LAHAINA - The Finest Kind weighed the largest blue marlin of the year-to-date on Maui: a 760.3-pounder by the father/son team of Frank Sinito and his 14-year-old son, Frank Jr.
They were fishing with owner Capt. Dave Hudson and deckman Jimmy Francis. They had been working the Kaumalapau/Slides area on the backside of Lanai, following the 150-fathom ledge up to the Palaoa Point Lighthouse.
Dave was in the tower, spotting some birds and porpoise up ahead. As he watched the pattern, he saw the dorsal fin of a marlin pop up, cutting through the water as it swam up the wake of the boat. Its entire back was up on the surface, letting him know that it was a substantial fish.
From left, Capt. Dave Hudson, Frank Sinito, Frank Jr. and crewman Jimmy Francis with their 760.3-pound marlin. Photo by Donnell Tate.
Jimmy heard the rubber band snap on the short corner position. As he tuned around, he saw a big hole in the water where the vintage Steve Elkins blue-back Popsicle lure had been. Jimmy picked up the rod out of the gunnel and handed it to Frank Jr. sitting in the chair.
The two-speed, 80-class reel was slowly grinding off the 100-test line. It finally started to pick up speed, screaming like a cat as the marlin took off. About 100 yards behind the boat, the fish started head shaking and then got airborne, tail-walking back and forth and jumping sideways for at least 50 yards. It was violent, mentioned Dave.
The marlin continued jumping, pulling 350-400 yards of line, looking a little critical on the spool before it stopped. Once the marlin settled down, it stayed near the surface for the first hour. Dave didn't back after it that much. He let Frank Jr. crank his fish in at his own speed. Dave turned the boat down-swell and let the current float the marlin toward them, bumping one engine in and out of gear every few seconds to keep the line tight.
The marlin made another unbelievable series of spectacular jumps, coming back toward the boat and getting about long gone distance away. Jimmy thought they had lost the marlin when the line went slack, but Dave saw the lure hanging out of its mouth as it went berserk. With a big loop in the water, Dave throttled the boat ahead as Frank Jr. frantically cranked on the reel, with them finally getting the slack line tight. It was one of the meanest shows ever, mentioned Jimmy.
The marlin decided to head deep, taking them three-quarters into the spool before it stopped. They got straight up and down on it about 15 minutes later. There was little movement from the fish, and they thought it might be dead. With almost 30 pounds of drag on the reel, when Jimmy placed his hand on the spool, the spool stopped spinning. But when he took his hand off the spool, it started dumping line again as the fish sank deeper.
Jimmy put the reel in low gear, getting Frank Jr. into a lifting rhythm, with him getting cranks when he could. With the marlin about 200 yards deep, Jimmy began to aggressively hand-line the fish upward a foot at a time as Frank Jr. packed the reel. The adrenaline rush was starting to wear off on Frank Jr., so dad switched out in the chair the last half-hour of hand-lining.
The marlin started to rise quickly to the surface, coming up about 80 yards away. Jimmy saw its peck fin break the surface first, and then it rolled over onto its back, belly up. Dave quickly reversed the boat toward the fish as Frank cranked. It was swimming around all over the surface on its back.
Jimmy grabbed the double line and, hand over hand, pulled the marlin to the boat as it continued to swim upside down. It finally flipped over all "browned" out, as Jimmy held the leader and guided it up the starboard side. Dave secured the fish to end the two-hour battle.
This is the largest blue marlin for Maui since July 2011, when an 884.2-pounder was weighed in Lahaina. This fish was 14 feet from tip of bill to tail, with a 32.5-inch half shoulder girth and a 17.5-inch caudal circumference.