Lahaina charter fleet catches 220 billfish in four months
LAHAINA — The spring/summer blue marlin finally showed up during May, with 15 weighed and another five tagged or released. During a 13-day period, four were weighed over 400 pounds (422.5, 450.0, 630.5, 794.5).
All the striped marlin that were around in February (47) and March (90) were nonexistent, with only one being caught. The shortnose spearfish were consistent throughout the month, with 22 weighed and another three tagged or released. This brought the May billfish total to 46 aboard 14 charter boats.
June was the best month for 500-plus-pound marlin in eight years, with seven being weighed (548.8, 552.4, 576.4, 592.2, 621.4, 635.1, 647.3). Only two other times have seven marlin over 500 pounds been weighed during any month since I started keep billfish stats in 1983. The first was in May 1990, 21 years ago, and May of 2003 — eight years ago. In 1990, April had six blue marlin over 500 pounds, and in 2002, August saw six blue marlin weighed over 500 pounds.
One 400-pounder (457.3) was also weighed, bringing the top blue marlin numbers for June to eight over 400. That was half of the total blue marlin weighed for the month, totaling 16, with another six tagged or released.
Two striped marlin made it to the scales with two tagged or released. There were 11 spearfish brought in and another three tagged or released. This brought the total billfish numbers to 40 aboard 14 charter boats.
The two-month May/June totals were 12 blue marlin over 400 pounds during a 59-day period. Three were in the 400-pound range, four were in the 500-pound range, three were in the 600-pound range and two in the 700-pound range.
The total blue marlin count for July was the best since October 2006 with 64 being captured. There were 34 weighed — the most since October 2006 — and another 30 tagged or released (the most since July 2001). The fleet had seven days where there were four or more blue marlin captured, with two of those days with five.
With the spawning cycle starting to heat up, the big girls that were around in record numbers during June were greatly outnumbered by the males. Of the 34 blue marlin weighed, the 18 that were sexed were male.
Forty-four of the blue marlin weighed and tagged or released were between 100-200 pounds. Seventeen were in the 200- to 300-pound range. Ninety-nine percent of blue marlin over 300 pounds are female.
There were also eight striped marlin and seven spearfish weighed, along with one spearfish and one sailfish tagged or released.
The number of blue marlin that were weighed during August stayed the same as July with 34 hitting the scales. Another sixteen were tagged or released, bringing the total blue count up to 50. There were only three striped marlin caught, and no spearfish at all, bringing the monthly billfish total to 53 aboard 18 charter boats.
Of the 34 blues that were weighed, 17 were sexed, with 14 of them being males. The big girls left town, with the smaller males dominating the scene. Fifteen of the blues weighed were between 100-150 pounds, with another 16 tagged or released, bringing the total to 31 in that range. Another 13 were weighed between 151-200 pounds.
The four-month May-August billfish totals were excellent. There were 98 blue marlin, 14 striped marlin and 40 spearfish weighed for a total of 152 billfish. Another 57 blue marlin were tagged or released, with only one striped marlin, eight spearfish and one sailfish tagged or released for a total of 69 billfish. This brought the four-month grand total up to 220 billfish aboard 18 charter boats.
I would like to thank Start Me Up Sportfishing for the use of their digital scale for weighing the big blue marlin during the summer run.