Game fishers continue to go through the motions here, prepping tackle and boats, watching the sea surface charts and waiting and hoping for the water to come good.
Like last year, we seem to have a fairly lifeless back eddy of cold, green water trapped on the coast by lots of current out wide, so the game fishing has been very patchy.
Fortunately, the bottom fishing has picked up after a very slow Winter with snapper, teraglin and pearl perch putting in a welcome appearance. The dreaded leatherjackets appear to have thinned out lately as well.
Rob Lang on the local charter boat Black and Blue has been putting in a big Winter effort, though.
A few blank trips out as wide as 40 miles looked to have finally paid off when a striped marlin jumped on a lure in green water. All was going well until the fish was boatside and the damn hooks fell out.
A 20kg yellowfin tuna caught later that day was something of a consolation prize, although not as good as a marlin tag.
Because the weather was superb, the plan was to fish for broadbill all night, then troll home the next day. The bait really began to aggregate as the sun went down, with the dolphins really smashing it just outside the arc of the cockpit and underwater lights.
Unfortunately, the only game fish activity after dark resulted in a missed hook-up, but the leader bore the distinctive slice marks of a flailing sword, so they got to shake hands with Mr Xiphias at least.
The Wide Bait Ground continues to hold plenty of slimy mackerel – just watch them disappear when the little blacks show up in Summer, though!
The kingies have been steady, steady at the top end of South Solitary and there have even been a couple of hoodlums hooked in the harbour. No prizes for guessing how that all ended up though…
Of course, if you’ve a mind to escape the winter doldrums, there’s nothing like fishing a new destination, perhaps in western or northern Australia, or overseas.
Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club members Sultan Linjawi and Ralph and Alex Kaiko fished the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament back in August and came a creditable third out of 38 teams.
Of the mostly American competitors, almost none knew where the Solitary Islands were, but that’s certainly all changed now.
In one of the most prestigious game fishing tournaments in the world, to come third at your first attempt is a very big deal. A lot of teams have fished Kona for decades and never even placed in the top three.
A 24kg and 37kg line class event, there’s a minimum marlin weight of 136kg (300lb), under which the marlin has to be tagged and released. The Solitary Islands team had six bites from blues in five days, tagged four, and missed out on second spot only because one fish was tagged on 37kg, while the second place-getters had four on 24kg.
There were two granders hooked, one lost close to the boat after a six-hour fight on 24kg, and the usual jumbo yellowfin tuna, spearfish and wahoo caught.
The heaviest marlin weighed 267kg (588lb) which, along with an earlier tag and release, pushed the Old South Marlin Club into first place.
Just 10.5 hours’ flying time from Sydney, the HIBT is actually a remarkably cheap tournament to fish. Even with the slightly weaker Australian dollar, charter fees are a flat $1000 per boat, accommodation is $120 a night and the tournament entry fee is the only major expense, depending on the numbers in the team.
And it’s calm, always calm. And warm, always warm.
Kona really is the birthplace of skirted lure fishing techniques. If you’re new to blue-water game fishing, there’s no better place to quickly learn about the intricacies of lure spreads, rigging and fighting techniques than in these incredibly deep, blue waters.
Even experienced hands can’t help but pick up a few new ideas when they visit.Reads: 1018