Part 2: Ahi, Ono, Wahoo...
Written & Photographed By Capt. Dave Lear — February 2002
Clearing the harbor jetties, Vidal put the nimble sportfisherman on plane as we sliced through the pond-like water. Kona is on the lee side of Hawaii, and the towering sister volcanoes of Mauna Lea and Mauna Loa (13,795 and 13,677 feet, respectively) act as a natural wind break. The precipitous drop-off immediately offshore adds to the ideal conditions and produces predictable runs of pelagic gamefish.
According to Vidal and Azevedo, the ahi, or large yellowfin tuna, start arriving in March and stay through September. Next in line are the ono (wahoo), followed by two waves of spearfish in the spring and fall. Striped marlin appear before Halloween and stick around for six months, trailed closely by mahi mahi. The peak times for blue marlin are June through September, although granders--fish exceeding 1,000 pounds--have been taken in Kona during all 12 months, oftentimes exceeding more than 1,600 pounds.
"Regardless of what anyone says, Kona is the blue marlin capital of the world," Mike Vidal proclaims proudly. "There are more big fish caught here every year than anywhere else. We all know there's a 2,000-pounder waiting to be taken. Recently a big one was hanging around, but nobody hooked it. Several boats said it was the biggest fish they've ever seen, and we've all seen fish over 1,000 pounds. Using 130-pound gear on a monster like that would be like using a BB gun on a grizzly bear."
Since spearfish were our intended target, our armament consisted of Penn International 80STW reels loaded with 130-pound Extreme monofilament line. We ran five lines, one each from the outriggers and short corners and a center, way-back stinger rig from the flying bridge. The lures--jet heads for ahi and big pushers for marlin--were tightly staggered on subsequent waves to simulate a school of bait. The stinger lure was the smallest in the spread, yet often turned out to be the one eaten first. "Elephants eat peanuts, too," Vidal observed.
Following the ledges and fathom lines in varying depths from 6,000 to 10,000 feet, we trolled in search of our quarry. Spearfish are generally loners, so I expected to have limited opportunities over the next two days. The best times are the couple of hours before and after the tidal changes, according to Azevedo.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.