From the Kona Fishing Chronicles Archives of December, 2014 By Jim Rizzuto
From the earliest days, the history of fishing lures throughout the Pacific has been a story of artificial baits crafted from discards like bone, shell, and boar bristles. That tradition has continued even into modern times with imaginative fishcatchers recycled from novelty items like beer cans, for example. Capt. Jeff Rogers caught Kona’s biggest marlin of last week on a lure he made from a Gatorade bottle.
On Tuesday, Jeff hosted Chris Zelenka and his family aboard Aloha Kai. His guests were happy to be at sea on a beautiful day and pleased with anything they might catch. Jeff started with small fish to teach them the tackle and how to make sure they could wind the line correctly and uniformly.
The FADs have been holding baitfish of many kinds — kawakawa, aku, shibi, and frigate mackerel for starters. Soon, everyone had enough chances to fight the tough little scrappers so Jeff turned Aloha Kai north toward the world famous Kona “Grounds” in hopes of finding something bigger.
Southwest of the Grounds, Jeff spotted a current line marking a seam where two different bodies of water were coming together. The long rivers of mixing waters often attract baitfish and predators. Maybe a few mahimahi?
Jeff was trolling a pattern of very sophistocated, high priced, store-bought lures with one exception. The biggest “lure” in the spread was his “Gator.” It’s a Gatorade bottle, skirted with vinyl strips, and rigged with hooks. When he sets it out, the bottle fills with water and makes a huge fish-attracting commotion as it plows along the surface.
When he deploys this lure, his parties are usually skeptical. But he reassures him that fish do hit it and the strikers are almost always marlin weighing 300 pounds or more. That’s why he always sets it out on the short-corner line — the big-fish spot in the pattern.
Jeff told them he’d had a really big fish on the same “lure” a few days before and lost it after a 20-minute fight. No worries. Replacements are easy to make with very inexpensive materials from your trash.
Within ten minutes of starting his troll along the current line, a 671-pound blue marlin crushed the Gatorade bottle, took the hooks and started a tail-walking run intended to empty the reel.
The fish ripped 800 yards of line from the reel on its first run. Chris is a big guy, 6 feet 4 and 250 or so pounds with more than enough muscle to work hard on a big fish. As soon as Jeff’s well-trained guests brought in the extra lines, Jeff began backing steadily toward the fish so Chris could crank the half mile of line back in.
As they got close, the marlin dove and stayed down. Soon they were straight up and down over the marlin as it sulked far below.
That’s the time to put the angle in “angling.” By pulling the boat forward against the tight line, the skipper can change the angle of pull and help the angler raise the fish. Affer a half hour of coordinated effort between Chris and Jeff, the marlin was at the surface and it was time to run back to port.
MAKE YOUR OWN FOR CHRISTMAS
Capt. Jeff’s Gatorade bottle aside, Kona fishermen have followed a long-standing tradition of making their own exquisite trolling lures. Some local folks have turned professional and Kona’s best lure-crafters are now world-famous for producing the best lures found anywhere in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans — everywhere big marlin roam.
If you want to get into making your own, I have a deal for you just in time for Christmas. My book “Lure-Making 201/202” came off the press a few weeks ago and is now available. So it is time to put it on your Christmas list and start hinting. The book is available directly from me. Just email me at [email protected] for details.