LAHAINA - The Desperado recently weighed a 421.5-pound blue marlin by 14-year-old Hunter Smith. He was fishing with Captains Dan Shaffer and Rich Lynch and his dad, Allen.
They were working the backside ledges off Lanai between the NASA and K-Buoys. There was a strong current with no floaters, scattered birds and nothing really going on. Rich was in the tower as Dan drove from the bridge.
Rich saw a dark spot coming up from the deep just below them, getting bigger and bigger. All of a sudden, there was a big marlin there. He shouted out, "Marlin, long corner!" Dan looked back and saw the marlin chasing the Steve Elkins "popsicle" lure.
From left, Allen and Hunter Smith, Dan Shaffer and Rich Lynch with their 421.5-pound blue marlin. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.
Rich scrambled down from the tower to the long corner rod. With the line rubber banded to the rigger, he couldn't drop it back, so he cranked the line down to the rod tip, then free-spooled it back up the rigger. He did this several times, trying to tease the marlin to strike.
The marlin swam away from that lure and came across to the center position after a blue Lee Aoki bullet lure. With that rod on the bridge, Dan teased it back and forth at least a dozen times for about 3-4 minutes. The marlin would come in, bill-whack the lure and make quick grabs on it, but it wouldn't take it.
This finicky fish then came over to the short rigger position and started messing with the purple Softhead lure. It chased it around for 400-500 yards, bill-whacking it like the rest of the lures, but wouldn't commit to strike. Rich dropped the lure backward and then quickly cranked it in several times to tease it up.
The marlin disappeared for a few seconds before coming back up and finally grabbing the lure. It took off on a medium speed run, putting a good bend in the 80-class rod. Dan let the fish run, with Rich getting the short corner line cleared before Dan slowed the boat.
Rich got Hunter into the chair and continued clearing the rest of the pattern. The marlin ran 300-400 yards before it came up jumping, putting on a good show for about five minutes as it danced away from them. Dan reversed the boat faster and faster, with Rich bumping up the drag until they got the line loss stopped.
The marlin stayed up on the surface for the next 20 minutes swimming back and forth. Dan had the boat idle reverse as Hunter gained as much line as he could, packing about 300 yards back on the spool. Lucky it wasn't windy, mentioned Dan. It was lumpy, but nice and glassy.
They had the marlin about 200 yards from the boat when it decided to head straight down. Suddenly, about a five-foot white-tip shark started swimming around the boat. They were somewhat worried that the shark would hit the line and break them off.
Rich grabbed a bait rig and rigged up a rainbow runner they had in the box. He clipped the line to a white Clorox jug and tossed it to the shark. Once the shark was hooked, they could keep an eye on it as they fought the marlin.
For the next 15 minutes, it was give and take for Hunter. The marlin made a couple of 100-foot runs as they got it closer, spooked by the shark swimming around the boat. As they got the fish to double line, it started swimming aggressively from side to side behind the boat.
Dan wanted to keep the marlin on his starboard side as he made a small circle with the boat. It came up on the starboard side, away from the shark, as Rich grabbed the leader. The marlin came right to him.
Rich took several wraps with both hands as he pulled the fish to the boat. He reached down and grabbed the bill. Dan placed the fly-gaff under the gill plate, securing their catch. The fish was tired, rolling onto its side, making it a little difficult to get it subdued.
Rich placed a half-hitch around the bill and pulled the head up out of the water. He and Dan both hauled the marlin over the rail. This is the second largest marlin of the year-to-date for the Lahaina fleet.