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Charter Boat Narrative - Kona

While many people will argue at length over where the best place in the world is to go fishing, it is purely speculation and opinion when a conclusion is reached. One fact does remain, however, is that Kona is one of the top five destinations around the world for Billfishing, and more specificly, Kona is world-renowned for the number of giant Blue Marlin raised every day, year after year.

While the Kona coast is legendary for its Marlin production, what may be difficult for you is trying to find the right boat. There are a couple of hundred boats in Honokohau Harbor, and over a hundred refer to themselves as "charter boats." There about seventy-five running a fairly consistent operation, some of which advertise, some of which have websites, and some of which rely on foot traffic in the harbor to sell their trips. There are also, however, a group that rely on less forthright means to obtain charters (i.e. standing at the back of other boats and trying to snag passengers by offering a lower rate at the last minute), and we sincerely hope you do not encounter one of these individuals on your vacation.

At the outset, we will tell you something that may not be readily known; if you want to go fishing for Blue Marlin in Kona for practically nothing, you can do it. Our suggestion, if this is what you wish to do, is to simply go to the harbor while you are in town and work out your best deal with the boat of your choice. Do not waste your time reading this preview, do not go to any other websites, and do not even bother to call around. You will find a boat ready to take you fishing at the slightest flash of some cash, and the price will usually be better than anything you can accomplish by any pre-trip planning. What you may find, however, is the trip was not what you bargained for, and you may even feel cheated. honokohou.jpg (75881 bytes)
You are going to be on vacation while visiting Hawaii. After working all year, this is your chance to enjoy yourself. You are looking for a good time, some relaxation, and some fun in the sun. When you get back on the plane and talk with your colleagues about what you did while in Hawaii, you want the experience to have been positive. Three months after the trip, all that will remain is the memory, and that vision is what will bring you back to try it all again. You won’t remember spending a little more money on a trip with a friendly knowledgable skipper, but you’ll sure remember the decision to try and save a little money and then spending time at sea wondering if you were even going to make it back home, much less catch a fish.

That’s what our service is all about. We have chosen a few boats which we think will provide you a great time regardless of whether or not you catch a fish. The fishery speaks for itself, and the numbers are there. No boat can guarantee a fish and most of the boats have an equal chance of landing something big, so now it’s time for you to think about the experience. Take a moment to think about the following aspects of your trip and decide if you want to risk the memory value of your vacation by saving a few dollars.

1) Is the boat safe? The water off Kona is over 6,000 feet deep only a couple miles offshore, and while most of the time the water is calm, nothing comes to mind that is more frightening than the prospect of going to sea on a boat that feels unsafe. Look for things on the boat that are worn out, unkept, or excessively dirty. These are sure signs of an improperly maintained vessel, and postponed maintenance is the mark of a skipper who doesn’t care about your memories.

2) Is the tackle in good shape? Ask a scientist about the strain that is placed on a fishing line when a big fish takes off and you’ll know how important good gear is. The most important part of the gear is the line that is connected to the rod side of the swivel and the first 50 feet. If your skipper postpones the stripping back and/or replacement of the line every so often as a means of saving money, it’s an indication of a skipper who doesn’t care about your memories. How will you know if he hasn’t taken every measure to ensure a minimum of equipment failures? If you lose a fish which could have been the moment of a lifetime, the skipper may tell you the fish was just too big or feisty when actually the line was too old.

3) Are the skipper and crew polite and thoughtul? Remember, your trip is going to last at least four hours, and more likely eight. Although we always recommend doing a full day because the best chance to catch a fish is obtained by the theory of TOW (Time On Water) and because the skipper has so many more options to try on a full day, even a four hour trip can be horrible if you are spending time with an unfriendly person who doesn’t care about your safety, comfort, or good spirits. The personality of the skipper is of high importance, and we have interviewed every one of our skippers to make sure they care about your trip.

4) Is there any shade on board? The ability to get out of the sun is a very important consideration. The Kona sun can be intense, and sitting in it all day like an egg in a frying pan can make for a pretty uncomfortable day. It can even keep you from staying fresh and enthusiastic for the moment a fish strikes, and may make you lethargic enough to stop studying the lures and making a move that could result in the only strike of the day. Air conditioning is nice, but if going inside makes the horizon disappear, the side effect could be sickness. We recommend you select a boat that is large enough and has a covered area to provide comfortable refuge from the sun for several hours at a time. The boat should be able to provide you the opportunity to feel like you are sitting on your front patio but with an ever changing view.

5) Does the skipper agree with your desire to catch and release Billfish or cut up some Mahi-Mahi filets for you to eat? Many boats offer low charter rates because they will sell 100% of what is caught on board. Just imagine how you’d feel after reeling a smaller Billfish up to the boat, asking the skipper to release it, and watching him lay in the gaff as you are pushed aside. Or imagine how you’d feel expecting a nice Mahi or Ono filet at the end of the day only to have the fish removed from the boat before you even knew you were back to the harbor. Fairness is a good judgment of your skipper, and you’ll know if you have a fair one right away.

Sportfish Hawaii is committed to selling the skipper first, the boat second, and the fishing third. Go for quality, and we think you’ll end up going home with a smile on your face instead of a scowl on your sunburned body - regardless of how many you catch.

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Looking down the mountain over Honokohau Marina



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