Record Ahi for Gary Nardi Aboard the Fire Hatt

Gary Nardi's 235 Pound Yellowfin tunaRecord Ahi for Gary Nardi Aboard the Fire Hatt.  Gary Nardi and his Father In-Law, Bill Chase from Northern CA have been fishing the Kona Hawaii Tournaments for years going back to the 70’s.  Having been aboard many boats over the years, we were delighted to have them as team mates for the World Cup Marlin Tournament and the Fire Cracker Open this year.  They brought along a nice collection of old stand by proven lures from their arsenal to pull.   The World Cup left us with out a Marlin.  We had one nice strike and the fish did not stick….  This did not phase our team.  Gary and Bill returned two days later with the same enthusiasim and the game was on!  With lures set, including a favorite chrome jet of theirs on the stinger.  (A friend of theirs caught an 1100 pound Marlin on one just like it, so they have complete faith in it.)  Sure enough,  our first bite of the day…on the stinger, on their chrome jet!  Gary fights the fish to the boat and knowing the feel of the fish, he knows it is probably an Ahi.  A beautiful 111 pound Yellowfin Tuna is boated and we are on the board for day one.  With spirits high, we are now on day two of the Tournament.  We set our pattern and wait.  We had an early bite that did not stick.  Then just after 3:00pm the long rigger line is bit. We are Hooked Up!  The fish took an old Joe Yee Mini Plunger.  Line is screaming off and Gary once again is in the chair.  It is a much heavier fish than the day before and in just a short 20 minute fight the fish is to the boat.  With Adam at leader and Linda at gaff, we have boated what is clearly a tournament contender and a new boat record for Yellowfin Tuna.  The Ahi weighs in at 235 pounds taking the Dailies for day two in the Ahi division.  The biggest Ahi of the tournament was caught by Team Maui Jim weighing in at 236.5 pounds.  So close!

Featured in the photo representing AFTCO as one of their Pro Teams is Captain Chuck Wilson, First Mate Adam Ludwig and Second Mate Linda Wilson along with team mates Gary Nardi and Bill Chase.

Tenatious Fight by 9 Year Old Aidan Hunter Lands Blue Marlin

Justin and Lenora Hunter are completing a full year of traveling around the world with their two sons.  Fishing in Kona Hawaii is one of their last trips before heading to Alaska.   9 year old Aidan and 12 year old Zach are experiencing opportunities of a life time while getting to fish in places like South Africa and various other destinations in the South Pacific.  Having caught some impressive fish along the way, they could only dream about hooking a Pacific Blue Marlin.  They Did!  We left the harbor at 7:00 am for a 3/4 day charter and headed South towards Captain Cook.  They enjoyed a beautiful snorkel in the bay and anxiously got back to the boat to continue the quest.  So far we did not even get a bite.  The boys are begining to look at Me and Adam and Mom and Dad giving the “Where’s the fish?” look. No pressure there… On our way back up the line just after noon, the long rigger line is bit and line is screaming!  The Ice Blue Lucky Linda Lure comes through for us again, we are Hooked Up!  It is a Blue Marlin and 9 year old Aidan is in the chair.  With lines cleared and Adam at his side, the battle begins.  I was so amazed at the tenacity of this young man!  He fought sooo hard.  After about fifteen minutes Aidan gave his older brother Zach an opportunity in the chair.  Knowing this was Aidan’s fish, Zach lets Aidan back in the chair to finish the fight.  This fish was to the boat quickly, we had it to leader two times and had to let go. On the third try we were able to successfully get the hook out and release a nice healthy fiesty Pacific Blue Marlin.  We estimated Aidan’s fish to be about 400 pounds.  This crushes the family record Marlin held by Aidan’s Grandfather, a 300+ pounder.  I think the bar has been set quite high for Zach now!

Featured in photo above is Adam Ludwig with Aidan’s Pacific Blue Marlin to leader wearing AFTCO Release Gloves.  The Lucky Linda Lure is by Bomboy Lures.

Newlywed Couple Enjoy Two Days of Fishing and Catching

This Newlywed Couple Enjoyed Two Days of Fishing and Catching!  Sharon and Andrew Woodruff, both engineers from the Philadelphia, PA area spent a little over two weeks on the Islands.  First stop was Maui where they spent a week touring and enjoying a little down time.  Then here to Kona for more adventure and a little deep sea  fishing.  The first day out we found the jackpot.  We had heard of bait holding at C Buoy and headed there.  Not to be disappointed!  We picked up several on the troll and then changed over and did several deep drops. We had a wonderful day pulling in 11 small Tunas. The largest tuna was brought in by Sharon and was about 15 pounds.  Adam was happy to fillet the tunas and send them home with Sharon and Andrew to enjoy.  The next day they called back and having decided that was the most fun they’d had on their trip so far, they wanted to go out again.  Later in the week we went out on another trip.  Today we headed offshore to an area where we had some activity the previous day.   The first part of the day was a little slow and we commented that we just want a bite!  Soon after that the bite turned on!  Sharon is on the first fish of the day!  We have a nice Mahi Mahi to the boat .   With lines back in the water we stay in the area and make a few more passes and we soon have another bite!  Andrew is in the chair and lands the Mahi Mahi in just minutes.  His is not as big as Sharon’s….see a pattern here?  I go with Lady Luck every day of the week!   As we were leaving the area and heading back to the harbor we had yet another chance.  We are Hooked Up again!  Sharon brings in the last fish of the day and she holds the record for the largest fish each day!  Their hopes were to catch the prized pacific Blue Marlin. I’m thinking there may have been a challenge proposed for the next time they come to Kona.  They sent us a nice message before leaving the Island headed home to PA and told us they had a great time and it was definitely one of the highlights of their honeymoon.  We hope to see them for many Anniversaries to come…

Featured in the photo is Sharon and Andrew Woodruff along with our deckhand Adam Ludwig, Kona Family Fishing at its finest!

Fire Hatt is a member of the AFTCO Pro Fishing Team


Big Sky Big Ocean

Big Sky Big Ocean for this family from Big Sky, Montana.  John and Laura Michel were here on the Big island visiting our neighbors Bruce and Kathy Wilson.  The four of them, long tme friends and business partners were hoping for a little action and maybe a food fish to take home.  For John, his biggest fish until now had been a Trout.  Not just any trout, but a 22″ Rainbow caught in Yellowstone Lake.  There was not a lot of action early in the day.  Linda was in the glasses looking for a floater that was reported earlier that morning around the area where “F” Buoy used to be.  On the horizon, we could see about six boats in that area and assumed they got the same information.  On the way to check it out we came through an area with a little life and birds.  Jackpot!  The long rigger line is bit.  John takes position in the chair and the fight is on.  There is a little weight there and we are thinking small tuna?  Then the fish shows itself and we see it’s a nice Shortbill Spearfish!  John has the fish to the boat in just a few minutes and Adam skillfully gaffs it and in the boat it comes.  We have the food fish they wanted.  With lines back in the water we are on our way to check out the area we were headed to.  As we approach we can see porpoise.  We made several passes and did not get any action.  With that, we left the area and tried to find the reported floater.  As we headed back north towards the harbor, the short rigger is bit, we are hooked up again!  This time Bruce was supposed to be in the chair.  The line was screaming and Bruce was not in the chair yet.  Soooo, John jumps in the chair and begins to fight the fish thinking he will give up the rod when Bruce get there.  Not so much!  John lands the nice Mahi Mahi and now has two of the biggest fish of his life, his first two Flag Fish and alot of memories to take home.  There was some mention of a new nickname for John…something like “Rod Hog”.  It was all in good fun and it turns out, Bruce did not want to bring in a fish, he wanted his friend to enjoy the opportunity to fish the beautiful Kona waters.  Truly a Family Fishing experience.

Featured in the photos above are Bruce and Kathy Wilson from Kona, Hawaii and Laura and John Michel from Big Sky, Momtana

Fire Hatt is a member of the AFTCO Pro Fishing Team

Family Fishing Adventure Aboard Fire Hatt

Family Adventure Aboard Fire Hatt.  Mark Nikkel from Chicago, his father John and his father in law Wilber, both from Michigan joined us last week for a day of family fishing.  Mark has fished with us in the past and he landed a nice 450 pound Blue Marlin.  Now returning with his family, he wanted to give it another try…maybe something bigger?  With that said, we head out.  Reports from the few days prior told us that it was lumpy up north on the “grounds” so I headed south.  It was a pretty quiet morning with no action.  Then mid day, just off Captain Cook  about 1:30 in the afternoon one of the rigger lines came down.  Nothing forcefull, it acted like a rubber band failure.  While Adam was putting that line back up, the stinger came down pretty hard.  I could see a fish still tracking the lure and Adam immediately started to tease it.  We are Hooked Up!  The Marlin took the absolute smallest lure in the pattern.  A small slender bullet made by Al Bento.  The fish was fought on a Ken Matsuura 50 with 130 lb Amalon mono.   With lines cleared and his Father the chair, the battle is on!  John fought the fish for about 45 minutes and then turned the fight over to Wilber.  Wilber fought the fish to the end.  Total fight time was 1 hour 40 minutes.  Both of these fishermen are 75 years old!  Until now, the largest fish for these men was a 40 pound Salmon.  Once Adam got the fish to leader, we gave Mark the honor of setting the first gaff shot.  I placed the second gaff and the three of us pulled the trophy on board.

A Grand Time Aboard Fire Hatt

A Grand Time Aboard Fire Hatt.  This is my first day back on the boat in twelve days.  I was on the mainland teaching my Fire Department classes and could not wait to get back on the water.  While I was away, I had a backup Captain, Lloyd Potter.  Every day I would check in with him and Adam and tell them both “NO GRANDERS!”  They just chuckled and went fishing.  Today I had double charters. I took a family to Captain Cook in the morning for a snorkel/fishing trip.  I brought those guests back to the harbor without having a bite all morning.  We did see a fabulous display from a mighty Humpback Whale though.  With the afternoon guests on board for a four hour trip, we head back out.  Salil Kharat just wanted to catch something!  Being from the Folsom, CA area, Salil loves to fish.  Having caught his share of  Trout and other species, he wanted at least a food fish today.  He brought along his wife and two little girls for a family fishing day who waited almost the whole trip for some action.  Salil’s oldest daughter told her Mom she was praying for a fish for her Dad.  With only a half hour left and heading back to the harbor, I saw something slashing the water ahead of me.  I went to check it out….now the short rigger line is screaming.  We are Hooked Up!  The fish exploded and ran fiercely.  Saul is in the chair fighting the fish of a lifetime.   The line  ripped off the reel in seconds and I had to turn the boat an chase the fish to get line back.   A fter a two hour fight on a Ken Matsuura 50 reel spooled with a topshot of 130lb mono with 650 yards of backing, we have subdued the fish.  We are all overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Marlin.  Adam leadered the fish and held her while I gaffed.  After several minutes and a come-along, we have the fish through the transom door and we are headed to the scales.  1,058 pounds later, we have our Pacific Blue Marlin Grander!  Salil has the greatest fishing story ever and his family have memories of a lifetime!  All is good in paradise!

Banner Day Aboard Fire Hatt

Banner Day Aboard Fire Hatt.  It just doesn’t get better than this!  Heather and Rob Dawson from Kamloops, Canada spend a few weeks a year here fishing in Kona.  The Dawson’s own a boat and are avid fishermen at home.  This year the two of them put in three full days of fishing.  The first day did not even produce one bite!  It has been a frustratiing couple of months for fishing here in Kona.  the bite has definately been off.  A few fish being caught each day is all that has been reported.  Every year that the Dawson’s arrive, Rob announces that he wants to go Shark Hunting.  A few years back we landed Rob a 300+ pound White Tip Shark that we tagged and released.  Last year we did not produce one for him.  So this year he wants to try again.  So on this day we head way south to “UU Buoy” to give it a try.  We head out and will troll to the area and hope to at least catch them a food fish on the way.  Then just10 minutes out of the harbor we are Hooked Up!  Four lines are screaming! A quadruple Stiped Marlin Bite!   Heather is in the chair and Rob is deciding what line HE wants.  Rob gets his fish to the boat first and it is successfully tagged and released.  The fish is estimated at about 50 pounds.  Heather brings her fish to the boat after about a 10 minute fight.  Hers is also successfully tagged and released.  Her fish is the bigger of the two estimated at about 80 pounds.  This is Heather’s first billfish ever.  Nice Work by these two anglers.  With lines back in the water we are under way for the anticipated shark encounter.  We are hooked up again.  Heather is in the chair and this time she lands her first Shortbill Spearfish.  Now we arrive at the buoy and there are a few boats fishing the area so we know there are bait fish around.  We stop outside of them and begin to put chum in the water and within a few short minutes we have our first shark sighting.  Looks like a White Tip Shark.  We bait a single hook and offer it.  One bump, two bumps, a short run and the bait is gone.  We try again and after about an hour, we have another visitor.  All we see is a big dark shape in the water and it is interested in the bait.  Again, the fish bumps the bait a few times, takes it for a short run and we set the hook.  Rob is in the chair with a huge grin on his face.  He got his Shark.  When we got it to the side of the boat, we were surprised to see that it was a “Blue Shark”.  They are known to be in the area, but not seen that often.  Rob wanted to be the one to release it, so with assistance from Adam our crewman, he held the leader and let Rob cut him loose. We photographed the fish and successfully released it back into the deep!  The score at the end of the day…Three Striped Marlin Releases, one Boated Shortbill Spearfish and one Released Blue Shark.  A Banner Day!

Big Kahuna nets a Big Ka-tuna Kona Fishing

Chet Chiara, a retired Fire Captain from Anchorage Alaska, spends many days a year here in Kona fishing, hoping for the Big One.  On this day, we decided to head off shore.  Armed with two pair if Gyros, we scanned the horizon for a Porpoise School or a “Floater”.  With just Linda and I on board today, we were quite excited about what this day might bring.  Then, I heard those three words from Linda that get me going!  “I got something!”  I then look to see what direction she is viewing and turn the boat.   She gives me an estimate on distance and tells me what she sees.  This time she sees splashing about three miles out.  A porpoise shcool with no one around!  We changed out lures to smaller ones and made our first pass.  We are Hooked Up!  The Short Rigger line is bit!  Oh, and it is the “Lucky Linda Lure”.  Chet is in the chair and the battle begins.  After a twenty minute fight, Chet has his prize to the boat.  A 97 pound Yellowfin Tuna!  His biggest tuna to date.  Chet, an avid hunter and fisherman, will definately add this trophy to his collection.  Chet has been Kona fishing for 20 years and always anticipates capturing a new personal record.  Chet was on Fire Hatt when we got the 978.5 pound Pacific Blue Marlin in 2011.  We consider him a good luck charm.


Jeffrey’s Fish of a Lifetime is Caught in Kona Hawaii

Jeffrey’s Fish of a Lifetime is caught in Kona Hawaii. Jeffrey and Katie Fogel along with Katie’s parents, Greg and Bernadette Zemenick boarded Fire Hatt hoping for a fun trip and a wonderful experience. Since it was Jeffrey’s first fishing trip, the family all agreed that he would be first in the chair.  The water was flat and calm so we headed north to the “grounds”.   After trolling for about an hour we had our first strike. The long rigger line is screaming!  We are hooked up! Jeffrey quickly made his way down from the bridge and began reeling in his first fish, after a short fight, he has a 40lb Shortbill Spearfish to the boat!  By the way, the hit was on one of the boats favorite lures, the “Lucky Linda” on a Ken Matsuura reel spooled with 50lb test line.   This was Jeffrey’s first fish…ever!  How exciting.  Crewman Chet Chiara from Anchorage, AK was on board today and did an awesome job subduing the fish.  Jeffrey grew up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, spent his undergrad years at Harvard and then pursued a PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Michigan. Now he is a management consultant at a firm in Princeton, NJ.  As you can imagine he didn’t have a great deal of free time for fishing while growing up.

Not long after Jeffrey landed the spearfish we had another strike.  This time it is Katie in the chair. The fish hit the short rigger line and then moved on to take the stinger line.  We are hooked up again!  This time it is a Pacific Blue Marlin.   Katie got in the chair, snapped herself in and began reeling.   Although Katie wanted to catch the Marlin she didn’t want to injure it.   She also began lamenting the fact that she didn’t want the fish to have a heart attack or be injured.  Sooo, not too long after she voiced her concerns the Marlin opted for self-preservation and spit the hook.  Needless to say she was disappointed but at the same time relieved that the fish did get away.  Katie, who is a Pediatric Orthopedic Physician Assistant in Neptune, NJ has been fishing since she was a child and has a special love of deep sea fishing.  It has always been Katie’s dream to catch a marlin and there it was.   As for Greg and Bernadette, they enjoyed the show, loved watching their daughter and son-inlaw fight fish and making lasting memories of their family fishing trip in Kona Hawaii.  I think we will see them again soon.

Big Island, Big Fish II

Big Island, Big Fish II.  Russ and Debra Whitman from Redondo Beach, CA.  Avid fishermen and boat owners have been fishing in Kona for many years.  Over that time they have caught their share of nice fish here.  This year they invited their long time friends Howard and Dianne from the Oxnard, CA area to join them.  This is their first time to fish in Kona.  As they all boarded the Fire Hatt this day, they are joking about what they want to catch.  Of course a nice Pacific Blue Marlin is on order.  After leaving the harbor and heading straight offshore, we have our first bite.  The long rigger line is bit, we are Hooked Up!  Howard is in the chair first and proudly brings in a nice 8+ pound Ahi.  He is so proud and I think this is the largest fish he has ever caught.  The mood on the boat is quite festive and the lines are back in thw water now to try for another fish for Dianne.  As we approach “F Buoy” we notice a few birds on the outside of the buoy and go to take a look.  We made a pass through the are and saw good marks on the meter and in a matter of seconds the stinger line is bit and again line is screaming off the reel. We are Hooked Up Again!  Dianne is in the chair and this fight is a little different than the first one.  The line goes tight and she begins to struggle to bring in the fish.  We know this is a nice one.  After about a 20 minute battle, her fish is to the boat.  Russ Whitman was the Gaff Man, assisting our deckhand Adam who leadered the fish and held it for Russ to stick.  With the fish secured on board high fives were flying.  Nice teamwork!  We brought Diannes prize to the weigh dock and found the Yellowfin to weigh 126 pounds.  This is the biggest fish she has ever caught or seen.  I think this will be a Christmas she will not soon forget.