Kona’s Marlin Season Kicks Off

A well-known marlin hot spot is set for a great year of action

hawaii marlin tournament series bwana champs
The 2017 champion team, led by Capt. Teddy Hoogs aboard Bwana, a 46-foot Gamefisherman.Courtesy Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series

With the 2018 tournament season coming up soon, lots of talk turns to where anglers have the best chance of catching the biggest blue marlin in the world. Although some years in Kona are better than others, it is never wise to bet against Hawaii. However, this is one year where betting on Kona may be where the smart money goes.

By now, everyone has heard about the eruption on the lower east flank of Kilauea volcano, on our Big Island of Hawaii. There is no lava or eruption action on the Kona side, so it's life as usual along the leeward coast except the fishing has been better than usual, especially when compared to the first parts of last year.

From New Year’s Eve through May 1, the unofficial count for blue marlin 500 pounds or better appears to be shaping up like this:

  • 500-600pound-class: 21
  • 600-700-pound-class: 18
  • 700-800-pound-class: 10
  • Total: 49

We doubt that this list is comprehensive, and are pretty certain there are more fish we don't know of. Of course, this count does not take in all the marlin smaller than 500 pounds caught so far in 2018. In addition to the rather large ones, nice reports of multiples in one day are also coming in, like the four blues and a spearfish on Blue Hawaii from May 8. Luna was four-for-six on blue marlin recently and went two-for-two on blues on May 5. Sapo has only been fishing for three days in May and has tagged three blues and five spearfish.

bwana wrap tag hawaii billfish tournament series
Captains Teddy Hoogs and Randy Parker from Bwana tag-team a nice blue marlin for angler Rick Shedder.Courtesy Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series

Spearfish are being caught in droves, nice ahi are coming up in the blind and a couple striped marlin larger than 100 pounds, which are big for Kona, have also been reported. Birds and bait are ever increasing so all is well along the Kona coast, fish-wise.

The Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series gets underway on the last weekend of June with the Kona Kick Off tournament. “Million Dollar Week” gets underway in earnest when the Firecracker Open, The Kona Throw Down, the World Cup and the Skins Marlin Derby, all run back to back.

marlin boatside hawaii billfish tournament
Another look at Bwana's blue marlin, which was released at boatside.Courtesy Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series

The Kona Throw Down overlaps one fishing day with the World Cup , as it did last year, resulting in a very large fishing day indeed. The Throw Down will fish the same hours as the World Cup, allowing anglers to fish both tournaments at the same time, as we have done many times in the past when the Firecracker Open landed on the same day as the World Cup. That could yield a memorable pay day for a lucky team.