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Kona Hawaii fishing report - July wrap-up

Capt. Jeff Rogers
July 29, 2012
Kona - Saltwater Fishing Report

Kona Hawaii fishing report – July wrap-up .

The summer marlin bite finally kicked in to gear this month proving Hawaii to be the blue marlin capital of the world….. or, tied? The World Cup Blue Marlin Championship held of July 4th each year has kind of been the measuring stick for the title of "blue marlin capital of the world". In 2010 Hawaii found itself tied with Bermuda with 6 World Cup wins each but then Hawaii won it in 2011. This year Bermuda won it so we're back to a tie. We have several tournaments going on in the summer months here and the number of marlin being caught in them is indeed impressive.

In last month's wrap-up I wrote about the "blind strike" yellowfin tuna bite and that's still going strong. I also made the statement that "Ahi populations here have been on the rise over the past several years". Many people went to my March 2011 archived report and read about my theory as to why there was such an increase to the population even though recent advances in fishing methods (extremely large purse seines) seem like it would devastate the yellowfin tuna population in a short time. To make a long story short, my theory is that because the yellowfin tuna are not being harvested out of the nets right away but left in them for an extended period of time, they're breeding within the confines of the net. Because of the close proximity of the fish within the net, more eggs are getting fertilized than would normally happen in the wild resulting in a rise in the yellowfin population instead of a decrease. So, for those reading this that think I'm full of it, wrong, just dreaming or that yellowfin populations are still in big trouble, I got this to say. The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is the organization that assesses fish stock sustainability. Their ratings (simplified) are Green – ‘Stocks are healthy', Yellow – ‘Stocks are in danger of being overfished' and Orange – ‘stocks are being overfished'. The ISSF just this month changed the status of yellowfin tuna from Orange to Green! I don't want to diminish the hard work done by the several agencies that strive to protect any fish stocks from being overfished but now I have another concern. Several agencies have put a lot of effort into designing regulations that would restrict the catch and sale of yellowfin tuna. Trying to make their regulation ideas into law has been a long and tedious battle with only limited success but now that there's no more enemy to fight, I wonder if they will continue to try to pass restricting fishing regulations based solely on the time, effort and resources they have put into trying to pass those new regulations even though there is now no longer a need for them?

Even though it's not mahi mahi season, several have been caught this month. The ono bite is a bit slow for summer but putting in the time and effort will usually get rewarded. Some spearfish are still coming in as the peak season for them comes to a close. The big skipjack tuna's (otaru or otado) are in and though in many places around the world these tuna are not really considered an eating fish, here in Hawaii they are a highly prized eating fish by the locals. I think it has something to do with their diet while in our local waters that makes them taste good. When reading the ISSF's tuna reports I found out that more than half of the tuna caught and consumed in the world is skipjack. I also noted that their status is also Green.

I haven't been doing much bottom fishing lately because the trolling bite has been so good and the bottom bite has been a bit slow but I did want to finish up this month's report with some more regulation information. Hawaii implemented its first ever bottom fishing regulations several years ago because of pressure from the Feds. The Feds wanted a 15% reduction in our bottom fish catch and with very few regulations; Hawaii achieved a 17% reduction. The Feds got greedy and then asked for a 25% reduction. Hawaii then enacted a closed season and a ‘total allowable catch' (TAC) limit. There really wasn't a need for this as the science used to access the catch effort was highly flawed. Our DAR ‘estimated' the recreation catch of our snapper and grouper at 2 to 3 times that of the commercial catch. Anyone with half a brain would know that the recreational catch of our bottom fish was in no way that high. You have to report your commercial catch here but the recreational catch (until recently) was not reported so the ‘estimate' was really a wild guess. They also didn't take into consideration the many areas of pristine bottom fish areas that are almost never fished. Bottom fishing for snapper and grouper is a meager way to eke out a living here and is mostly done on very small boats by more elderly people. I figured that with the new regulations, many of these guys would just give up doing it and move on to some other way to make money and I was right. While the big commercial operations still exist, I don't see anywhere near the number of small boats on the bottom fishing grounds as there once were. This year when the bottom fishing season closed, only about 2/3 of the TAC had been landed. Again, I don't want to diminish the hard work done by the several agencies that strive to protect our fish stocks from being overfished and, as far as our bottom fishery is concerned, the officials have been adjusting the regulations as they collect better data but I think it might be time to let the small boat guys go back to full time again.

See ‘ya on the water ,
Capt. Jeff Rogers ,

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