If you want to catch a grander, a marlin weighing over 1000 pounds (453.6kg), you can increase you odds by going to Kona, Hawaii and fishing with Captain Mat Bowman. There is no doubt that luck plays a big role in landing a giant Pacific Blue Marlin, but when it happens twice in one week, lady luck is being helped along by years of fishing skill and experience.
Michael Bilich, his son and grandson wanted to fishing in Kona. They were hoping to catch a fish or two, maybe something they could take home and have for dinner. That is what they had in mind in late August 2015 when they chartered the Northern Lights, a classic 37’ Merritt skippered by Captain Mat Bowman. Just a week earlier, during the yearly Kona TART tournament, Captain Bowman was crewing aboard the Northern Lights II with Captain Kevin Nakamaru when they landed a 1075 lb. (487.6kg) Pacific Blue Marlin for angler Brent Nelson and won the tournament.
Seven days later, on August 26, 2015, Captain Bowman took three Bilich family anglers out for a day of big game fishing. “It was flat calm, a beautiful Kona day,” commented Capt. Bowman. He cruised out of Honokohau Harbor with the family and mate Kyle Vannatta, and turned south. When they reached Hookena they had a double hookup!
Grandfather, Michael Bilich, took one rod, and his son grabbed the other. Captain Bowman’s Blue Koya Poi Dog lure caught the attention of a mating pair of Pacific Blue Marlin who were ravenously hungry when they finished spawning. The fight was on.
The smaller male marlin came to the boat first and was tagged and released by mate Kyle Vannatta. Two and a half hours later, at 11:30 AM, Michael Bilich’s monster blue weighing 1309 lbs (478kg) was on board. The marlin died during the fight and could not be released. The four men pulled the fish through the transom door with a jaw hook and rope.
The weight of a Pacific Blue Marlin can be accurately estimated by measuring the girth of the tail stump. According to the tale stump rule, this fish should have weighed only 950 lbs. (431kg). But like all rules, this on was meant to be broken. “I didn’t realize how big the fish was until we had it on deck,” Captain Bowman said. “Then I knew it was a Grander.”
In addition to the 1309 pound Grander, the Bilich family trio released three smaller marlin that day and took two aku home to have for dinner. They seemed happier with the aku than with the once in a lifetime Grander, and seemed to take for granted the large crowd of people who were on hand at the Honokohau Harbor Fuel Dock for the official weighing.
For Captain Mat Bowman and Mate Kyle Vannetta this was their second grander in one week. Catching two Granders in one year may be a world record, let alone two in one month or even more outrageous – two in one week. Well done!