On July 28, anglers Darrell Omori and Guy Kitaoka boated a 1,368-pound Pacific blue marlin to record Kona’s third “grander” of 2014. It’s Kona’s biggest blue since a 1,356-pounder on Spellbound in June, 1992 and a 1,400-pounder on Marlin Magic in May, 1990.
The two long-time fishing buddies had set out from Keauhou Bay on Darrell’s 20-foot skiff Dayna to catch some tuna for an upcoming event. They left late in the morning, about 11:30 am, to fish for a few hours near an offshore cage holding farmed fish. The floating cage attracts fish of all kinds but their initial efforts to catch `ahi down deep on handlines didn’t produce. So they switched to towing a live bait (an aku) in hopes of catching a small marlin to smoke for party pupus.
Their “big one” took their live bait almost imediately and ran out a quarter mile of line before jumping. From that distance, Guy estimated the fish at 250 pounds or so and Darrell upped it to 300. The fish came out of the water about 50 yards from where Capt. Bomboy Llanes was working a greenstick rig for tuna. “Bombs” immediately got on the phone to Darrell and told him that his fish was well over 1,000 pounds. It was Darrell’s 58th birthday, so he thought his old friend might be punking him, but the veteran skipper was way too excited to be joking.
Darrell and Guy were fishing with Penn 80 wide reels powered with electric motors to help crank fish in. The reels were mounted on bent-butt “stubby” rods — a length that makes it easier to fish from small boats. When the big fish nearly stripped the reel, they realized they would have to turn their boat and chase it. Even with the help of their push-button reel, it took them an hour and a half to get the 1,368-pound fish to the boat.
The first time they pulled it near, the marlin jumped about 30 yards out. When they saw its huge bulk up close, they upped their estimate to 800-pounds. After they got it to the boat, they realized it was far too big for them to bring aboard. Bomboy had stayed nearby in case they needed help and volunteered to bring the fish aboard his boat Lana Kila, which had a transom door for easy boarding. With 7 strong fishermen pulling on ropes, they hauled it through the door and slid it onto the deck. By now, word of the grander had spread up the coast to Honokohau Harbor, where they brought it to weigh with the assistance of a suitable hoist.
The marlin was a real “fatty,” much bulkier than usual. Observors speculated that the big fish had been actively feeding on the 100-pound yellowfins rolling in the surrounding area. In fact, Bomboy caught 7 tuna ranging from 80- to 100-pounds on his dancing squids as he fished nearby. When they opened the marlin, they found the remains of a tuna estimated at about 30 pounds, but the belly was otherwise empty.
This “catch of a lifetime” adds one more story to Guy’s checkered career as a big-game fisherman. During a long-ago Wee Guys Tournament, Guy was part of a team that hooked a potential grander and fought it for nine hours before it broke off. On at least one occasion, Guy was fishing during the July 4th World Cup Blue Marlin Tournament, caught a marlin bigger than the winner, but lost out on a half million dollars because his boat wasn’t entered. When he has entered the event, he has gotten skunked.
But yesterday’s catch may represent a rueful redemption of sorts. Yes they caught the biggest blue marlin in more than two decades, but they decided to fish on Darrell’s Dayna instead of Guy’s boat Cynthia. Guy doesn’t use electric reels on Cynthia.
A 90-minute fight is a short battle with a fish this size. For some very surprising reasons, a longer fight would almost certainly have ended in nothing but a fish story. No surprise in the fact that they were live-baiting with a 400-pound test leader sized for tuna not big marlin. For comparison, note that the Luna’s 1,226.5 pound blue marlin in May was caught on a 750-pound test leader. Lighter leaders fray through during long battles. But here is the oddity of all oddities. During the fight, the bait broke away from the hook but not the leader. The 4-pound aku remained attached by its lower jaw. It slid all the way up the leader past the swivel and then up another 50 yards of line where it jigged enticingly with every crank of the reel and movement of the fish. At any moment during the fight, a hungry interloper could have pounced on the bait and cut the line.
Though their fish is only 8 pounds under the 1,376-pound World Record certified by the International Gamefish Association, it would not have been eligible for record consideration anyway. The IGFA does not accept the use of a motor-driven reel, The fish was first listed with granderwatch.com as the 8th grander caught anywhere in the world this year, but the site director removed it because of the motorized tackle. The IGFA record was caught here in May, 1982 on the boat No Problem and was certified because all IGFA rules were scruptulously followed.