My Hunt for Big Fish on the Camelot

Chris Hudson preparing-lines

I pen this article while sitting on the lanai of my room at the Royal Kona Resort, my home away from home during my stay here in the Kailua-Kona area of the Big Island of Hawai’i.  With a cold Longboard ale in one hand and a pen in the other, I review the morning’s events as I watch the waves crash on the rocks below me.  Many things brought me here, one of which was the lure of big fish and the thoughts of possibly catching one.  I made the dream of fishing the waters off Kona a reality this morning aboard the Camelot.

Based out of Honokohau Harbor, Camelot Sportfishing is just one of the many fishing services that I could have enlisted, but I decided to book my four hour trip with them for a couple of reasons.  My first reason was their reputation of putting people on big fish such as ahi (tuna), ono (wahoo) and of course, Pacific Blue marlin.  Second was the fact that Camelot Sportfishing is a family owned and operated business.  Both Robert and Cyndee Hudson are licensed captains and have been professionally fishing the waters off of Kona for 25 years.  All of their children have worked on the boat as a deckhand at one time or another.  On this morning trip our deckhand was Chris Hudson, the son of the boat’s owner.  Chris told me that he’ll be taking the test for his captain’s license in the very near future.  To have a future captain running the deck is a good feeling.  Our skipper was Captain Carl, who is a longtime friend of the Hudson family.  Over the years I have purposely looked for those businesses that are family owned and operated.  They have a vested interest in whether you have a good time or not.  For months prior to this trip I had been communicating with Captain Robert Hudson, both by email and phone.  I liked what I heard and this trip came to be.  One thing I really liked was that there was no guarantee of catching fish.  Fishing is fishing and sometimes, despite best efforts, it just doesn’t happen.  Camelot Sportfishing targets big fish, period.  If you want to just catch any fish, then this is not the charter for you.

I met the crew and the other five members of today’s fishing party at the dock around 6:15am for a 6:30am departure.  This was the first Pacific fishing experience for this East Coast boy and there was a great deal of information to take in.  Before casting off, our captain went over all of the safety rules and regulations.  He also emphasized the ship’s rules about getting sea sick.  I don’t believe I need to elaborate on this point.  While the captain went over the rules, Chris was busy making our gear ready.

The Camelot is a very clean and comfortable 34 foot vessel powered by twin 170 diesel engines.  The crew paid special attention to keeping the deck clear and made sure that we all knew what to do if a fish hit.  We were allowed one rod per angler and as soon as we left the harbor Chris was running the lines out.  Some of the lines were running bait, which included both flying fish and balihoos, while the other lines were rigged with lures made and designed by Chris.  Chris took special pride in these lures and told me that all of them have taken fish.  Having confidence in your gear goes a long way in my book.

Our equipment consisted of Penn International reels, both 130s and 80s.  The 130s were spooled with 130 pound test monofilament and, as you have already figured out, the 80s were spooled with 80 pound test mono.  Onto this line was attached a 150 to 550 pound test monofilament leader, the size of the leader depending upon the line size being used and the fish we were after.  There were also two smaller Penn reels spooled with 50 pound test monofilament.  I had asked Chris why so many different sets being run at the same time?  He informed me that off the Kona Coast, you never know what will hit whatever you are offering, so you have to be prepared.

As there were six rods, each one being rigged a little different and run at different distances from the boat, each of us drew a number between one and six, with each number corresponding to a certain rod.  Every so often Chris would have us rotate rods, thus giving each angler equal time on each rod.

With our lines set, the only thing to do now was wait for things to happen.  I took this opportunity to climb up to the bridge and discuss tactics with our captain.  Carl explained to me that we were to start by cruising the inner waters, about 2 miles outside of the harbor, searching for ono, mahi mahi and ahi.  With that being said, he went on to tell me to be prepared for marlin, as catching one in this close has happened more than once.  Our trolling speed was around 8 knots, much faster than what I am used to.  Carl explained that the big fish cruise fast and will chase the baits down.  While we talked I noticed that Carl kept us in 40 to 60 fathoms of water.  With the aid of electronics, we searched for baitfish.  Where there is baitfish there are usually other bigger fish that eat them.  From our vantage point high above the deck we were also watching for feeding sea birds, another indication of baitfish in the area, and a technique I was used to.

After two hours without a strike, the decision was made to head further out to the four mile mark, into deeper water.  It didn’t help.  In no time our four hour trip was over.  Was I disappointed?  I would have to say yes.  Any angler gets disappointed when they don’t catch fish.  A true angler knows and accepts the fact that there are going to be days when you will blank out.  It happens to all of us and it is part of the game.  I was more than satisfied with the effort put forth by the crew to get us on fish.  They could not have tried any harder.  Carl and Chris were fun to be with and they kept their cool despite the fact that we weren’t on fish.  Carl was even calling other captains out on the water and they were all having the same luck we were having.  If I ever make it back to the Big Island of Hawaii I will certainly book another trip with Camelot Sportfishing as they are truly professionals.


For more information contact:

Camelot Sportfishing

Capt. Robert Hudson

(808) 936-9515


Royal Kona Resort

75-5852 Alii Dr

Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

(808) 329-3111





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