Bullbuster In Action:


MARLIN, MARLIN WHEREFORE THE @#! ART THOU


Author: Bullbuster Team

Big Game Fishing Hawaii Tips

When the Bullbuster Team purchased the domain for "Big Game Fishing The World"  we thought, there is no way that this could be true.  This was once a legends website. Well, it turned out to be true and today we have restored some of the works of legendary Capt. Norm Isaac's.  We take no credit for what you are about to read but instead insist on honoring a legend who helped shaped our sport. 

INSIDE BIG GAME FISHING, HAWAII with Capt. Norm Isaacs  


"As a charter boat operation... the operator that replies with 'I'd like to, but the moon phase isn't quite right'... had better have a reliable alternate way of making a living"

Legendary Captain Norman Isaacs

"So far, the best way I've found to find fish is to find their food."

Many big-game enthusiasts have the luxury of selecting the supposedly optimum times to head offshore by taking into consideration tidal information and moon phases, as well as current and forecasted weather information. A trip can be postponed or even canceled without any particular consequence. As a charter boat operation, whether you are a skipper, mate, owner or any combination thereof, it's a whole different deal. When a prospective client calls and says he wants to charter your boat for three days starting next Tuesday, the operator that replies with "I'd like to, but the moon phase isn't quite right", or "Sorry, bad tides", had better have a reliable alternate way of making a living.


Obviously, if conditions in any way, compromise safety, you stay at home. Occasionally if both your client's schedule and your booking schedule permit, things can sometimes be shuffled a day or two, one way or the other. For the most part, however, the charter boatskipper is faced with finding a hungry fish, period -- full moon, lousy tides, frontal passages, whatever. While nobody finds and catches fish every trip, the successful skippers who have some experience behind them can come up with some action, one way or another, a remarkably high percentage of the time.


No two skippers attack the problem in exactly the same way, and no one way is the best for everyone. Personally, being easily confused, I have to take a fairly simplistic approach. The first and foremost important item, in my thinking, is finding the fish. The best bait presented the best way will not produce a strike from empty water. (You can tell already we're not doing brain surgery here.)

"until you see marlin carrying lunch boxes for a snack later, it's going to happen where the food is."

So far, the best way I've found to find fish is to find their food. A marlin's food, at least in Hawaii's waters, is usually easier to spot than the marlin is. This is mostly due to the presence of more surface commotion or birds working an area where bait fish are present. Today's electronics can also show you an area to spend some time in when nothing on the surface gets your attention. Not only will locating the prey help to locate the predator, the chances are better that the predator is in an eating frame of mind when it's in the vicinity of its food source. Compare this approach to finding hungry people. A good restaurant isn't a bad place to hang out. Sooner or later, people with appetites will probably show up, and when they show up, sooner or later they will probably eat.

"You've tried all your schemes ... and still zip, zero, nada...  If this hasn't happened to you yet, you just haven't spent enough time big-game fishing. "

Moons, tides, currents, temperature and probably several hundred other factors, a lot of which we don't have a clue about, may affect the eating patterns of the various species. How much, how often, how aggressively they feed, who knows? But until you see marlin carrying lunch boxes for a snack later, it's going to happen where the food is.

"my son.. immediately brought the frisky 4 lb. skipjack... where the marlin couldn't miss it... The fish lit up, charged the bait and stopped only inches short before backing off"

Sometimes, generally through frustration, we have to vary from our normal plan. Maybe we can't get any handle on where their food is, or sometimes there is so much food in the water that there is nothing that tells you to concentrate on any particular area. Sometimes everything looks perfect -- good everything: current, bait, etc. -- and it still doesn't happen. For days it doesn't happen. You've tried all your schemes, A through Z, including the very scientific, "when in doubt, go straight out" approach and still zip, zero, nada. The prospects of the rubber room as a future home loom closer. If this hasn't happened to you yet, you just haven't spent enough time big-game fishing. This is when you have to be grateful for the opportunity to fire the shot. Stick to the proven basics that you know work and wait it out. Most of us can stand the ego reduction anyway.

"This marlin stayed with us for a full 50 minutes, never more than 100 ft. or so away, always in plain sight"

On a recent charter aboard the SUNDOWNER, finding the fish wasn't the problem. Live baiting at a FAD located a few miles south of Kailua-Kona, we had a marlin in the 200 lb. range show up between the bait and the back of the boat. Darrin Isaacs, my son and co-captain, immediately brought the frisky 4 lb. skipjack into an area where the marlin couldn't miss it.

The fish lit up, charged the bait and stopped only inches short before backing off. This happened several times, and each time we thought, 'this is it', but it wasn't. We tried free-spooling the bait at which time the terrified aku dove out of sight with the lit-up marlin in hot pursuit. Thirty seconds later, up came the bait, still terrified with the marlin still on its tail, still lit up, but no strike.

Now, over the years I've had marlin stay in the pattern for maybe 10 minutes. Within that time we would get the strike or scare off the fish, or it would just lose interest and go away. This marlin stayed with us for a full 50 minutes, never more than 100 ft. or so away, always in plain sight.

"To me, the hunt is still a huge part of the attraction in this sport."

We tried speeding up and skipping the bait from high in the 'rigger. We brought in the bait which was rigged on 400 lb. test mono, and re-rigged it on less visible wire. We dropped back the lures, a Super Plunger and a small AP, and several lures of in-between sizes, and then quickly cranked them in past the bait and the marlin. Judging by the marlin's various indications of excitement, it thought most of these maneuvers were really interesting, but nothing we could do triggered it to strike. Nothing we could think of, and I only mentioned a few of the things we tried, had the desired effect. For the first time ever, we, not the fish, finally lost interest and went about our business. The point was made loud and clear, however, that although finding the fish is definitely the most important first step, it still doesn't guarantee the found fish will eat.

Although frustrating, being able to watch that whole scenario made the day. Because of the close proximity of the fish, the entertainment value was high. I have fought and tagged a number of fish in that same amount of time that weren't as exciting as this one. To me, the hunt is still a huge part of the attraction in this sport. This particular fish was also a prime example of no matter how long you've been at this game, every now and then a marlin will take you to school.


Tight Lines . . . . . Norm.

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