Hawaii - July 2021

Holokai

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***Disclaimer- apologies in advance for spelling/grammar errors as I’m typing this on my phone***

Been busy and missed most of the good run of ahi (yellowfin tuna) but was able to get on the water last Monday.

Heading out of the harbor we set course for the spot around 10 miles away. Given the fish movement we set the spread early, around the 300 fathom line, and throttled back to trolling speed. Not ten minutes later a small boat about 100 yards off our port bow stopped abruptly and the captain made his way to the stern. The rod/line angle made it clear that he was hooked into a good sized ahi so we altered course to give him some room to work; after cheering him on as we passed we reset the autopilot (can't believe I've gone so long without it) and continued on our way to the spot.

Anticipation slowly turned to anxiety as we got closer to the grounds, occasionally passing another boat hooked up to an ahi. Hours ticked by as we, along with at least a dozen other boats, worked the area with fewer and fewer boats stopping to fight fish. I called a friend a few miles away and he reported there was still a little more activity so we decided to kill time and head in his direction.

Boredom got the better of us so one of the crew asked if he could swap out a corner lure for a super plunger (14” marlin lure). The mantra on the boat became “action is action” as he adjusted the lure distance in the spread. We spent the next few minutes admiring the big splash and smoke trail of the lure and debating over who would have to fight the marlin that would inevitably come along to bite. Our amusement quickly waned and I began paying more attention to the chart plotter to determine how far out we were from meeting the productive zone

Looking up I noticed one of the better-known fishermen from Waianae scouring the area from his tuna tower and noted our course was parallel and a few hundred yards shallower. Figuring that he must be on to something (you can see a lot more from 15 feet higher) I looked back to check the spread and saw the corner rod with the super plunger keel over. Oddly enough there was no sound but as I focused on the reel I noted line ripping out at an increasing rate. My heart sank as I followed the line from the reel tip and saw its angle parallel to the water; a sure sign of a marlin. Autopilot once again became a blessing as we pointed the boat downsea, engaged heading hold, and began clearing lines. My friend's girlfriend kept tension on the line and we started to handline while she cranked with the goal being to get the fish in ASAP to maintain quality. The fish continued to fight near the surface for another 15 minutes as we steadily gained line back. With 100 feet to go the fish made a slow dive and my friend readied the bangstick in anticipation of having to dispatch a marlin. The last 50 feet until leader were a struggle with the fish trying to dive and us trying to keep the line from hitting the engine/hull. I switched from handlining to taking full wraps as soon as we saw the swivel and was rewarded with the sweet sight of an ahi slowly emerging from the depths.

After boating the fish we reset the spread (thanks again, autopilot) and headed back to the zone. The bite slowed down considerably so we made our way inside to the 500 fathom ledge and ended the day watching a guy on a jetski battle a marlin for a good hour.

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My regular fishing partner freed up later in the week so we decided to check out Kaneohe on Thursday in hopes of hooking up to another ahi. The water had just enough texture and we set off before dawn in hopes of a quick bite and early day. Reports from a few friends had the fish all over so we headed straight out to an area we'd previously had luck. The sunrise revealed a good amount of seabirds in the area but none actively working with half transiting out to a far zone. We worked the area for about an hour until the majority of the birds started to leave; we quickly followed, still hoping to get a lucky bite in the blind. Over the next hour and a half we entertained ourselves by playing with the autopilot (new toy so it gets mentioned a lot), singing along to random music, and debating where to fish the upcoming tide change. When we finally got to the buoy we were greeting by a half dozen other boats trolling and two dropping live bait. No one seemed to be hooked up and the birds weren't actively working so we made a few obligatory passes before heading past to another area that held fish earlier in the week. We kept searching for the next couple hours, remarked how boring trolling with the autopilot was (oh, the tragedy of not having to steer), and relaxed. Our searching eventually led us back in the vicinity of the buoy where my friend reported several knockdowns from small marlin but no solid hookup.

Deciding to bypass the buoy circus we continued up the ledge with the intent of fishing the topside for the late afternoon bite. Knowing it would be at least a few hours I let my friend know I was going to take a nap and made my way to the cuddy. As luck would have it the center rigger clip popped and the reel started screaming as soon as knelt down to crawl inside. Autopilot was once again the MVP on board as we set it to hold our heading and raced to clear the lines. It soon became evident that we would need to chase the fish down if we had any hope of landing it so I benched our MVP (last time I'll mention it) and had my friend crank while we turned and throttled up.

Unlike the ahi earlier in the week, this fish fought in a classic pattern with a steady, deep dive, followed by some short runs. We used the boat and current to continually change the angle of attack and keep pressure on with the hope of confusing the fish and tiring it faster. This tactic seemed to pay off and we were able to get the fish near the surface in about 45 minutes.

At this point I prepped the gaff, bat, leadering gloves, and started to handline again, figuring there was no more than 50 yards of line left. At about the same time it seemed the fish decided to magically transform from the target species (ahi) to a mythical creature we know as a unicorn (marlin). The line angle became more parallel with the surface of the water and our worst fears were confirmed when the fish made a single jump away from the boat. Upon hitting the water it aimed for the bottom some 1200 fathoms down, turned on the afterburners, and reminded us that it wasn't the tiny little ahi we were targeting. A quick strategy meeting followed as we decided to let the fish run and hopefully get enough slack in the line to shake the hook (usually happens with marlin) so we would get our lure back. Our meeting was interrupted by the ratchet increasing in pitch as we approached the quarter spool level so we adjourned, turned the boat, and started to chase the fish.

Half an hour later it became clear that the fish was hooked solid and the only way to get the lure back would be by getting the fish to leader. Thus began a two-hour ordeal that saw us gain back most of the line only to have the fish make 100+ yard runs in response. After reaching a near-stalemate with the fish about 20 fathoms down we ramped up our driving tactics to create some horizontal distance and eventually were able to plane the fish up near the surface. The last 20 feet of mainline proved to be the hardest to gain as the we didn't want to lock the drag or take wraps until we had the leader in hand. We repeatedly (6 times) had the swivel in hand but the fish would either turn or just lean over and run off 20-50 yards of line. We finally were able to maneuver the boat at just the right angle to the fish and lead it in. My partner waited patiently for an opening and applied the bangstick with perfect placement. Unfortunately for him the stainless rod holding the powerhead to the shaft bent and didn't allow the firing pin to strike the primer. Thankfully the fish was extremely tired and my partner was able to secure a gaff while I figured out how to rig the bangstick to work using a modified axe swinging motion. ***Note that this was only possible because we were using blanks, I was able to swing parallel to the hull, and had a large target*** It took 4 shots to get the placement right but the fish finally bronzed over and we were able to relax.

After securing a second gaff and meat hook we got the tail tied off to a cleat and the body of the fish positioned along the gunnel. Timing our lift with the swells we did a countdown and pulled as hard as we could. I wish I could say that the adrenaline was enough but in reality we were only able to get up to the eye of the fish above the gunnel. After struggling for a few minutes we stopped to reevaluate and concluded that the fish was significantly larger than we thought. After a few phone calls I was reminded that we could rig up the fish with a meat hook and tow it in. A few minutes of wrapping and tying the mouth closed was all we needed and we were headed home with the fish surfing the first wake.

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This is where I'm glad the previous owner had a speed fetish as the 250 Suzuki made short work of the tow and we were able to hold a steady 8-9 knots in the chop. Two hours and a half hours later we were at the dock with our friend standing by to cut the fish up and take it to be smoked.

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leeccoll

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Wow!!

Thanks for sharing Holokai, that is a great story.

A beast of a Marlin~
 
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SkunkBoat

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Awesome. great stories.
The yellowfin here rarely have the long sickle fins like yours. We call them "Allisons" here.

Got this Sunday on a jig in 150 feet..Thats rare too, used to be yellowfins were 600 ft

QS6scOUl.jpg
 
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Holokai

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Awesome. great stories.
The yellowfin here rarely have the long sickle fins like yours. We call them "Allisons" here.

Got this Sunday on a jig in 150 feet..Thats rare too, used to be yellowfins were 600 ft

QS6scOUl.jpg

Nice! Some people drop jigs for em here but it takes so long to bring them up that we risk “burning” the meat due to lactic acid buildup.

I’ve heard that the sickles aren’t as long on the fish off the continental US; not sure if it’s a subspecies? Funny thing it used to be that only the big ones had really long sickles here but lately even some of the smaller ones have relatively long sickles.

Wow!!

Thanks for sharing Holokai, that is a great story.

A beast of a Marlin~

We are terrible at guessing weight so I was only able to tell my friend “at least 250” because we couldn’t lift it into the boat. Apparently it was between 400-500, closer to 500 according to a bunch of people who have seen big fish. We’re calling it 400 to be safe :)