LAHAINA - The Start Me Up Cuz joined the 600-pound marlin club for the year, landing the largest blue marlin to date, weighing 634.8 pounds by Rodney Schwagel. He was fishing with Capt. Craig Schuler and deckman John French.
They were coming in from the Kahoolawe Shoals on a six-hour charter and were in 75 fathoms of water off Olowalu when they raised the fish. John watched as the marlin came in on a funnel head jet on the short corner position. Its dorsal fin was up, shoulders out, plowing water right behind the lure.
It came right in and picked up the jet, heading straight down the pattern. Just past the short rigger position, suddenly the reel stopped screaming. John cranked the lure back in a couple of cranks, free-spooled the reel (teasing the fish) and then cranked it back in again. The fish was gone.
From left, Rodney Schwagel, deckman John French and Capt. Craig Schuler with their 634.8-pound marlin. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.
As soon as John had the jet back to the short corner position, the long corner line came down. The marlin came right in and inhaled the Seaducer "Maka" lure. The fish didn't make a real aggressive run, maybe 300 yards, before making several small lunges, hardly making a splash.
The marlin stayed on the surface slowly swimming away from them. Craig had the boat in reverse, being not too aggressive as he chased after it, until Rodney got the hang of things and into somewhat of a rhythm. Once Rodney got it figured out, then Craig was able to throttle up in reverse.
They were in reverse a good 45 minutes trying to catch up to the marlin. Craig mentioned that if they were not in reverse, the fish was running away from them. Once they did finally get close to it, within 50 yards, it made a deep run.
Craig got the boat over the marlin. At that point, it was a bit of a feat to try and get in front of the fish. For the next 20 minutes, the marlin was down and dirty, making short, 20- to 30-yard runs straight down, then out, with some pretty good headshakes. It was in a classic big fish zone, yo-yoing up and down the last 50-60 yards.
It took about ten minutes as Craig maneuvered the boat while Rodney slowly inched up his fish in high gear. Once they finally got close enough to the fish, 15-20 yards out, Craig made a few maneuvers to try and get in front of it.
The marlin was pacing back and forth just past double line, but Craig couldn't get the boat in front of it. That was the problem. They were at a stalemate. They had the double line almost at the rod tip, with the marlin lit up bright purple-blue, swimming in slow loops away from them.
Craig maneuvered the boat after the fish for the next five minutes but couldn't budge it to get its head turned. John had the drag pushed almost to the button but didn't want to put too much pressure on the 100-test line.
John was almost able to reach out and grab the leader, but the marlin made a 30-yard run straight down. It was back into its zone, pacing back and forth as it swam away from them for another five minutes.
They worked the marlin up on the port side as it continued to pace back and forth. Craig tried one more time to maneuver the boat up and around it. John saw the fish turn its head straight down and dart right under the corner toward the props.
John had to dive to the port corner and just barely pushed the line out far enough to clear the corner, so it didn't hit the transom cap rail. He fell down on the deck as Craig throttled the boat ahead. The fish cleared the stern. It was the scariest thing John has seen and had to do on a marlin. Nobody realized how close they were to losing the fish, he said.
The marlin went right back to its zone, pacing back and forth away from the boat. Finally, all of a sudden, they knew they had her head turning. The fish started to tire and it began to come up a lot easier. Craig was able to get the boat in front of the fish.
As soon as the swivel came out of the water, the marlin was straight up and down, showing no color at all, swimming with the boat. Craig was idle ahead as John hand-over-hand pulled it up on the port corner the last 10-12 feet, just until he knew the swivel was at the rod tip.
The marlin was still digging straight down. John was having a little trouble lifting her up. He didn't want to try and get too aggressive, because it was only 400-pound test leader. For the next few minutes, he carefully took single wraps on the leader - wrap, pull, wrap, pull, a foot at a time.
The marlin finally popped up right off the port corner. She rolled onto her side as John guided her up the side of the boat. Craig got a securing gaff into their fish. That was it.
The leader was chaffed three feet up, with it milky for another ten feet. This marlin had been hooked before, with a longline circle hook embedded in the left corner of its jaw.
For catching a marlin over 500 pounds, Start Me Up Sportfishing gave Rodney his trip for free. They also donated $300 to a Maui charity as part of their continuing donation program for a marlin caught over 500 pounds on one of their boats.