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Kona USA 2014

The second tag of the 55th Annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in 2014

Sally Kurz battles a blue aboard Humdinger while husband Bob (left) and deckhand Brett Fay (right) provide support.



Marty Firestein shows off his new IGMR lure while Mitchell Firestein looks on.

Marty Firestein shows off his new IGMR Pakula lure while his son, Mitchell Firestsein looks on.

Kona, USA 2014 Race Complete

MARCH 2015 -- On March 3, 2015, the final tag in the 2014 HIBT IGMR surfaced to win the race after remaining on Fish 7, an estimated 170 kg (375 lb) blue marlin, for the full programmed duration of 180 days! The tag reported about 250 nautical miles (nm) north of the equator at an incredible point to point distance of 2,659 nautical miles (nm) southeast from where it was deployed in Kona, Hawaii, USA. Congratulations to Chuck Wigzell of Lady Dee, the sponsor and tagger of the winning fish! This distance is also the fourth longest distance ever recorded in the history of the IGFA Great Marlin Race, and places just behind last year’s HIBT IGMR winning fish that swam a point to point distance of 2,883 nm.

Coming in a very close second place was Fish 1, sponsored by Keith and Janice Allan of Whangaroa Sport Fishing Club. The tag that was placed on an estimated 68 kg (150 lb) blue marlin by High Flier Captain Guy Terwilliger, popped up on New Year’s day very close (about 370 nm away) to where Fish 7's tag surfaced! Fish 1 swam a remarkable point to point distance of 2,292 nm and most interestingly, both Fish 7 and Fish 1 tags popped up far to the east (rather than to the south) in a location very similar to the longest track from the 2010 HIBT, which was also an El Nino year. The track for Fish 1 is currently available on the race website, and it will be very interesting to see if Fish 7 swam a similar route.

Last year’s winning sponsors Mitchell and Marty Firestein took third place in this year’s race while fishing for Laguna Niguel Billfish Club #3! While fishing with Captain Kevin Nakamaru aboard Northern Lights, Martin Firestein reeled in an estimated 50 kg (100 lb) marlin that his son, Mitchell tagged. Although the tag only stayed with the blue for only about 32 days, it still recorded data over a very long distance of 572 nm! From the track produced, Fish 3 maintained a steady pattern south and it looks like it was beginning to head west when the tag popped off.

Fourth place in the race goes to sponsor Tim McBride of Mission Bay Marlin Club, San Diego whose tag popped off on February 26, 2015 to reveal that Fish 6, a massive 541 kg (600 lb) blue marlin, swam a point to point distance of 541 nm. Given that the tag remained on the fish for a whopping 182 days, it will be really interesting to see if it swam far away somewhere and circled back towards Kona, or if it exhibited site fidelity the entire six months.

Fifth place in the race belongs to sponsors Robert Chavers, Robert Dudley, Bob and Sally Kurz, and Charles Salinger of Laguna Niguel Billfish Club #1 and #2. As reported in the previous update, the tag that was placed on their 113 kg (250 lb) blue popped off after only one day and so unfortunately, there could be no track generated for this marlin.

Quite unfortunately, the two remaining tags in the race, Fish 4 and Fish 5 never reported. Although we hope to hear back from every tag we deploy, there is always a chance that a tag will not report. We can speculate a few reasons this might happen. First, although each tag is painted with anti-fouling paint, biofouling can become an issue, especially during long deployments. It’s also possible for the antenna to become encrusted with organisms which can impede the tag’s ability to transmit data or it’s possible the tag could malfunction (although a very rare occurrence). What we believe may also be likely in this particular race is these tags were crushed when they reached very deep depths. In very deep ocean basins like the Pacific, it is possible that both blue marlin died and when they sank to the ocean floor, the tags may have been crushed before they were able to release themselves from the carcass.

Although this is very disappointing news regarding the last two tags, we want all sponsors to know how much we appreciate your participation. This citizen-science program not only survives, but continues to grow through anglers like you who care about preserving our sport for future generations.

Stay tuned to the race page for Fish 6 and 7 tracks to be added very soon!

Kona, USA 2014 Race Update

NOVEMBER 2014 -- We are halfway through the race where seven Pacific blues are battling it out to see which will swim the furthest!

Of the seven tags that were deployed during the 2014 HIBT and the weeks following the tournament, two have surfaced.  

The first tag to surface belonged to Team 2, Laguna Niguel Billfish Club #1 and #2. The tag that was placed on their 113 kg (250 lb) blue popped off after only a day on the fish and so unfortunately, there will be no track generated for this marlin.

The second tag to report belonged to Team 3, Laguna Niguel Billfish Club #3. The tag popped that was placed on the 50 kg (110 lb) marlin on July 29 popped off after 32 days, but reported a remarkable linear distance of 572 nautical miles (nm). We are excited to see just where this marlin went during the month of August!

The remaining five fish are still actively collecting data and their tags are due to pop off between January 24, 2015 and March 3, 2015. Please visit the race page where we post updates to each team and to the satellite map!

Kona, USA 2014 Race Update

SEPTEMBER 2014 -- It’s been seven weeks since the start of the 55th Annual HIBT where the first two tags of the 2014 Kona, USA IGMR were deployed during the first fishing day of the tournament! Since then, the remaining five tags have been deployed on Pacific blue marlin!

Fishing for Laguna Niguel Billfish Club #3, co-sponsor Mitchell Firestein deployed the third tag of the race after his father and co-sponsor Martin Firestein reeled in the 50 kg (110 lb) blue. The father and son team were fishing from Northern Lights on July 29, 2014. This was the third tag the Firesteins have sponsored since the IGMR in 2011.

Also sponsoring a tag for the third year in a row was another father and son team: IGFA Representative Rolf Czabayski and IGFA Lifetime Member Ralph Czabayski who were fishing for the Game Fishing Club of South Australia. On July  31, 2014, Ralph deployed the fourth tag of the IGMR after his father successfully fought the 91 kg (200 lb) fish aboard Medusa.

On August 15, 2014, Ihu Nui captain McGrew Rice placed the fifth tag of the race on a 113 kg (250 lb) caught by Bob Kurz. For the third year in a row, this tag was generously cosponsored by IGFA Representatives Bob and Sally Kurz from Laguna Niguel Billfish Club #1  Rocky Franich, Bill Evans, and Bob Duerr from Pajaro Valley Game Fish Club.

Two weeks later on August 28, 2014 IGMR sponsor Tim McBride of Mission Bay Marlin Club’s tag was placed on a 272 kg (600 lb) blue by Northern Lights captain Kevin Nakamaru after angler Randy Pauly reeled in the fish. Tim has independently sponsored two tags since the start of the IGMR.

The last tag to be deployed was by sponsor Chuck Wigzell after angler Lou Groebner fought the 375 kg (170 lb) marlin aboard Lady Dee on September 4, 2014. This is also Chuck’s second year sponsoring a tag and supporting the IGMR program.

Thanks to all sponsors, anglers, captains, and crew for thier continued support of the IGMR, which aids the conservation of these valuable species and our sport. Keep a look out for more updates that will be appearing soon!

Kona, USA 2014 Race Start

JULY 2014 -- July 28, 2014 marked the first fishing day of the 55th Annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. It is also the sixth year for the Great Marlin Race, which was launched there in celebration of the HIBT's 50th Anniversary.

In the morning, the teams arrived at the "shouting room" (a giant open-air tent where the angling teams assemble before and after fishing) and within mniutes, Whangaroa Sportfishing Club's Keith Allan stepped forward to sponsor a tag with his wife, Janice. This is the second year the Allan's have sponsored a tag and we are grateful for their continued support of the IGMR.

Also sponsoring a tag for the third year in a row is IGFA Representative Rocky Franich from the Pajaro Valley Game Fish Club, Ralph Czabayski of the Game Fishing Club of South Australia, IGFA Representatives Bob and Sally Kurz, and last year's winning team: Marty and Mitchell Firestein, who are fishing this year as part of the Laguna Niguel Billfish Club.

As in last year's race, Keith and Janice's tag was the first to be deployed by Dr. Rex Pyne after he battled the 68 kg (150 lb) blue early yesterday morning!

Meanwhile, it was just coming up on 10 am when Sally Kurz hooked a 113 kg (250 lb) blue. Sally fought the fish, gaining only six inches of line at at time, and an hour later, Brett Fay leadered the marlin alongside the boat where Bob Kurz carefully tagged it. Moments later, the marlin swam away strong.

This is a fantastic start to the HIBT IGMR and we hope the beginning to a great week of fishing! Keep checking back for more updates soon.