Kona Hawaii Fishing Report – March 2020 wrap-up.

I know you’re tired of hearing about Coronavirus already and you’re looking forward to reading about fishing and I’m going to get to that but first I want to tell you about Hawaii’s over reaction to the virus. On March 20th, the State “suspended” all “commercial permits” for charter fishing, sailing, kayaking, surfing, whale watching, diving, snorkeling, paddle boarding ….. ANY ocean activity that charges money to do it.

They also shut down All state parks so there is no beach access to any state beach. That’s almost all of them. But, here’s the kicker, the “stay at home” order still allows people to go fishing, hunting, kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding, diving, snorkeling and so on. The problem is, if you don’t have your own equipment, you can’t rent any! All of the companies that rent equipment are also required to have the same commercial permits that have been suspended. There are some ways around it though and I’ll wrap up this months report with that.

March is always one of my favorite months to fish. Things really start to change for the better weather wise, sea condition wise and fish abundance wise. The marlin bite was pretty hot for blue marlin but the striped marlin bite looks like it will continue to be another slow, not so good season. Last month I said that I was hoping the spearfish bite was just running late and it turned out that it was. When March started, all of the sudden there were spearfish flags flying everywhere. We’re about mid season on spearfish.

Mahi mahi season started this month and so far it’s looking good. The peak of the spring time run is just starting and runs through June. Ono season starts in May and really kicks into gear in June. Add that to spearfish season and there’s plenty of white meat fish to be had. If you’re looking for red meat fish, the otaru tuna bite is pretty good right now even though the season isn’t suppose to start until May. Pretty much like clockwork, the ahi tuna bite will be picking up. Especially when May comes.

The bottom fishing conditions finally got better and so did the bite. I was out last Sunday and it was hard to drift fish my favorite spot because there were so many other boats drift fishing the same area. “Social distancing” is a lot more difficult with drifting boats and fishing lines.

I’m going to limit the wrap up to my particular charter fishing situation but I would think that the same would apply to the rest of the businesses that are required to have a commercial permit.

I’m going to give you the gist of the Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993: Any “consideration” for going out on someone else’s boat in the form of cash, gas, food or ANYTHING in “trade” constituted a “charter”, so all of the required licenses and permits are required. In 1999 the definition of “consideration” was changed to differentiate between “voluntary” and “mandatory”. So, if I “require” you to compensate me for gas, ice, beer…whatever. By law, that’s a charter. If you “volunteer” to help me out with any of those, we’re all good. That’s the Federal law anyway. So who’s going fishing?

See ‘ya on the water,

Capt. Jeff Rogers,