The Kona coast on the Big Island of Hawaii is renowned for Pacific blue marlin fishing. Considered the marlin capital of the world, it is home to the blue marlin, a spectacular sword-billed fighting fish. The largest marlin ever caught here weighed over 1,800 pounds!!
Besides marlin, Kona waters are rich with ahi–yellowfin tuna, sword fish, mahimahi, spearfish, aku–skipjack tuna, and ono (wahoo) one of the fastest fish in the ocean. Fish are plentiful year-round but are more numerous in the summer months.
Kona has more than 100 charter fishing boats,and 300 days of sun, making it an excellent place for sports fishing. Most boats leave from Honokohau Harbor, just north of Kailua-Kona. In addition to sunny skies, these fishing grounds boast warm, deep waters, and the ability to hook up a marlin just a short ways from shore.
If you go down to the docks, you can see charter boats returning around 11 a.m. from the morning charters and again around 3:00 in the afternoon. Most boats will fly flags indicating their catch. White flags indicate ahi, blue flags marlin, and inverted flags indicate a catch-and-release trip.
Mornings generally offer the best conditions. Most deep sea fishermen chartering out of Kona are novices, and most charter fishing boats will provide all the necessary fishing gear included in the cost. You can join a charter with others,or, if you have a total of six people in your party, you can charter the boat for yourselves. Remember that most boats do not include food or drink. So, take a lunch and something to drink. And don’t forget the sunscreen.
The Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, held annualy in Kona, however, is a different story. This is the premier event in the world for deep sea sports fishing, with competitors from all over the world. It may not be the best week for a novice fisherman to find a boat for hire, but it is an exciting time. In addition to the competitions, other festivities occur throughout the week. This is the highlight of the year for Hawaii charter fishing.
2006 marks the 47th year of this non-profit tournament. From July 24-28, competitive teams will
gather, lured by the thrill of hooking a prized Pacific blue marlin. For five days, Kailua pier will be the hub of activity. Each day, dozens of boats will line up just outside Kailua Bay awaiting the 7:00 a.m. signal to begin fishing, as a sea of anglers prepare for the thrill of big game tournament fishing.
In order to assure an ongoing supply of these large fish, most Pacific blue marlin are returned to the sea. Thanks to the tournament’s tag-and-release rules, which were implemented in 1986, most catches are tagged with a transponder and then released. The Billfish Association and the Pacific Ocean Research Foundation have been working together to make sure that future generations can enjoy the thrill of deep-sea fishing with an adequate supply of game.
The Kona coast of Hawaii’s Big Island is certainly an exciting place for world-class marlin fishing.