LAHAINA - The Hinatea landed a lucky catch for wahine angler Audry Morris: a marlin weighing 400.2 pounds. She was fishing with Capt. Chris Wong and deckman Peter Wong.
They were coming in from the K-Buoy and were 300 fathoms off the Palaoa Point Lighthouse, on the southwest corner of Lanai, when they lost their starboard engine. As Peter checked for the problem, Chris continued to troll home. They had a knockdown on the long rigger position, with a marlin screaming off 50 yards of line before coming off. This got everybody's attention.
About five minutes later, they had a strike on the long gone position. Right at the bite, the marlin jumped 4-5 feet completely out of the water. They realized they had a big fish hooked.
From left, Audry Morris, deckman Peter Wong and Capt. Chris Wong with their 400.2-pound marlin.
The marlin took off across the pattern, smoking the 60-pound test line off the 50-class reel sideways off the rod tip, before Chris could get the boat turned toward the fish. It ran for 700 yards before it slowed down, with Chris seeing gold on the spool as he looked down from the bridge. The marlin almost spooled them, with less than 50 yards of line left on the reel.
Chris couldn't back up straight on one engine. At first, he tried to circle around on the fish but was losing too much line. He then turned the boat and chased after it, because he had control going forward. With a big loop in the line, Peter grabbed the rod from Audry, leaned over the port side and stuck the rod down under the boat to keep the line from rubbing across the bottom.
The marlin stayed on the surface as they chased after it for about 15 minutes, with Peter gaining a third of the spool back before the fish slowed its run. Once the marlin settled down, Chris spun the boat back around. Peter handed Audry the rod and finished clearing the rest of the lines.
Audry began to work on her fish. By the time they got everything straightened out and the marlin behind the boat, it went down.
Chris knew he couldn't back up on the fish, so he had to throttle the boat forward, getting sideways a little bit, then punch it in reverse to get it straightened out. He tried to keep a good angle on the fish as Audry got into a rhythm of lifting the rod and gaining some line.
Chris kept up the zigzag, back and forth movements at least 100 times over the next 30 minutes. To try some different maneuvers, Chris bumped the boat in and out of gear as he motored forward to try and plane the marlin upward. He even tried to circle on the fish as it got closer.
Audry started to tire, but Peter told her that the marlin was right there. She powered through the pain. They had it to leader several times, with it almost within reach, but Peter couldn't grab the line. Every time the marlin saw the boat, it got scared and pulled off 20-30 yards straight down, with Chris having to throttle the boat forward.
Chris got back on the fish as Audry worked it to leader one more time. The last time to leader, the marlin came up swimming upright off the starboard side. Peter grabbed the leader as the fish tried to dig down under the corner.
Peter held on to the leader as the marlin headed to the port side. He walked it across the stern, taking wraps the entire way. Peter locked up in the port corner and held on to his wraps, as Chris got a securing gaff into the fish.
Fighting the marlin on one engine was quite a challenge, mentioned Chris. It was an epic battle. Upon inspection of the main line, it was chaffed with pigtails 12-15 feet up the line from running sideways off the rod tip at the strike. This probably turned the 60-pound test line into at least 30-pound test. Lucky.