LAHAINA - The Offshore Hunter brought in the second-largest yellowfin of the year-to-date: a 190.5-pound tuna by owner Capt. Jim Ward. He was fishing with Capt. Randy Kinores.
Even though the weather was a little sketchy, they decided to head to the North Shore of Molokai after ono. They got two ono early in the morning as they worked their way down to Kalaupapa. On the way, they spotted a bunch of birds "working," getting into a small school of mahi. They had a "five banger" going, getting three of them.
Jim made a couple of runs around Kahi'u Point on Kalaupapa, and then headed back uphill a couple of miles and out to the 500-fathom ledge. Out of the blue, they had a blind strike on the long gone position. The fish went down and out. They weren't sure what they had at first.
Captains Randy Kinores (left) and Jim Ward hoist their 190.5-pound tuna.
The fish didn't fight very hard for the first five minutes. It was kind of hectic with just the two of them. With Jim in the chair, Randy put the boat into autopilot. He headed uphill in idle, got a couple of lures cleared and then went back to the helm.
Randy then made a turn in the trough, came back down and cleared a few more lures. He went back to the helm and headed the boat downhill, going to neutral. The fish was far enough behind, so he came back down and cleared the rods out of the way.
The fish started yanking the 100-test line from the short, 80-class rod. It took 300 yards on a steady run, going wherever it wanted to go, never showing itself.
They tried to fight the fish uphill for awhile, but with just two guys, it was almost impossible. Randy had the boat idle ahead to neutral going down-swell.
Randy reversed when he could, maneuvering the boat with the fish down-swell and keeping the line angle straight off the stern. He worked the trough, trying not to get them tossed around too much. The weather wasn't too nice, with 6-8 knots of wind pushing them around.
Every time they got on a swell, Randy tried to back down on the fish. He could only go so far before the line angle got close to the transom. With the short rod, Jim didn't have much clearance from the rod tip to the stern. It was everything Jim could do just working the fish.
They were having a hard time getting it in. Jim was thumbing the spool just trying to gain line, putting maximum drag on the fish. Everything he would gain, the fish would take back out, plus they were getting hit by the big swell.
For the first 30 minutes, they were hoping it was a tuna, because it was making big circles way out behind the boat. But 15 minutes later, it started doing some crazy marlin switchbacks off the stern. They couldn't see color yet.
As Jim gained line, the fish would take out 10-15 feet, doing its big circles again. It was straight behind the boat about 50 yards. As it got closer, it swung out off the port side, and they finally got a good look at it. Randy said, "Whoa, there we go. That's a nice fish. Definitely a tuna. It was awesome."
The first time the swivel came out of the water a couple of feet, Randy came down from the helm to take wraps on the leader. He put the boat idle ahead, but by the time he got to the swivel, the ahi pulled out more line as it continued to circle. Jim was trying to get unhooked from the harness and out of the chair to help Randy.
Randy was trying to "teach" the ahi to swim forward with the boat instead of circling. He finally got it swimming with them off the starboard side. When they finally got the fish within reach, Jim put the rod into the left side gimbal on the chair. The chair swung around toward the starboard side.
When the swivel broke water, Randy put the boat idle forward, came down and grabbed leader. Jim stepped out of the chair, took the hand gaff and stuck the ahi. The fish was tired. It didn't even kick once at the boat.
They opened the stern door and hauled it aboard. It was fun - a good fight, mentioned Jim. This was the very first ahi he has angled in many years of fishing.