The stars were aligned last week in Kona when we invited the famous fishing chronicle author Jim Rizzuto and his 16 year old grandson Kai Rizzuto visiting from New York on his winter break. Just the day before we had released a 550 lb. blue marlin and a 100 lb. striped marlin so we knew we had our work cut out for us to top that one.
We were trolling outside of Kahaluu at about 1000 fathoms around 1 pm looking for that elusive grander. Then the fish struck the Eric Koya lure. An explosion of white water erupted and a 13 foot long marlin leaped out of the water in it’s place. Our deckhand Carlton yelled, “Big Fish! Get in the chair, Kai.”
McGrew likes to keep the fight short by maneuvering the boat to stay close. A short fight is always easier on a fish you plan to release but it is much tougher on the angler, who has to fight the fish with the heaviest drag he can stand. The marlin jumped in about three large circles clear out of the water while McGrew kept the line tight, followed the fish and backed down hard. Because of the tight drag and the amount of energy that the fish put out at the beginning of the fight, it exhausted quickly and came belly up after about 30 minutes. No amount of resuscitation would revive it, which ended any possibility of release. They pulled the fish in and it’s tail stuck out of the doorway unable to close. Carlton measured out the “short length” (tip of the lower jaw to fork of the tail) at 139″ and the tail stump at 20″. Those lengths told us the fish would “go” over 1000 lbs. With a cast of congratulatory fishing friends to help, the fish was weighed and the scales tipped at “1058” lbs. The fish was then given to a few local families where over 100 people enjoyed this fish for many meals.
This gives McGrew & Carlton their third career “Grander” equivalent to a Hollywood Academy Award.
Usually the story ends here, however, the hype created by this amazing catch from a 16 year old quickly went viral and was all over the news around the word on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX News, ESPN, fishtrack.com and other media outlets. Kai is now back in class in Manhattan, NY where he has already done many local interviews with the New York daily news and TV stations. Kai will be telling his “Big Fish that didn’t get away” story for many year to come.
Aloha Nui Loa,
Jennifer & McGrew Rice
We are in the middle of our usual Spearfish Run in full force here in Kona. We seem to be hooking up with them almost everyday now. The Spearfish run starts around the end of December through the beginning of May. The larger Blue Marlin follow the spearfish in and we have a good chance of hooking a Big One at this time also.
The history of the SHORTBILL SPEARFISH OR (HEBI) as we call it in Hawaii.
Its dorsal fin is shorter than that of other billfish species and its bill is very short in comparison. Hebe caught in Hawaiian waters are usually between 20 and 40 lbs. in weight.
Hebi has a white to pink colored flesh that is somewhat softer than a striped marlin or kajiki. Its flavor is mild. It is one of the several species of billfish which are suitable for grilled or broiled catch of the day menu items in restaurants.
HEALTH & NUTRITIONAL FACTS:
The Hawaiian spearfish is an excellent source of healthy extra lean protein. It is also low in saturated fat and sodium. It is rich in niacin, vitamin B-12, phosphorus and selenium. Hawaii spearfish is a good source of vitamin B6 and iodine. Hawaii spearfish also provides about 350 mg. of omega-3’s per 4 ounce serving of fresh fish.
Please go to our facebook page to see all of the recent spearfish and other catches aboard the IHU NUI fleet at https://www.facebook.com/ihunui.
Team Kona Fishing Charters continues to have fun and do different things. One of the goals for 2015 is for Captain McGrew and Leader man Carlton to teach Kona Fishing Charters owner, Ed Mueller, how to do all the chores of fishing. That includes driving the boat. Just after the first of the year the Kona Fishing Charters took off on a learning day. The launch from the harbor went fine until McGrew asked Ed, who was driving, what he thought Carlton should do with the anchoring rope tied to slip buoy. Ed obviously needed to pay more attention to all the details. Quickly Captain McGrew sorted out the error and we were on our way. After that slight oversight fishing began and the route was chosen to go north. After searching for the big one for several hours Captain McGrew suggested going out further to fish in 1700 fathoms of water. For Kona that is not that far off shore but not our normal fishing waters. As always Captain McGrew has a sixth sense and Ed drove over a big Marlin and the fun began. Since the Kona Fishing Charters is followed locally by the press the following article was printed in the West Hawaii paper. I think you will enjoy journalist Jim Rizzuto take on the adventure.
PERFECT TEAM COMBO SCORES BIG
On the perfect team, every player can play every position, or so they say. On Thursday, that strategy worked perfecly for team Kona Fishing Charters when they hooked the biggest marlin tagged last week. Normally, Capt. McGrew Rice maneuvers the boat to keep the fish close, boat owner Ed Mueller handles the rod-and-reel chores, and crew Carlton Arai leaders the fish to the boat for tag and release.
After Thursday’s 500-pounder hit a metal jet lure (blue and pink skirts) off Kaiwi at about 10:30 am, Ed took the helm, McGrew waited for the end game and Carlton got in the chair to do the pump-and-grind for 20 minutes.
Though Carlton has been one of Kona’s top pros for as long as he has been alive, I can’t ever remember a time when he actually reeled in a marlin. McGrew says it has been more than a dozen years, but it has been about seven since McGrew leadered a fish.
From on-the-scene reports and photos, Carlton did it very well. “And Ed did the driving almost as well as a professional captain,” McGrew said. “He has been paying attention.”
Switching positions is not new to big-game fishing here in Kona and might have applications to other sports. After all, a few weeks ago in the Cotton Bowl, a 390-pound Baylor lineman lined up in a receiver-eligible position and caught an 18-yard pass for a touchdown. The next day, Oklahoma State copied the idea and put the ball in the hands of an erstwhile defensive lineman for a 48-yard completion in the Cactus Bowl. But neither of those guys has very much sizeways on our large-and-in-charge guy Carlton.
Last Saturday we held the blessings of our new boats the IHU NUI and the IHU NUI II. This sacred ritual is called “lolo ana I ka moku (imparting brains to the boat), was used by ancient kahuna (priests) to consecrate the launching of a new canoe. In accordance with cultural protocol, the ceremonial dedication commenced with a pule kahea (sacred prayer chant) to invoke the presence of the benevolent Hawaiian deities. Using a koa bowl filled with coconut water and a lau ki (ti leaf), kahu performed the customary pi kai (sprinkling blessing) with the kōkua (help) of the boatowner, to spiritually sanctify the vessel and remove any taboo. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Daniel Akaka and his wife Anna and as they encircled the two boats, they called upon the Hawaiian akua and ‘aumakua (ancestral guardian spirits) to watch over, guide and safeguard the boat on its seafaring ocean voyages to and from Hawaii’s shores. Maile Leis were fastened to the bow of the boat for protection. The blessing ceremony concluded with the sharing of aloha and kahu saying, “E au ana ‘oe iloko o keia moku me ka palekana a me ke aloha o na Akua.” (You may travel inside of this boat with safety and the blessings of the heavenly ones.
This was a beautiful sunny clear day in Kona after a storm had just passed the day before and we were surrounded by family and many special friends and other Captains from Honokohau Harbor. After the ceremony we were also blessed to have had the Luau provided by Sam Choy, his lovely wife Carol and their son Chris.
We hope that you will all come over to the Big Island soon to experience our New Rides.
Aloha from your IHU NUI Family
WE SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST………..
On December 10th Capt. McGrew Rice and crew Carlton Arai hauled a huge blue marlin aboard the charter boat Kona Fishing Charters. Judging by eye, alone, it could have topped the 1,000-pound mark. If so, it would have been the third grander of the year for Kona and the third grander for each of McGrew and Carlton. But we fishermen can’t go only by what our lying eyes tell us, or every fish would be a world record. It isn’t a grander until the weigh scales make it official. Obey the Kona rule: “You can’t say it unless you weigh it.”
In the long ride back to the dock, McGrew and Carlton pulled out the tape, checked some key measurements, and got ready to be disappointed.
First, the tail stump measured just over 19 inches. The stump is the link between the motor (the body’s muscle mass) and the propeller (the big sweeping tail). The stump (officially, the “caudal peduncle”) on a grander usually has a girth of at least 20 inches. McGrew says he wouldn’t be comfortable with any measurement less than 19.5 inches.
Next comes the “short length,” which is the distance from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail (LJFT). For a marlin of normal conformation (not too fat, not too skinny), the LJFT length has to be 134 inches. This one came in at 133 inches.
So it looked like the Kona Fishing Charters’s Wednesday blue would be a few pounds less than 1,000. The missing factor would be what the marlin had in its belly. If it had feasted royally on a big tuna, that would make up all the weight needed.
Back at the dock, they were sure to bind the mouth shut so the stomach contents stayed put as the Fuel Dock crew swung the fish up and out of the boat for weighing. The scale meter flashed the true weight at that anxious moment in time as “996.” As McGrew’s wife Jennifer noted, it was one baitfish away from being Kona’s third grander of 2014.
That makes it what I call a “part-time grander.” At some point in its feeding cycle over the preceding days, it undoubtedly topped the 1,000-pound mark, because stomach contents do count in the official weight. Indeed, it might have been a grander when hooked that day. Marlin are known to unload their bellies during the fight. Ironically, if McGrew had caught it on a 4-pound bait and the fish had swallowed it, forget the measurements. The blue would have come in at 1,000 pounds on the nose.
So that’s the lesson for the day. You now have the standard measurements to file away for the next time you hook a giant marlin and wonder whether it is big enough to “go.”
THE REST OF THE STORY
The 996-pound marlin showed up at a spot McGrew had staked out the previous day. The Kona Fishing Charters had trolled through an area in 1500 fathoms off Keauhou and encountered big aku (skipjack tuna). These baitfish are great belly-fillers for marlin of all sizes.
The prospects for a big fish looked even better when word got around that Herb Jensen and John Wilson of the boat Lawaia had tagged and released a fish estimated at 650 pounds on Tuesday.
Wednesday, McGrew returned with Carlton and his charter Mike Demmer of Minnesota. Mike is a novice big-game fisherman and the 996-pounder would be his first blue marlin ever.
Allowing for fish movements based on current changes, they were working the promising area at around 10:00 am when the line on the short rigger snapped out of the release clip. In that position, Carlton had set out a purple Softhead lure — a style that catches fish of all sizes and types. In fact, when the line went down with very little fanfare, Carlton suspected it might be one of the smaller striped marlin we have been expecting to arrive in waves any day now.
Carlton changed his mind quickly when the line began screaming off the reel. He saw the fish jump completely out of the water and revised his estimate up to 800-pounds or more.
“This fish had more line out on me than I’ve had in years,” McGrew said. Time to get some back.
Though he was fighting his first marlin, Mike settled into the routine he had learned earlier during orientation and stayed with it as McGrew turned the Kona Fishing Charters to chase the fish. When a big fish takes control and heads for the horizon, you don’t wait until it has emptied the reel before you realize you have to go after it to keep what’s left of your line. With a little bit of help from Carlton toward the end, Mike got the fish to the boat in about an hour and ten minutes.
Based on their previous estimate of 800 pounds or so, McGrew and Carlton were set on placing a tag, removing the hook and releasing the fish. Unfortunately, the fish got very stubborn with about 40 or 50 yards out. It fought until it rolled over, changed color, and quit. Unable to revive it, they hauled it aboard and began their “guess-the-size” game.
Though it didn’t make the 1,000-pound mark, it is still the third heaviest marlin weighed here in 2014.
With two weeks left to go, that third grander of 2014 might yet show, McGrew said. “People forget that November, December and January can be good ‘big-fish months’ here in Kona”. Story by Jim Rizzuto.