KONA, HAWAII… Captain McGrew Rice wanted to take his former high school teacher and good friend, sportswriter Jim Rizzuto, out for a day of fishing. But Rizzuto asked Capt. Rice to put the trip off for a few days because his grandson, Kai, was coming to the Big Island for a visit. Rizzuto wanted his grandson to come along on the trip. Kai lived in Ft. Greene, NY, a Brooklyn neighborhood and was a junior at The Beacon School in Manhattan. Though only 16 years old, he was an experienced angler, thanks to his visits to Hawaii and a summer spent as a deck hand on the Tropical Sun. But Kai had yet to catch a fish that weighed more than 55 pounds. His grandfather was hoping February 19th would be Kai’s lucky day. And boy, was it!
Capt. Rice crossed his fingers. Just the day before his charter boat, Ihu Nui, – a 45ft. custom Monterey, had a great day fishing with multiple marlin strikes and hook ups for his charter guests. Kona is a great place to fish, but you can’t expect everyday to be a perfect day for fishing. Would the Ihu Nui get lucky two days in a row?
It takes skill to catch a huge Pacific Blue Marlin, not just luck. Capt. McGrew Rice and his mate, Carlton Arai, have that skill in spades. Both McGrew and Carlton have multiple grander catches to their credit, but they had yet to catch a grander together.
The morning started out well. Kai landed a spearfish in the morning and everyone on board was already thinking about the fresh fish dinner that awaited them at the end of the day. Shortly after noon Capt. Rice turned the Ihi Nui toward Kahaluu, a popular fishing ground just south of the village of Kailua Kona. He began trolling the 1,000-fathom line. The line went off with the sound of a gunshot when the 1058 lb. (479.9kg) Pacific Blue Marlin devoured a green Koya “Poi Dog” lure with a double 11/0 hook rig. Kai Rizutto jumped into the fighting chair while the the mate cleared the lines. This was the fish Kai’s grandfather was praying for.
Under the expert guidance of mate, Carlton Arai, Kai began reeling for all he was worth. The teenager, weighing only a fraction of the monster marlin’s weight, cranked the Shimano reel hard and fast while Capt. Rice backed down and continually maneuvered the Ihu Nui into the most advantageous fighting position possible for the angler. The gigantic fish jumped across the skyline, first one way and then another, struggling to throw the hook. Eventually the fish jumped so many times and fought so hard she knocked herself out, floating upside down by the time she reached the Ihu Nui’s transom. There was no way to revive and release her. Kai landed Kona’s first grander of 2015 at 1:40 o’clock in the afternoon after an intense and all out 40 minute fight.
The Ihu Nui is a luxury 45 ft. Monterey charter fishing boat built in 1979 and totally refitted just over a year ago. Her sister craft, the Ihu Nui II, is a 40ft. Miller skippered by Captain Tony Clark. Both boats are air conditioned, with large salons and cockpits and are well known as fish catching machines in Hawaii.