Kona Grander # 5 for 2015

Capt. Shawn Rotella says the biggest marlin he ever saw tried to devour this 90-pound tuna as it was being pulled in by a client aboard the boat Night Runner. Photo courtesy of Night Runner Sport Fishing.

For long stretches of the year, the billfish report was dominated by 100- to 300-pound blue marlin. Female blues grow much bigger than males, which rarely top 300 pounds, so the catch has been predominatly fully mature males. When few, if any, big females were showing up in the weekly catch, the big question was “Where are the big girls?”

One possible answer? They were here but the smaller males were quicker to get to the lures and get hooked. Not much chivalry involved when it comes to which billfish gets a bellyful. And just because of the hit-or-miss nature of spawning behavior, the ratio of males to females is usually at least 3 or 4 to 1.

Last Wednesday’s 1,309-pound blue marlin on Northern Lights I provides a case in point. By the time the big fish showed up in the wake, the lucky lads on the classic 37-foot Merritt had already tagged and released two smaller blues. In fact, they were fighting a third small blue when they spotted the giant following the teaser, according to skipper Mat Bowman.

Mat and crew Kyle Vannatta could see the dark shape clearly in the flat-calm waters of a sunny mid-day off Hookena. They had both been on deck aboard Northern Lights II, a 47-foot Buddy Davis, with Capt. Kevin Nakamaru the week before when the trio found a 1075-pound blue for angler Brent Nelson. From their recent experience with a “grander,” they knew what a big fish looked like in the water. They hazarded a guess at 700 pounds or more, which was enough to make them want to go for it even with another marlin on the line.

“We knew it was big, but not that big,” Mat said.

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