Humdinger Wins 21st Annual TART Tournament


 For Immediate Release

Kona Sportfishing Turns Red Hot for the 21st Annual

T. A. R. T Tournament

 Five Boats Catch 24 Blue Marlin during the Five-Day Fishing Tournament in Kona Hawaii

Kailua-Kona, HI – July 11, 2011 – Some of Kona’s best sportfishing captains competed this past week in the 21st annual T.A.R.T.  Tournament (Tag and Release Tournament) held each year in Kona Hawaii.  The tournament was founded by Ken Corday.  Five boats competed this year for total points and anglers from each team compete separately for total points and prizes.  This year’s event proved to be one of the best ever with 24 blue marlin caught during the five day event with 22 of the 24 fish being tagged and released.

This year’s event featured Captain Jeff Fay on the Humdinger, Captain McGrew Rice on the Ihu Nui, Captain Kevin Nakamura on the Northern Lights, Captain Bill Casey on the Pacific Blue and Captain Bill (B.C.) Crawford on the Chiripa.

Day One of the event started off strong when Jeff Fay on the Humdinger tagged and released two blue marlin.   Captain Bill Crawford on the Chiripa answered with two tags of his own, but it was McGrew Rice on the Ihu Nui that bested both captains with three tags for the day to take the lead on day one of the event.

Day Two of the event delivered more of the same great sport fishing Kona is known for.  Once again, The Humdinger tagged and released two blue marlin, and Kevin Nakamura weighed a 400 lb blue marlin to add his name to leader board, but it was the crew of the Ihu Nui who posted two more tags on day two to hang on to the lead with five tags total at the end of day two.

Day Three continued to demonstrate why the Sportfishing in Kona Hawaii is considered to be some of the best and most consistent anywhere in the world.  Captain Kevin Nakamura on the Northern Lights weighed a 399 pound blue marlin and Captain Bill Casey went on to tag and release one blue marlin for the day, but it was Captain Jeff Fay on the Humdinger who took the day and pulled into the lead for the tournament with three tags on day three and seven thus far in the tournament.

Day Four of the event opened with all five captains on the leader board and the event up for grabs.  With captains able to earn points by tagging and releasing blue marlin or earn extra points by weighing larger marlin, any one of the captains was in striking distance with a few tags or one good fish.  By the end of day four, the Humdinger, Chiripa, Pacific Blue and Northern Lights all reported tagging one blue marlin each, but it was Humdinger at the top of the leader board at the end of day four with eight tags in four days.

Day Five proved to be frustrating for the teams when only one team added points to the board in the final day of the event.  McGrew Rice on the Ihu Nui made up for a no show performance on day four of the event by tagging two blue marlin on the final day of the event.  With a strong showing of seven tags in five days, it wasn’t enough to best captain Jeff Fay on the Humdinger, who despite posting a blank on day five, held on to win the event with eight tags.

This year marks eighth time the Humdinger has won the tournament in its 21 year history.

About Humdinger Sportfishing

Captain Jeff Fay has been fishing in Kona, Hawaii for giant blue marlin for over 40 years. In addition to his numerous decades of knowledge and experience he has collected in Kona, Captain Jeff Fay has operated several sportfishing charter boats for owners the world over.

Captain Fay has enjoyed a rich and successful career in the big game sportfishing community. After capturing his first “Grander” in 1972, Jeff has gone on to assist anglers on eleven marlin over 1,000 pounds worldwide. Additionally he has set numerous world records, the two most recently in Kona when Jeff assisted Debra Dunaway to her last two world records to complete her bid to be the first angler in history to hold a world record for every species of billfish in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Captain Fay is the only Four Time Winner of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament’s “Henry Chee Award presented to the top-scoring Hawaii charter fishing captain in the tournament and has also gone on to win the Tag and Release Tournament (T.A.R.T.) 8 times in its 21 year history.

For more information about Kona Sportfishing charters on the Humdinger, visit their website at


Captain Jeff Fay

Humdinger Sportfishing

PO Box 1995

Kailua-Kona, HI 96745

(808) 325-3449

Humdinger Wins Most Tags and Total Points in Skins Marlin Derby

Kona, Hawaii – July 11, 2011 – The crew of the Humdinger, Captain Jeff Fay, and Deckhands Henry “Butch” Chee Jr. and Brett Fay along with Anglers Jim Humphries and Eldon Lee went on to win top honors in the total points and most tags categories in Kona Tournament Series Skins Marlin Derby held in Kona July 8-10, 2011.

The Humdinger Sportfishing team made a strong showing in day one of the tournament tagging three fish for a total of 600 points, but Heather Masunaga fishing on the Rod Bender landed a 676.5 lb blue marlin in the closing minutes of the first day to take the lead in points and capture the SKIN for day one.

Keeping up the pace of day one, the crew of the Humdinger went on to tag two more fish on the second day of the tournament, but Jim Rainey fishing on the Maui Jim weighed the only fish on day two, a 506 pound blue marlin, that was just enough to take the SKIN for the day.  Despite not weighing a fish, the Crew of Humdinger Sportfishing lead the tournament in total points with five tags and 1,000 points at the end of day two.

The fishing stayed red hot on the Grounds during day three, but the Humdinger struggled to connect on a big fish.  Hooking and losing a nice fish on day three just added to the crew’s frustration, but with such a strong showing on the first two days, the Humdinger hung on to win the total points category and the skin for day three as well, taking home $38,000 in prize money.

See all the results HERE on the Kona Tournaments website.

Hawaii Fishing marlin tag and release

Hawaii Sportfishing Kona

Marlin Magazine Names Kona Hawaii One of the Top 10 U.S. Billfish Spots

By Charles Levine

Marlin Magazine online

While it might seem unfair to the mainland ports listed in this article to mention Kona, it would be even more unfair to leave it out. Located on the leeward side of the Big Island of Hawaii, Kona is home to one of the United States’ most prolific blue marlin bites. You can catch blue marlin every month of the year here, and the Kona boys seem to land at least one grander each season. Most of the tournaments take place in the summer months when the billfish bite with more regularity. As far as other species to contend with, you’ll find a seemingly never-ending supply of tuna, wahoo and mahimahi, not to mention striped marlin, shortbill spearfish and the occasional swordfish.  Read the Whole story at Marlin Magazine Online.

Kona Top 10 US Billfish Spot for Hawaiii Fishing Charter

A Real Humdinger

A Real Humdinger

Captain Jeff Fay learned from the pioneers of Kona big-game sportfishing

Captain Peter Wright

By Captain Peter Wright – Reprinted with Permission

This article first appeared in Marlin Magazine in October of 2007


“Marlin” I yelled at the top of my lungs. I felt like I was being deafened by the rattling, clanging, metal, dry stack exhaust that was churning out the unforgettable deep throated sound of an early model 6-71 Gray Marine Diesel engine. I wanted to make sure I could be heard over the noisy exhaust by Capt. Jeff Fay and his clients on the lower deck of the Malia. I wanted get their attention before the fish struck the artificial lure.

That fish was only the first of 5 blue marlin that attacked our Hawaiian style lures that day. I had come to Kona, Hawaii hoping to learn something about the lures (sometimes called “Kona Heads” on the east coast) from some of the people who had first used them and whose deckhands would eventually make them popular world wide during their travels off island .

Hawaiian anglers and skippers had told me that blue marlin in the Pacific did not show themselves behind a lure, like we were accustomed to having them do in the Atlantic with natural dead baits, but invariably “crashed” the bait without warning. Every fish we raised that day proved that belief to be wrong. (The fact that few skippers of that time ran their boats from the bridge was undoubtedly a major factor !) We caught 3 out of the 5 marlin that bit our lures. At that time it was my best single day ever for blue marlin.

I first met Fay in Hawaii some 35 years ago. At that time Freddie Rice was the owner of the Malia. Rice and one of Malia’s customers, the late Morton D. May, chartered me for a single day in Australia while waiting for my good friend Dennis “Brazakka“ Wallace to become available for their 10 day charter with him. At the end of their trip May and Rice had invited me to join them in Kona to fish aboard Rice’s boat. (see side bar Henry Chee’s Malia).

Fay was born in Ventura, California on April 4,1947. He has a faint recollection of catching his first fish in a pond in a cemetery “in the Berkley area.” He does not remember anything about the tackle he used, except that the hook was gold colored, and the fish was used to fertilize his grandmother’s rose garden. His biggest fish as a young boy, a carp, also became fertilizer for the roses.

By age 13 he was riding a bicycle to the Sacramento River estuary system to fish for striped bass which he caught using a small bait casting reel and rod. Fish under legal size were hidden in his pants for the triumphant bike ride home. These striped bass were food for the boy, not the rose garden.

In 1962, at age 15, after his mother had passed away, Fay moved to Kona, Hawaii, and lived there with his father, Fred Fay . He did not get to fish during his high school years at Konawaina High School. After graduation Fay went to Honolulu to start his freshman year at the University of Hawaii.

During his Christmas break he came home to Kona. One day Captain Terry Truman invited him to go along on a “Holo Holo” fishing trip on an old sampan style of boat named the “Kua Lua”. (On a holo holo trip there is no charter on board and no wages are paid, but if fish with commercial value are caught the mate gets a share of the fish money .)

There were only the two of them on board Kua Loa that day. When a 160 pound marlin struck their live bait, Fay got to catch his first blue marlin. His fishing fever was rekindled. He never returned to U of H, but began to work full time as a fisherman.

Fay credits a local Kona commercial fisherman, Olny Roy, for teaching both Truman and himself many advanced techniques for fishing for marlin and tuna, in particular the use of small tuna and bonito as live bait. This tactic worked especially well along the projections and indentations of the section of the 100 fathom ledge north of Kona airport that was known to locals as simply “The Grounds”.

“Olney Roy had unbelievable fish sense.” Fay says today. “He made both Terry Truman and Bart Miller into good live bait fishermen, but never got the credit he deserved. Bart got his reputation catching blue marlin on live bait and it was Olny Roy who taught him.”

“Olney was fishing with Terry a lot when I started working for Terry. Olney got the fish money and we got an education about fishing that only a handful of Hawaiians could ever match. Before we had GPS or even good recorders he knew where to go and what moon phases were best for a whole bunch of different species of fish. He could catch all the pelagic fish, marlin, wahoo, mahi mahi, and tuna, not to mention every kind of bottom fish, and small bait fish. It was all in his head, and Olney was never selfish about explaining things to us.”

When Henry Chee passed away Freddie Rice bought his famous boat. Rice, a cattle rancher and rodeo champion, fished the boat on weekends and hired a young Hawaiian captain, Wes Vanatta, to run it as a charter boat when Rice was not fishing. Fay was hired as mate and learned new fishing skills in a direct line of instruction that started with Henry Chee, ran through Vanatta, and now on to Fay.

“With Terry we pulled lures only when we could not get live bait, lures were definitely second choice. Wes had fished with Henry and while we still used live bait a lot of the time, we pulled lures way more than Terry and I ever did.” Fay told me.

Henry Chee Jr. known to all his friends as “Butch” Chee has inherited the mantle of his famous dad and Butch still has his old man’s mitre box. The mitre box allows any man to cut the exact angle on the face of a lure that Henry Chee had developed through years of trial and error, and eventually with enormous fishing success. Butch catches more huge marlin, by himself, in a fiberglass Mako, than most charter boats I can think of.

Today, lures made by Henry Chee have a value (and, some say, a mana) that transcends even their rarity. The angle of the cut that Chee developed for a lure’s face works on almost any size and shape of both hard and soft lures.  In the late 1970s, when Fay and I started experimenting with home made, soft headed, lures we frequently asked Butch to let us use his dad’s mitre box to cut the magic angle into our latest effort. What little I know about old Hawaiian fishing methods Butch and Jeff showed me.

Fay has had the great good luck to be in the right time and place to intersect the pathways of two, almost genealogical, passings of the baton of fishing skills and knowledge. A major factor in Jeff’s success, including winning the Henry Chee award a record three times (now an unprecedented four times since the publication of this article), has been his ability to switch back and forth between the two fishing styles, depending upon the availability, or lack thereof, of tuna for live bait.

By the middle 1960’s Fred Rice was having trouble getting insurance on Chee’s tired old wooden boat so he had a replica built in Honolulu with only a couple of minor changes. He added a powerful electric solenoid to the new Malia’s old manual gear box to allow quick and easy automatic shifting- sort of.

Fay taught me early on to avoid the big manual shift lever that stuck several feet up through the wheel house deck. If someone poked the button that operated the solenoid while the boat’s operator was slipping the clutch in forward or reverse when fighting a fish (somewhat like a modern day trolling gear) the lever would SLAM forward or backward and was capable of inflicting injury that would instantly raise the deepest male bass voice to a high soprano! The “nut cracker” was one of the kinder names for this device.

The old Malia became Fay’s first major command when Vanatta left for another job, and he was proud to bring Rice’s new Malia home to Kona from her construction site in Honolulu.  Her outriggers were vertical bamboo poles affixed to the cockpit deck and bridge overhang.  Her flat line rod holders had large, scooped , palm shaped, castings to ease the strain on wooden rod butts and the flat line rod tips projected outboard making the flat lines’ lures farther apart than the outrigger baits.  Malia continued to be queen of the fleet and both Fay and Rice caught many marlin aboard her. The Rice family even took the women’s world record for Fred’s wife, Sally, with only Fred, Sally and two babies on board. Fred was sure the mana was good on his new boat.

In 1972 Fay took a job with Captain Alistair Dodds for the season in Cairns on board “Lady Margaret” . They got the first marlin of Fay’s career over 1000 pounds. Now Fay was also learning the Aussie style of trolling dead bait for truly huge marlin. In addition, there is no group of skippers on the planet that is as good at using heavy tackle as the most mediocre members of the Cairns fleet and Fay absorbed it all.

The three seasons Fay spent on the Great Barrier Reef added new dimensions to his skills as both a wireman and a skipper.  In all the time I have fished with Jeff I have never seen him break the leader on a fish we wanted to put in the boat. This is a far better indicator of the skills of a wireman than the ability to merely hang on and break the leader and call it a release. Jeff is one of the best.

In 1973 Fay fished with me in Cairns on Restless II. We got 6 granders together before he had to leave early to return to Hawaii. He was, and still is, a better mechanic than I and it took all of both our skills to keep Restless II running. At an 11 knot cruising speed her tired old Perkins engines used a quart of oil each for a day’s fishing.  If we pushed the cruising speed to 14 knots on the run in and out, we burned a gallon of oil per engine per day. I also learned that a man could depend on Fay when things went wrong at sea. Twice a propeller shaft fell out of a coupling in rough seas in inopportune and dangerous moments. We fixed that problem one evening and knew when we were done that we would pity the man who had to ever pull that shaft out again!

That year I first learned that Jeff was truly an expert cook. When it came to cooking fish he told me that, “You can make ANY fish taste good if you prepare and cook it right. Olney Roy taught me how to make a simple, but delicious, fish stew or soup. Truly great chefs can even take a hard to deal with species, or an internal organ and make it taste good.”

When I passed through Kona in 1975 Fay was “on the beach” running a milk truck, and I was unsure as to where I was headed career-wise. We decided to get a charter boat and start a fishing business in Hawaii. We went to California to buy Walter Voss’s old Dreamgirl, but wound up in Florida, where we became the proud owners of a 37‘ Rybovich named Humdinger.

We financed the boat 110% via a lease through a Cadillac store owned by one of Jeff’s customers, and became the brokest Rybovich owners on the planet. As we told Rice later, “Humdinger may be older than the new Malia but she has two engines.”  Our first fish on the new boat was Fay’s first giant bluefin tuna in the Bahamas. That fish put us temporarily into first place in the Cat Cay Tuna Tournament. We then trucked the boat to Oakland via low boy trailer, then barged her to Honolulu. We hoped that the boat’s luck would hold out in a new ocean.  After putting the flying bridge and tower back on the boat in Honolulu, we ran her to her new home in Kona. There we had to endure 3 fish less days before finally breaking open a bottle of champagne to celebrate our first marlin. Only after the fish was in the boat did we realize our first marlin in Hawaiian waters was a ‘rat’ (small) black marlin. We joked about how much money we had spent for a marlin that would not have rated much more than a yawn on the GBR.

Luck and skill continued to favor us and my biggest Pacific blue marlin ever is still a 902 pounder we got on Humdinger while cruising at 17 knots with a prototype Mold Craft Wide Range Softhead in our wake.  Our partnership lasted for 5 years and even when the pressures of coownership and cocaptainship split the partnership we managed to maintain a close friendship. We had built a good business from scratch, had caught world records and together we had added another Henry Chee award to Jeff’s successes.

One of my best fishing memories after Jeff assumed sole proprietorship is of riding along with Jeff and Butch on the Humdinger one day. I was observing and taking pictures when Deborah Dunaway caught a spearfish on 4 pound test that filled her hand with an existing world record for every species of billfish.  The ultra light line turned the member of smallest species of all the billfish in to a giant of a fish. Catching that record required all of Deborah’s angling talent, and Jeff’s light tackle boat handling skills. The tension was as tight I have seen on any world record attempt and the following celebration was world class.

SIDEBAR – Henry Chee’s “Malia”

Built in 1968 , the “Malia” that existed in 1972, when I first met Rice, and then Fay, was a recreation of one of the world’s most famous charter boats. Superstitious to a fault, Rice, a fifth generation Hawaiian who is descended from an old missionary family, had saved the steering wheel, koa wood tackle drawers, marine toilet, engine and gear box from a tired old wooden boat and had an exact replica recreated. His intention was to also recreate the “mana” (miraculous power and spirit) that the original boat was deemed to have when it had been skippered by the legendary Capt. Henry Chee.

The owner of the original “Malia”, Henry Chee was a world renowned captain and it is he after whom the award given to the winning skipper of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament is named. I never met Chee but many friends of mine, who fished with him on board the original Malia, tell me he was an extremely clever and innovative fisherman.

Capt. Chee is commonly credited with inventing the tag line and rubber band system system used by many modern boats when trolling artificial lures. Other systems used in Chee’s era including using clove hitches of the fishing line around wooden match sticks which broke and released the line when a marlin or tuna struck and must have chaffed the linen line they used in those years.

Tag lines and rubber bands were the superior system long before modern outrigger pins and anti-chafing gear had ever been thought of, and Chee caught blue marlin over 1,000 pounds on “Malia” many years before any captain in the Atlantic ever got one over the long time Atlantic world record of 742 pounds.  Many anglers and crews believed that the Malia must have had almost mythical abilities to be able to attract so many fish, and such big marlin. I think the fact that Chee was an outstanding captain was the major factor in his boat’s success!
(The belief that single screw boats raise more marlin than twin screw vessels may even be true, but is likely to be so due mainly to the skills of the men who run them and who have grown up with single screw rigs. Not many businessmen or professional men retire and buy a wooden, Carolina built, single screw, charter boat! New fiberglass, air conditioned two engine rigs are more their style and they do not have the fishing experience of the single engine guys.)

Skip Smith- “I mated for Fay when he started running the old 53 Hatteras “Hooker” for Dunaway. I first learned about fishing for marlin with lures, how to put on new skirts, making hook sets, where to run them on a wave, all that stuff from Jeff. We used a lot that of old Henry Chee lures in those days. Now there is a soft head named the “Hooker Lure” that I came up with by recutting the heads of soft lures with poor hook up ratios. It all started with things I learned from Fay.”

“What I remember most though was how when we hooked a good one he still got excited and hyperventilated or something and his gag reflex kicked in. I used to joke with him, I’ll wire, you gag!”

Sally Rice- “Jeff has been family since he started working for us as a teenager, mating for Wes Vanatta on Malia. Now he is one of the elite old timers of the Kona captains. My son McGrew got started mating for Jeff weekends and summers on Humdinger and became a great captain in his own right. His son, my grandson, Oskie also worked for Jeff in high schook and now he gets to fish and wire thousand pound marlin all over the world. Jeff has really done a great job of passing on his knowledge to a couple of generations of upcoming fishermen.”

Marlin Magazine Selects Kona Hawaii as a Top Destination World Wide to Catch a Grander

In an August 26, 2010 article by Charles Levine posted on, the author details the top sportfishing destination world wide with the highest probability of catching a “Grander” (a blue marlin over 1,000 lbs).  What makes Kona an ideal location is that it sits in the middle of the pacific ocean and the waters off of Kona remain protected by the huge volcanoes that created the Big Island of Hawaii.  Fishing in Kona Hawaii is close to the shore with most fish caught within five miles of land and the waters most every day are very calm and deep (500 to 1,000 fathoms within 5-10 miles of land), making it an ideal location for tourists and vacationers to try their luck at catching a big blue marlin.

Excerpt from article on follows.  Read the WHOLE STORY HERE.

“You can catch a grander Pacific blue on any day of the week in these waters, but the best big-fish months occur during the summer. Jim Rizzuto, who has chronicled the local fishing scene for the past few decades, counts 76 marlin topping 1,000 pounds since 1960 (and that does not take into account any granders released).

The Big Island is literally the top of a mountain that drops down to the seafloor. The depths fall away to 1,000 fathoms within sight of land, and you can catch marlin, tuna, wahoo and more within a stone’s throw of the harbor. It’s not uncommon to see an 18-foot Boston Whaler trolling with a 130-pound setup. The average blue runs between 300 and 500 pounds, but most of the fleet sticks with heavy tackle — and for good reason.

Capt. Jeff Fay, who runs Humdinger, a gorgeous 37 Rybovich, says he prefers baits for the big ones. Fay knows what he’s talking about. He’s won the Henry Chee captains award in the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament four times — the most of any captain.”

CLICK HERE to read the whole article on Marlin Magazine, the authority on Blue Marlin.

Kona Hawaii fishing charter with Jeff Fay on the Humdinger

Fishing Hawaii for Blue Marlin – Up Close, Personal and Near Shore

Reprinted from Western Outdoor News with Permission, March 2000

WON Staff Writer

KONA, Big Island, Hawaii

Humdinger - blue marlin Fishing Trip

I glanced off the stern and the waving palms were barely 1/2-mile away, framing the volcanic mountain backdrop of Mount Hualalai behind the town of Kailua Kona, and behind that towered 13,677-foot-high Mauna Loa Mountain, one of the largest single mountain masses in the world.

And here I was, fishing in Hawaii in some of the most famed blue marlin water in the world–only 10 minutes from port! This was my kind of fishing, and I loved it. No multi-hour cruises just to get to the fishing grounds, no big swells or rough seas. Here, fishing out of Kona, Hawaii, it’s a simple 10-minute cruise to the fishing grounds, you’re never out of sight of land, and you’re fishing some of the most prolific blue marlin waters in the world.

I had never heard of such a thing until friend John Wilson of Placerville told me about his experience out of Kona on the “Big Island” of Hawaii just weeks before. A friend of his, Jeff Dickey out of Houston, fishes on the Humdinger regularly, a 37-foot Rybovich, and wanted John to come over and experience the blue marlin fishing firsthand.

Their first day of fishing was good, with two marlin of 167 and 172 pounds caught, but the next day was the “real fun” one, Wilson related.

“Allison was up for the first fish,” said Wilson, “and at 9:30, after the banana dance, we hooked up with something big and it sounded. The fish never came back up, and Allison cranked and cranked and cranked–close to an hour. It was a beautiful calm, flat day, and then up came this 350-pound blue. We tagged and released it.”

The second fish that day was a big, big blue marlin, and it was my friend John’s turn at the rod. The fish came up and took the bait and was hundreds of yards behind the boat before the boat was in full reverse and on its way backing down on the fish. Then the big fish went straight down and Wilson began cranking.

After a long battle, the huge blue marlin came straight out of the water entirely on the opposite side of the boat from where Wilson was fighting it! It cleared the water completely and threw spray everywhere when it landed. They eventually brought the blue marlin alongside, tagged it and released it. That fish was estimated to be 750 pounds and about 12 feet long end to end, and 10 feet “short measurement.”

“That was one of best trips I’ve ever been on–four blue marlin in two days with a little helicopter touring and some golf in between,” he said. “You’ve got to be on the water for 3 or 4 days to have a good chance of getting a blue, but you begin fishing only100 yards out of the dock in beautiful water that’s calm and close to shore.”

Well, that was enough to get me excited, so at Dickey’s invitation I booked a flight and flew over to Kona, where I stayed at the King Kamehameha Motel in Kona. What a trip! Fishing each morning in calm, fish-filled water and touring the island the rest of the time. And talk about food! There’s a huge array of things to eat on the boat, and evening meals were to dream about.

We caught some huge bull dorado, called Mahi-Mahi here in Hawaii, some yellowfin tuna and saw half a dozen big blues caught around us. It just wasn’t my day for the marlin, but we had a great time catching the bull dolphin and tuna.

All the boats out of our “fleet” there at Kona did well the two days we fished, weighing in marlin of 374, 246, 179, 229, 268, 162 and a monster 718-pound blue marlin, as well as mahi-mahi (dorado) of 42, 28, 27, 28, 40, 21, 36, 18, 17, 22, 40 and 22 pounds. Also caught was a 19-pound Ono and a 31-pound spearfish. The winter months are best for spearfish out of Kona, and many fly fishing aficionados head over here about now to try for a line-class spearfish world record.

One of the beautiful things about fishing over here in Hawaii is that no matter what time you want to get away on a Hawaiian vacation you will find good fishing out of Kona, and blue marlin are available year-round. On Super bowl Sunday one vessel captured a 1,218-pound blue marlin, currently the 6th largest fish on record and bumped captain Butch Chee of the Humdinger from the number 6 to number 7 position with his 1195-pound fish.

Captain Jeff Fay and Captain Butch Chee man the Humdinger, and they have over 3 decades of experience fishing these waters. They’re the only 3-time winners of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament‘s Henry Chee Award (yes, Chee’s dad, guess where he learned to fish?) and they have scored more total Hawaiian fishing tournament points than anyone in the history of the Hawaiian International Billfish tournament.

Humdinger Wins Hawaii Big Island Invitational Fishing Tournament


Kona, Hawaii – July 24, 1998  –  The highlight of this year’s tournament actually came during the final hours of the last day. In keeping with the old adage of “saving the best for last”, the veteran crew on board “Humdinger”, a 37′ Rybovich that consistently places in the top of every Hawaiian sportfishing tournament, managed to land a 634 lb. blue marlin that proved to be the largest of the fishing tournament. And, to make their victory even sweeter, it all happened within 18 minutes of “Humdinger” leaving the dock to make its final run of the tournament. That’s all it took for “Humdinger” to capture 1st Place Overall and bank over $34,000 in prize money.

The tournament began with Walter Hester’s team on “Maui Jim” tagging and releasing the only marlin caught or tagged during Day One.

Day Two saw “Maui Jim” take advantage of Day One’s momentum by boating a 550.5 lb. marlin. Later that morning, Steve Schumacher tagged a Marlin from his “Kila Kila” and Jeff Smith tagged one from his “Pamela”. Finally, in the afternoon, defending champion, skipper Tim Hicks, led angler Al Sullivan to a hookup with a 348 lb. marlin while on board “Illusions”. At the end of Day Two, the “Maui Jim” had earned $20,340 in daily prize money and the team on “Illusions” had received $19,800.

On Day Three, Ross Kraemer on board “Layla” started the morning off with a tag and release, but later “Kila Kila’s” Jason Holtz tagged the second marlin of the tournament and locked up the $5,000 for the most marlin tagged and released in the tournament.

Also, during the final day, Mike House of Honolulu reeled in a 428.5 lb. blue marlin from Maui’s “Start Me Up” with owner/skipper Doug Armfield at the helm. This fish held on to 3rd Place and received $17,190 in daily money as well.

However, before the day was out, world-famous Capt. Jeff Fay, refusing to be outdone by skippers from out-of-town, pulled a lunker out from hiding that was to rearrange the leader board for the final tally. Washington angler Joe Sewell wrestled with his 634 lb. marlin long enough to bring the leader within the grasp of veteran wireman Henry “Butch” Chee who iced the largest marlin of the tournament and gave the “Humdinger” team 1st Place Overall.

The Big Island Invitational features an entry format that allows for the base entry fee proceeds to support prize money for the top three point-tallying boats, as well as $5,000 for both the top tag and release boat and the team with the largest marlin of the event.

Prize money for the largest marlin of each day and additional cash awarded for the largest marlin of the tournament is generated from optional entry levels. “Humdinger” won 1st Place in points overall and was awarded $23,700. They also picked up $5,000 for the largest marlin of the event – both from the base entry fee category. In addition, Capt. Fay’s team earned daily money from the optional entry levels, totaling $5,400 for a total take of $34,100.

The 13th Big Island Invitational Marlin Tournament was the second competition in the 5-stop tour making up the Kona Marlin Tournament Series. Still unclaimed is a pair of brand new Caterpillar diesel engines, a special prize guaranteed by Pacific Machinery of Honolulu and reserved for the team catching the largest marlin of the Series weighing over 898 lbs.

The Kona Marlin Tournament Series awarded more than $340,000 in prize money in 1998. Organizers expect more than $400,000 in total awards in 1999. The next event on the circuit will be the 12th Annual Firecracker Open on the Fourth of July Weekend, followed immediately by the 7th Skins Marlin Derby in back-to-back weekends.

For more information on Hawaii fishing tournaments or Hawaii fishing charters onboard “Humdinger” in Kona, Hawaii, please contact Captain Jeff Fay at 1-800-926-2374 or (808) 936-3034 or EMAIL US.

Humdinger Captures Five Blue Marlin On Final Day To Win The 14th Annual T.A.R.T Tournament

Humdinger Captures Five Blue Marlin On Final Day

To Win The 14th Annual T.A.R.T Tournament

Humdinger wins 14th annual Tag and Release Hawaii Fishing Tournament

“Copyright 2000, Jim Rizzuto, Used with Permission.”

Kona, Hawaii — Team Humdinger, with Capt. Jeff Fay at the helm, won the 14th Annual T.A.R.T (Tag and Release Tournament) last week with one of the most spectacular days of fishing in local history.

“It was like pitching a shutout and hitting a grandslam homerun in the same inning to blow everyone else away, ” said T.A.R.T. sponsor Ken Corday. “In the space of about five hours, the Humdinger notched five blue marlin, including a 730-pounder. I can only remember three Kona boats catching five blue marlin in a single day and Jeff has now done it twice — both times in the T.A.R.T.”

The annual event is a five-boat competition with teams switching boats each day for five days. Prior to its historic last-day bonanza, the Humdinger had gone two weeks without a nibble. Friday, the crew of Fay and Capt. Butch Chee hosted Jerry Scottom, a professional freshwater guide from Bakersfield, California.

Chee brought along the spirit of his dad, and namesake, the legendary Capt. Henry Chee. The late skipper was among Kona’s pioneers and the originator of the plastic billfish trolling lures now in use throughout the world. Butch put two of his dad’s handmade creations from the late 1950’s or early 1960’s into the trolling pattern for the day. The 730-pounder hit a classic black “salt-and-pepper” lure first trolled four decades ago.

“They don’t take those classic lures out too often,” said Corday. “I told Scottom, a newcomer to billfishing, that he had just had the best day of fishing of his life and he had only been marlin fishing for a week.”

The Humdinger hooked its first four on the Keahole “grounds” on a day that looked dead. No bait showed as the boat trolled through areas normally teeming with skipjack tuna. Even when the Humdinger hooked fish after fish, the other boats nearby got nary a bite.

“Fishing is not a great spectator sport, but this was wonderful to watch,” said Corday. “The other ten or fifteen boats around Jeff became an audience. There he goes again!

“After he left the grounds flying four flags, we heard the camera boat announce his fifth marlin just like it was a ball game,” Corday said. “Over the radio we heard, “the Humdinger is hooked again and there is another one out of the ball park.””

Competing teams weighed three marlin and released and tagged five. In addition to the three tagged by the Humdinger, the Ihu Nui (Capt. McGrew Rice) and Pacific Blue (Capt. Bill Casey) each tagged one. The Chiripa (Capt. Bill Crawford) caught a 398, to add to the 730 and 237 on the Humdinger. The Northern Lights (Capt. Kevin Nakamaru) rounded out the field with the Huntress (Capt. Randy Parker) as press boat. “We had three or four other nice fish come off,” Corday said.

“Jeff has won the T.A.R.T five times in fourteen years, usually on the last day,” Corday said. “Three times, he won it in the last half hour of competition. He also caught five blue marlin in one day in T.A.R.T 7, seven years ago when I was the angler.”

For more information on “Humdinger”, please contact Captain Jeff Fay at 1-800-926-2374 or (808) 936-3034.

Be sure to check out Jim’s book, “The Kona Fishing Chronicles 1999”.  Also check out Jim’s series “Fishing Hawaii Style”.