Reports of yellowfin tuna over one hundred pounds within paddling distance prompted Chris "Hammah" Paglinawan and me to set out to catch our dream fish. It had been a personal goal of both of ours for some years. We never really talked about it too much in detail but we had been prepared for this day. Big game rods and reels, live wells, gaffs, gloves, rope, and lots of bottled water oh and of course our Go Pros. We launched at 6 am on a calm waveless morning. The winds were predicted to blow around 10 to 15 offshore so we only have a small pocket to get this done. However after quickly making our live bait we felt a light onshore breeze notifying us that we may have the winds to our back on the way in.
We rigged up two live opelus each and set off to our mark. Upon arrival we could hear the chatter of rec and commercial boats explaining the porpises were near. Nearly every boat in the vicinity gave chase around us trying to get ahead of the pod.
Then I realized they had basically left the homebase where the ahi were supposed to bite at low tide. Because of the strong dropping current Chris and I had slid past the buoy and started to troll our way back to it. There was only one boat around while the other 10 to 12 boats were 3 or 4 miles down still chasing the porpise school. As we neared the boat Chris and I kept close watch to the captain as he wrestled his catch to the surface, he gaffed it and hoisted it up over the gunnel. It was an ahi, our anticipation immediately heightened as were now right in the hot spot. It wasn’t more than 10 minutes later when my bait started dancing.
I turned on my Go Pros and stared at my pole until zzzzzzzzz, fish on. I grabbed my rod and reel, upped the drag, set the hook and engaged in the fight. After radioing Chris I calmly settled into the fight. About 15 minutes later, Chris showed up right behind me. I began to reel in my other line to clear it from Chris when my reel started screaming, a cow mahimahi had snuck in under my kayak and taken the bait. I had a double strike on, Chris offered to grab my pole and after a few minutes he paddled up next to me and relieves me of my juggling act.
I get back to my ahi fight, I am straining, I can feel my back muscles tightening, I know my face is one of strain and agony, I am thinking to myself, “Dont lose this fish!”
All my fights, all my experience had come down to this dream moment. I go into low gear and the ahi begins to turn. But she’s not ready and heads back into the deep nearly pulling me into the water. All of a sudden Chris yells, “double!”, and I see a big bull mahi on his other rod while my mahi is still swimmimg around his kayak.
I go back to work and managed to bring the ahi up nearly to the leader. I see color. I see long yellow sickles. “Omg it is an ahi,” I say, “Ok, ok roc dont f this up!” As I start to circle the big beast up around my kayak the boats have returned and they are buzzing Chris and me with no consideration. I am getting waked. Chris is getting waked. A boat captain isn’t looking and is headed straight for Chris and the double mahi lines are all criss crossed.
We both start screaming for the captain to turn, finally he does. All this time I am minutes from ultimate glory. I get the ahi to leader. I try hand lining in the rest to no avail; the combination of heavy fish and fatigue make it too difficult. I decide to reel it closer, to get it within striking distance, I hold my breath, raise my kage and as I come down with my japanese style harpoon. I wonder to myself, “What is going to happen when I kage this thing?” Boom, the ahi splashes, shakes, and heads down with my kage still in it. I gain control and it does a big bloody circle on the surface. Then my now bent kage falls out. I reel the wounded beast to my yak abd gaff it in its eye.
I quickly reach for my knife and brain the tuna. After securing it with rope I take a good long look at the fish. Damn what a rush. I collect my thought and energy reserves, hoist the tuna on my lap and look around for Chris.
He’s paddling my with two mahis on his lap. We laugh and high five before deciding to trek back to shore. Chris decides to troll one last live one in and ends up hook an Ahi of his own. I paddle straight in to get my fish on ice and await his landing.
An hour and a half later we are both onshore with ahis and mahi mahis. At the scales my ahi weighed 103 and Chris 112 and my mahi was 24# and Chris got a nice big bull at 40#. Chris ahi is also the standing world record for unassisted Ahi catch from a kayak.
It was a crowning achievement for both of us and a day we will not soon forget. Plus it’s all on video! Hawaii No Ka Oi!