LAHAINA - The Reel Luckey brought in a new Lahaina Harbor record ono, one that had stood for over 30 years, weighing in at 90.2 pounds by George Austin. He was fishing with Capt. Tad Luckey, deckman Brian Edmisson and fishing partner Tom Benedetti.
They were fishing between "Containers" and "Shipwreck" at a spot called "The Rock Pile" on the north side of Lanai. Tad started on the Shipwreck side of Containers and worked the area in and out from about 75-150 feet of water, back and forth. They had an ono come up on them on the spot, so Tad turned around and made one more pass.
Tad was running a downrigger and two flat lines, one short and one long, using live opelu as bait. They had a triple-bite, with all three Shimano Stella spinning reels going off at the same time. "Everything happened like boom, boom, boom," said Tad. All three rods were smoking off the 65-pound test Power Pro braid line, with all three fish making long, 200-yard runs.
From left, George Austin, Capt. Tad Luckey and deckman Brian Edmisson with their 90.2-pound ono. PHOTO BY
The downrigger fish came off on the initial run, with the other two surface lines holding their fish. Tad was maneuvering the boat around, in and out of gear, trying to get Tom's shorter distance fish in, because it was coming in first. Brian had to have Tom and Brian switch corners, moving the rods over and under so the lines wouldn't get tangled.
They didn't even worry about Brian's fish. Tad told him to keep the line tight, and "We'll be with you in a minute." They had him over on the port side for about 15 minutes - as he "babied" his fish - while they worked on Tom's fish. They didn't want to have both fish coming in at the same time, get the lines tangled and break them off.
As soon as they got Tom's ono in, George started to work on his fish. He still wasn't getting much line, so Brian bumped up the drag a little bit, putting a little more pressure on it. The fish started to slowly come in.
As they got the fish closer, within 50 yards, it made another extremely long run of at least 100 yards and then slowed down. Tad had the boat idling in and out of gear as George continued to work on his fish. Again, as they got the fish closer, it took off on another blistering run.
"With the little Shimano spinning rods, you got to be really careful," mentioned Tad. "You just can't go ahead on the fish. You got to go idle in and out of gear, and let the angler get a few pumps and cranks on it."
They didn't think it was that big, because they had gotten Tom's 35- to 40-pounder in fairly quick. The third time to the boat, the ono was within 30 yards before it made a shorter run of around 75 yards. That's when they figured it was either foul hooked - or something really big and a lot more weight than they thought.
Tad just kept the boat idled ahead, in and out of gear, and took his time. When they finally saw it 30 minutes later, it was about 50 feet down. It still had a little bit of fight left.
When the ono started to come up, they could see how big it was and how long it was. "When you can tell that the fish is pretty long when they are down 40-50-feet, it's usually a pretty nice fish. For being an ono, it had the length of a striped marlin. It was pretty awesome," said Brian.
It came up pretty tired and pretty dead - the way they like it, said Brian. George cranked his ono right to the stern. Brian reached out, grabbed the line and took a wrap, getting a gaff in the fish. When Tom saw the size of the ono, he got a second gaff in it, just because.
Brian pulled the huge ono up on the swim step, subdued it a few times and then opened the stern door, sliding it into the boat. It was a pretty amazing fish, said Tad - the biggest one he has ever seen in 40 years of fishing out of Lahaina Harbor.
This is the largest ono since the late 1970s (1978-79), when a 78-pounder was weighed aboard the Islander II with the late Capt. Jack Huddleston. In April of 1983, another 78-pounder was landed aboard the Charger with Capt. Mike Kearns.
This new Lahaina Harbor record 90.2-pound ono was 69 inches long with a half-body girth of 15 inches. The Hawaii state record is 133.2 pounds.