The New Year really started off with several bangs so this report will be a little longer than most. Just like in the beginning of 2012, Kona is the first place in the world to weigh in a “Grander” (over 1000 lbs.) marlin. It happened on January 15th when the boat “Holo Holo” brought in a 1008 lb. Pacific blue marlin. Last year in Kona we weighed in a grander in January and another in February. The anticipation was high for a third grander in March because that’s the best grander month here but March passed, as did several other months before another grander was caught in Kona. Last year there were 4 granders caught in Kona and 3 on Oahu. Just to let you know, most of the really big ones win the fight. With most tackle used here either being 80 or 130 lb. test, that’s an average of about a 10 to 1 ratio. There’s been some striped marlin showing up as is typical for the winter here and like I said last month, the spearfish are in and lately they’ve been a most plentiful catch.
Last month I wrote a bunch about the new Coast Guard regulations and now I’d like to tell you about another law that just passed a few months ago. The Billfish Conservation Act prohibits the sale of billfish (except broadbill). To be more exact, “No person shall offer for sale, sell, or have custody, control, or possession of for purposes of offering for sale or selling billfish or products containing billfish.” For many years now it has been illegal to sell Atlantic caught billfish so the commercial fishermen were simply labeling the fish as Pacific caught and selling them anyway. On top of that, the United Sates has been the biggest importer of billfish in the world. That now ends! There is still one little loophole though, Hawaii has been exempted from the new law. Billfish are commonly eaten in Hawaii and it is part of our heritage. I’ve mentioned it several times over the years in my reports that spearfish, striped marlin and smoked blue marlin are all good eating but we catch plenty of our own here so I doubt there will be much, if any importing of marlin to Hawaii going on.
We’re still seeing some mahi mahi around along with a few tuna and ono. The bottom bite hasn’t been all that good using live/dead or cut bait but Jigging has been fairly successful. While jigging, the most common catch is a variety of “jacks”. I started tagging jacks like amberjack, almaco jack (that I’m credited with discovering in Hawaiian waters) and an assortment of trevally (also in the jack family) in 1999 because the science was that they live in one section of reef their whole life. Since I fish the same waters often, I was wondering how many times I was catching the same fish over and over again. The tags I started with were from an old snapper tagging program and I used those to tag just under 200 fish. The State Dept. of Aquatic Resources called me after finding out that I was the one tagging the jacks and they wanted to know how many fish I had tagged in Hilo, on the other side of the island. None! They were all tagged on the Kona side of the Big Island. That prompted them to initiate a State wide jack tagging program. In October of 2004 I had tagged jack #1000 and though it’s taken quite a while, this month I tagged #2000! That’s a lot of fish tagged and released and the information gathered by the tagging program proved almost all of the previous (so called) science to be made up B.S. They were shocked to find out that the jacks even travel between islands. One amberjack that I caught a few years back was tagged over 1000 miles from Kona and grew from about 8 lbs. to 75 lbs. in 8 years. The State tagging program officially ended last summer so no more tags will be issued. I have about 50 tags left and then that will be the end of the tagging. Of all the captains in the State of Hawaii that participated, I am the top tagging captain in the whole State. Yes, I’m bragging
Another really cool thing happened this month. Smoke from the volcano called “VOG” is common in Kona. It restricts visibility and is sometimes so thick that you can barely make out the shore line from just a few miles out. Other times the volcano isn’t so active and visibility is pretty good but the VOG is still here unless strong winds or heavy rain take it away. It’s usually back shortly after but this month we were treated to a whole week with no VOG at all. Visibility was well over 100 miles. To top it off, the seas were very calm, humpback whales leaping in the air (breaching) and the fish bite was on! Not to mention an air temp. of just over 80 degrees and the most awesome sunsets of anywhere in the world. It reminded me of how great it is to live here. The VOG is back now but it was sure pretty while it lasted.
I’m going to wrap up this report with something not fishing related but definitely something EVERYONE needs to know. That is if you have a business that accepts credit cards or you use credit cards to purchase anything. A new law was just passed (yes another one). As a merchant that accepts credit cards, it was illegal for me to pass on any of the processing fees that I was charged to process the credit cards. Those charges average about 3% and go even higher for processing a credit card from out of the country. If the credit card companies found out that you were charging any extra for someone using their card or offering a cash discount, they could revoke your processing privileges. Even in a small business like mine, I’ve been spending thousands each year in processing fees and I’ve just had to eat the loss. The new law says that I can now charge up to 4% extra if you use a credit card. Not just me, ALL business that accept credit cards. Target was the first big chain store to step up and say that did not intend to pass on any fees but you can bet that when the news becomes more widely known, there will be many retailers who will start charging if you use a credit card. I’m not sure exactly when I will start charging for using a credit card but I know it will be soon. I’m thinking another option might just be to offer a cash discount because that sounds better than adding another surcharge. Just when you thought that we were on our way to becoming a cashless society