LAHAINA - A surprisingly rare catch was boated aboard the Desperado right outside Black Rock point (Pu'u Keka'a), with Krystal Nichols landing a 54.1-pound sailfish. She was fishing with Capt. Dan Shaffer and deckman Capt. Rich Lynch.
They were on a full-day charter, with Dan fishing the N-Buoy 14 miles off Cape Halawa, Molokai. They picked up a couple of mahi at the buoy and then trolled all the way back to Maui with no more bites. As they neared Kaanapali, Rich started clearing the lines.
Rich had already cleared the short side of the pattern as they reached Black Rock. They were about 100 yards from shore, in 35-40 feet of water, as Dan headed toward his mooring. Rich was clearing the long corner position when, all of a sudden, the long rigger line came out of the clip right above his head.
From left, Krystal Nichols, Capt. Dan Shaffer and Capt. Rich Lynch with their sailfish.
Dan heard Rich shout and looked back, seeing a dorsal fin cutting across the surface, thinking it was a good-sized mahi. Rich was right by the 80-class rod, free-spooling the reel for a few seconds, and then locked it up halfway.
The fish started jumping away from them, 150-200 feet, angling in toward the moorings, coming about 30 feet from one. Dan immediately thought it was a striped marlin or a small blue. Dan had the boat two engines idle ahead for 7-8 minutes, trying to maneuver out of the roadstead, before the marlin stopped jumping and settled down.
Rich got Krystal in the chair right away. Being a first-time angler, it took her awhile to calm down. Rich got her into a rhythm of dropping the rod down as she cranked and slowly pulling it back up.
Dan put the boat one ahead as Rich got the remaining two lines cleared. At that point, Dan started dodging mooring balls as he began to slowly idle reverse the boat. The marlin came in fairly easy, with Krystal cranking in her fish in about 15 minutes.
At about the short rigger position, Rich told Krystal to just point the rod and crank it in, and not to pump the rod. The fish was right behind the boat by then. Not until it was 30 feet away did they realize it was a sailfish.
They brought the fish right up between two mooring balls in about 25 feet of water. Dan put the boat one engine idle ahead. Just before leader, the marlin made a couple of small jumps out of the water, shaking its head from side to side. Once it settled down, its sail popped out, with Dan shouting "sailfish!"
As soon as Rich grabbed the leader, Dan went back to two engines idle ahead. The sailfish came right to the boat, with Rich guiding it up the port side. Dan gaffed it with a mahi gaff, and Rich grabbed the bill. They both pulled it into the boat.
The tourists on the beach got a good show as they watched the fight. Who would have thought of getting a marlin bite at Black Rock, much less a rare sailfish? This is the first sailfish of the year. There were three caught in October of 2012.