LAHAINA - The Start Me Up Cuz had a surprising strike as they headed in from a morning charter, landing a 65.1-pound sailfish by Joyce Denys. She was fishing with Capt. Craig Schuler and deckman John French.
John was watching the pattern when he saw a swirl on the long gone lure. He wasn't sure what it was, so as he headed to the rod to check it out, the line came down off the rigger clip. They had a light drag setting on the 80-class reel as the 100-test line started screaming off the spool.
The fish immediately started jumping, clearing the surface. John saw the extended dorsal fin and knew they had hooked a sailfish. Craig turned around as it made its second midair jump to confirm their hookup.
From left, Capt. Craig Schuler, Joyce Denys and crew John French with their sailfish caught on Start Me Up Cuz. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.
The sailfish made a series of 6-8 radical jumps completely out of the water, twisting and backflipping in all directions, belly up with dorsal sail out. It pulled out 100-125 yards jumping and running straight away from the boat.
It stayed on the surface, with Craig keeping the boat idled ahead to keep the line tight as John cleared the remaining lines pretty quick. With Joyce in the chair, Craig worked the boat one ahead, neutral, two ahead, allowing Joyce to get accustomed to the gear and get into a rhythm.
In about ten minutes, the swivel came up off the starboard corner. John didn't grab the double line but just waited for the leader. Craig kept the boat idled ahead as John made sure Joyce kept a smooth rhythm. Once the sailfish got to leader, John grabbed the line as it swam casually up the starboard side.
As Craig went for the gaff shot, it squirmed quickly up the side. John held on to the leader. Craig waited a few seconds until he saw that he had a clean gaff shot and took it. As soon as he stuck the fish, it flipped out. Its dorsal fin came straight out, lit-up bright purple with black spots, and lunged forward.
The sailfish kicked its head out of the water, with its bill coming above the cap rail. John grabbed the bill, dumped the leader and held on to the squirming fish. As it lunged out of the water, John and Craig pulled it right over the rail onto the deck.
This is the second sailfish of the year; the first was a 33.7-pounder in May. It is the largest sailfish since September 2010, when a 76.2-pound fish was weighed. On average, there are only 2-3 caught a year in Lahaina.