Jon Schwartz here reporting from Kona, Hawaii on the HIBT (Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament) results for day one. I witnessed some great marlin fishing action, including one boat that had two on at the same time!
I don't have all the stats for today, I was so busy taking photos that all I know is what I saw from the press boat. Above you see a team of anglers from some far off country (New Zealand maybe) getting ready to tag a marlin. People have gotten the impression over the years that the fishing scene is Kona is all about keeping the marlin and bringing them back to the docks. That is a falsehood. Yes, fish are kept, but most are tagged and released. (In fact, if you are really concerned about protecting billfish stocks, go to The Billfish Foundation, a non profit that is dedicated to maintaining healthy billfish stocks worldwide, and learn about what what is really doing the damage to big fish stocks, which is longlining)
Look at the guys above. The marlin that their anglers had caught had gotten tangled in the leader, aka "tail wrapped". They brought it in and carefully cut the line off of the fish and then the mate took great pains to revive the fish behind the boat. It swam away in great shape.
Let's talk about how the day started. Anglers showed up with big smiles and boarded the boats that they drew for today; remember, everyone gets an equal chance at fishing on every boat here at the HIBT; no ringers.
The fishermen then boarded the fabled Kona fishing fleet and set out for glory, prestige, and sport:
A real Hawaiian priest came and blessed the 2010 HIBT, reciting Hawaiian prayers over the VHF for all the anglers to hear.
An hour or so into the contest, we got a call that the Korean Angling team, on the Northern Lights with Kona Captain Kevin Nakamaru, had TWO marlin on at the same time. One guy was even on the side of the boat reeling one in. Did I say two marlin at the same darn time? We raced over to investigate!
Sure enough it was true. And not only that, a kid was manning the tag stick! No joke here though, he turned out to be super qualified and did the job of 40 one man easily and with panache. They tagged the smaller one and let it go. It might have looked just like this blue marlin below that I photographed last year in Kona. It too had just been tagged and was swimming back home to, uh, wherever it calls home. I don't bring my underwater camera equipment and fins on press boats because the contestants would scream at me if I caused them to lose a fish while I swam around in the water!
Captain Kevin then backed down hard to enable their angler to reel in the other one, which was much bigger. Behold the mighty power of those engines!
I have a ton of really cool images from today's event but I am going to have to wait till another day to post them because I need to get my stuff ready for tomorrow. I do have times to share a couple more things that I think you might find interesting:
The above is what's called a "floater"- a log or a net or piece of something out in the middle of nowhere. EVERYONE loves seeing these things when they are trolling around for fish. They attract tiny organisms that attract small fish that attract bigger fish that attract huge fish. If a boat finds a floater, they'll spend time seeing if there are any big predators lurking around. There often are!
One of the most common sport fish that love to congregate around these FADs ( fish attracting devices, I think) are mahi mahi, aka dorado, or for you East Coasters, "dolphin fish". Sometimes there may be hundreds of them around a floater, and if you fish there it can be 'wide open' action.
The above is ( how did you guess?) a sailfish. They are great fun on light tackle and people travel to exotic destinations like Guatemala, Panama, and Costa Rica to tussle with them. Some of them might be landed here at the HIBT but they will be quickly released and the anglers will be in a hurry to move on; they won't put up much of a fight on the beefy marlin tackle they use here at the HIBT and don't earn the anglers as many points, if I remember correctly. Can you guess why they are called sailfish? See below:
Also check my blog here about The Great Marlin Race because I will be talking about this exciting marriage of sport, science, and conservation via a collaboration between marine scientists and the HIBT. In a nutshell, these important marine scientists including Doctors Randy Kochevar and George Shillinger have come here to Kona to implant satellite tracking tags in marlin that are released. They then monitor these fish with the tags as they swim around, and whoever sponsored the sat tag on the fish that travelled the farthest in 180 days wins!
Above is the tag they insert in the fish. below is how they insert the tag. Then they let the fish go and it swims, as my 4 year old daughter Leilani would say, "Far, far away...." One fish swam over 2000 miles in 90 days.!That helps us learn about and protect billfish.
Below is Bob Kurz, he is here as an angler and also as the Great Marlin Race Director.
I figured I might pitch in to the Great Marlin Race by donating some photography so I told them, (and I am telling you!) if you sponsor a tag by contacting The Great Marlin Race, I will hook you up with some rare fine art fishing photography. You can even pick the species, including black, blue, striped marlin, mahi, tuna, sailfish, and sharks. Come on down!
Be sure to get the results of day two of the HIBT by checking in later on Tuesday. I'll be on the water all day hoping to witness some more great big game fun, and then I'll be blogging again after I get off the boat!