Denny headed out on an afternoon charter toward the Kaho‘olawe Shoals. They were about 35 minutes out of the harbor as Randy started to give the “fa-fa.” Denny was just a mile past “Secret Spot,” about six miles offshore between Launiupoko and Olowalu, in 240 feet of water, when they raised the fish.
Denny turned around to check the pattern and thought, “Whoa. What was that on the short rigger?” The marlin came across on the short rigger position and missed it. Two seconds later, it quickly turned and came back on the lure, missing it again. Denny started shouting, “Rigger, rigger, short rigger!” Before he could finish, the marlin came back on the short rigger and nailed the lure.
The marlin started jumping right toward the long rigger, then disappeared. It went past the long rigger position, turned and came back around on the lure. From where the fish went under the water, the distance was 30-40 yards away from each other, and it got there in a heartbeat.
The next thing Denny knew, there was a huge swirl on the long rigger position. As the line came out of the clip, a marlin started jumping back toward the starboard side. They thought they had two fish going.
Randy started clearing the remaining lines. At one point, in all the jumping, the two lines got crossed. Randy moved the long rigger rod that was in the chair over to the starboard side. He got John Phillips into the fighting chair, handed him the two-speed, 80-class short rigger rod that had been in the starboard gunnel and clipped him into the harness.
Randy had John Tyrrell sit on the port side gunnel. As he untangled the lines, he had John move to the single-speed, long rigger rod that was in the starboard gunnel. The lines seemed OK at that point. After a couple of minutes, they figured out they had only one fish double hooked on 100-test lines.
The marlin made a lot of jumps, but didn’t get more than 300 yards from the boat. It disappeared and then came right back at the boat, with both lines going slack. Denny shouted out “crank, crank” as he motored the boat forward. Both lines finally came tight. The fish did this back and forth run several times in a short length of time.
Denny was busy watching the lines, making sure they weren’t getting crossed and keeping an eye on the anglers at the same time. Randy made sure the lines were kept tight and a bow in the rods. The fish finally went down, with Denny reversing the boat after it and gaining quite a bit of line back quickly before he lost the angle.
The marlin stayed down close to the boat around 100 yards deep. If Denny tried to idle away from the fish, it would stay right with them, even if he reversed directions. The lines got crossed again, because of the way the fish was swimming. Randy switched John Tyrrell and the long rigger rod back over to the port side gunnel.
About 20 minutes into the fight, they had the rigger rubber bands come up. Denny stayed after the marlin, getting it to about 45 yards from the boat. It made a short run out and down around 50 yards.
Denny backed on the fish, keeping the lines angled off the rod tips and behind the transom. It was give and take for awhile, with the marlin pulling 40-50 feet, and them gaining 50-60 feet back, with the fish taking 10-20 more.
Randy put John Phillips’ reel into low gear and bumped the drag up a little bit. Randy had him try to lift the marlin, but it was dug in around 50 yards down in a stalemate. All John Tyrrell could do was keep his line tight from the gunnel.
Denny idled the boat forward to get a better line angle. As soon as he got an angle, he quickly reversed the boat, with them gaining some line. John Phillips started working the rod. Denny did this maneuver 5-6 times over the next ten minutes, slowly planning the marlin up, like lifting a dead fish.
All of a sudden, the fish quit taking any more line. Randy tightened the drags up a little more. This seemed to give them the lift they needed. Denny continued to idle ahead to get the angle and then reversed back on it, gaining more line. Having the marlin hooked on two rods gave them a little more insurance and a little more juice to put on the fish.
The rubber bands came up again, and they knew they had the fish close. As Denny idle reversed after it, the line angle started to move out away from the stern. Denny could see the marlin about 60 feet away, 20 feet under the water, showing some color. It looked like it was coming up sideways, but it was just the angle the fish had on them.
The marlin wasn’t moving as it came to double line, just gliding along with the boat as they hauled it to leader. Denny reversed the boat to the fish as they kept the lines tight. The marlin was pretty dead as Randy leadered it up on the starboard side.
Randy didn’t even need a fly-gaff to secure their catch. He tried to grab the bill, but couldn’t lift the head up high enough with the leader. Denny got a gaff behind the gill plate and pulled, with Randy getting a couple of half hitches of gaff rope around the bill to help haul it through the stern door, ending the 40-minute fight.
This marlin is the largest of the year-to-date for Lahaina/Maalaea Harbor and Maui County. It is the largest marlin since June 2008 and the ninth largest for a Lahaina/Maalaea Harbor Charter boat. It is the 16th largest documented on Maui since 1972.
It was 13’8” from tip of bill to end of tail, with an 11’2” short length. It had a 34-inch half-shoulder girth, a 33-inch half-anal girth, with a 19-inch caudal circumference.
For catching a marlin over 500 pounds, Start Me Up Sportfishing gave them their trip for free and made a $300 donation to charity.
From left, Capt. Randy Evans, John Phillips, John Tyrrell and Capt. Denny Putnam with their 884.2-pound marlin.