lures, each and every one very exciting in its own way.  The fish I will remember the most, however, came one afternoon while fishing on the Marlin Magic with Jason Holtz and Brian Toney.  We had just jumped off a small blue marlin when the biggest fish I have ever seen came nearly all the way out of the water after the short rigger lure and missed!  Not to be denied, the GIANT blue marlin raced from behind the lure, pushing a wake from its massive size and grabbed the lure.  The marlin went to the air immediately, giving everyone on board a great view of the size of the fish.  When the fish hit the water again, it stripped hundreds of yards of line from the reel in seconds.  As Brian and I cleared the other lines, Jason chased the fish down.  Our angler (a big guy from New Zealand) did a great job on the fish.  Jason ordered us to "Get the Gaffs out!" and my heart started beating faster and faster as we will only pull out the gaffs if we think the fish is over the magical thousand pound mark!  Jason would later tell me that this fish impressed him more on the bite than the fish they caught only a couple weeks earlier in a tournament that would weigh in at 940 pounds!!  Unfortunately the blue marlin we were fighting this day would pull the hook less than a hundred feet from the boat after an intense forty-five minute battle:(  There are stories like this that happen nearly every day in the calm, deep waters off Kona.  During our stay fish over 600, 700, 800, 900, and even 1000 pounds were weighed and or released making for exciting fishing knowing that at any time you could be hooked into a true monster!  One fisherman who travels to Kona every year to fish big marlin summed it up best by saying "Kona is the only place in the world where someone catches a fish over five hundred pounds every day!!  Why would you want to fish anywhere else". 

Our family will be heading back to Kona next summer, so if you are interested in big yellowfin tuna, the rare shortbill spearfish or the magnificent (sometimes gigantic) blue marlin let us know and we can arrange a trip for you.  There are tons of other things to do on the big island of Hawaii, but fishing flat calm waters in the lee of the island is what does it for me!