Digest — By Capt. Dave Lear
|Oahu's new Ko Olina Marina is the perfect place to target yellowfin and other bluewater adversaries.|
Mention Oahu, the most popular destination in Hawaii, to Joe Tourist, and he'll probably start babbling about Diamond Head and surfing. If Joe happens to be an angler, however, he's more likely to sing the praises of the Big Island's Kona than he is of Honolulu. Maybe that's because the trade winds whip around Oahu's southeastern point of Makapuu and its northwestern counterpart at Kaena, creating Victory at Sea conditions.
To avoid mal de mer-induced chumming, most of the charter vessels catering to tourists fish the calmer waters along Oahu's western shore, where the Waianae Mountains offer protection from the wind. But now, thanks to the opening of a new marina and charter operation, prime waters are easily accessible from the luxury of a world-class spa and golf resort.
The Ko Olina Marina is located a half-hour west of the Honolulu International Airport, near the Barber's Point Naval Air Station. The newly completed, 43-acre facility offers 270 slips that can accommodate vessels up to 150 feet LOA alongside floating concrete docks. Standard services include electrical power, water, telephone and cable TV connections, together with a launch ramp, fuel dock, and ship's store.
The marina is within walking distance of the gated JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa, which features, among other things, a championship course at the Ko Olina Golf Club; private residences are in the works as well. The complex is away from the bustle of downtown Honolulu, yet convenient to historical attractions, shopping, and nightlife.
But our focus is on sportfishing, and the bluewater potential is excellent, as I discovered last April. Ko Olina's big-game trolling duties are exclusively handled by Legend, a 31 Cabo Express owned by Mike Vidal, the 2000 World Billfish Series World Champion of Billfishing. Capt. Mike Pruner, a retired Navy submariner, runs Legend, and he provided my Oahu initiation.
With the emerald-green mountains as a backdrop and a precipitous drop-off just beyond the marina's breakwater, Ko Olina is ideally situated for big-game pursuits. Legend's stand-in mate Brian Greene quickly had the lures bubbling in staggered wakes as we trolled into greater depths searching for spearfish, tuna, and blue marlin. En route we scanned the horizon for shearwater or frigate birds to tip off the presence of skipjack tuna or subsurface marlin. The skipjacks will reach 40 pounds locally.
"If the skipjacks are around, that's where you'll find marlin," Pruner says. "They're the first choice on the pupu platter. Marlin love `em." Summertime is the prime season for blues, although they are common throughout the year. Black marlin frequent the shallow water near ledges (the state record is 1,200 pounds, according to Pruner), and stripers make a seasonal appearance as well.
Wahoo and mahi mahi (dolphin) are also favorite targets, but the real frenzy comes with the arrival of ahi or yellowfin tuna. Ahi is Japanese for "fire," and when the bite is on, the number of boats heading offshore is as frantic as hook-and-ladder trucks rolling to a five-alarm blaze. The Ahi Fever Tournament, held each June, boasts Hawaii's largest competitive fleet, with an average of 250 boats.
This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.