LAHAINA - The Start Me Up Again joined the 600-pound marlin club for the year with a 669.4-pound blue by David Dang and Seth Willer. They were fishing with Capt. Jason Duby and deckman Rob Cosgrove.
They were heading out on a six-hour charter and were just crossing over the 100-fathom ledge off Kamaiki Point, Lanai, when Rob saw a splash behind the long gone position. The marlin took a whack at the lure but missed it. A few seconds later, it came back up and grabbed it, hooking itself in the corner of the jaw.
The marlin took off, grey-hounding away from the boat for about 500 yards, then settled down. Rob cleared the pattern, and then Jason started reversing the boat aggressively after the fish. It stayed up for a while, with David gaining several hundred yards of 130-test line. Jason backed the boat right up on it before it went down.
They got the marlin up to where they could see it in about 20 minutes. Jason backed the boat right up to it. He put the boat in forward, circling around, trying to get it to go alongside the boat. The double line knot was just below the surface.
The marlin dug down, slowly grinding the line off the reel for a couple hundred yards straight down, and then stopped. David cranked it back up a short distance, with the marlin digging straight down once more.
Jason began to plane the marlin upward, but couldn't get its head turned as it slowly swam away from them. He tried circling on it, over and over, but nothing seemed to work. They thought it might be foul-hooked.
David was in a bit of a stalemate as the marlin began to slowly pull line off the spool as it sank straight down. Jason asked David if he could feel anything; if it was moving. David told him, "No, I think it's dead."
Jason left the helm, went down and started hand-lining the marlin for about ten feet to get a feel for the fish. He mentioned to Rob that he thought it was dead. The current was pushing them in the wrong direction, so Jason told Rob to start hand-lining the marlin up slowly as he maneuvered the boat.
Rob pulled on the line for about five minutes, gaining 50 yards. All of a sudden, Rob shouted, "Oh!" The pressure on the line changed, and it felt like he had pulled hooks. Jason idled the boat forward for a few seconds. When the marlin felt the pressure change on the line, it came back to life and took off straight down. It had been sitting down there resting.
They got the marlin back to double line in about 15 minutes. It was pretty docile, with David getting the double line knot just out of the water.
Jason looked over and saw a big piece of plywood on the surface not too far away. He shouted to Rob, "Look, there's a floater. Let's get this thing in, because I think there's a bunch of mahi right here."
Jason saw a big swirl around the plywood. All of a sudden, the marlin started to freak out. From underneath the plywood, a 400-pound mako shark came toward them. The marlin lit up like a neon sign and took off across the transom on a mad dash, reel-screaming run, jumping for 300-400 yards straight away, with the mako right after it.
The marlin turned and then came back toward the boat off the starboard side. It ran under the transom and started jumping on the other side, heading up the port side of the boat. Jason had to throttle the boat forward to keep the line out of the props and the fish from crossing the bow. The marlin turned away from the boat and went down.
Jason started chasing after the marlin again. Once Jason got back on the marlin, the mako came right back after it. The marlin took off again, running off at least 100 yards straight down. The mako started to go down after it but came right back up. Jason thought they were going to lose the fish.
At this point, they switched out anglers and got Seth in the chair. The mako kept hanging around and wouldn't leave, swimming around the boat for 5-6 minutes, waiting for the marlin to be cranked back up. The marlin knew it was there.
Every time Jason would get up to the marlin, it would take off. Jason was worried that the mako would nick the line and cut them off. The next time the mako crossed the stern, Jason quickly throttled the boat ahead to try to scare it away with the prop wash several times.
At one point, Rob tossed out a bait on another rod, hoping the mako would eat it, get stung by the hook and leave. Jason knew he had to do something, so he called up another boat and asked the captain where he was. He told him to come over and catch the mako to get it out of his way.
Jason lost sight of the mako but could tell it was still around, because out of nowhere, the marlin would scream off 100 yards of line straight down. It did this live-saving maneuver 3-4 times, staying deep at its comfort zone and not wanting to come up. Seth was in a bit of a stalemate, with the yo-yo, give-and-take battle with the marlin and mako.
They finally got the marlin back up and close to double line, with it circling around behind the boat for at least a half-hour. They could see the fish below them in its safety zone. Jason kept working the fish, trying to get in front of it, spinning the boat with it, changing the angle.
The marlin would come up to its comfort zone and sit there. When the mako came anywhere near the boat, the marlin would dig back down. The marlin associated the boat with the shark. This marlin-mako fiasco went on for 45 minutes. Eventually the mako left and swam back to the plywood floater to feast on the mahi.
Finally, Jason just backed the boat right over the marlin. Seth was finally able to crank the marlin to double line. Rob slowly pulled up the double line and grabbed the leader. He couldn't move the fish to get a wrap. It slowly started to rise, with Rob getting a wrap, then a second one, taking slow, easy pulls on the line.
The marlin walked Rob back and forth across the stern 3-4 times, with him getting wraps and pulls when he could. The fish was tired, swimming slow, but still pretty strong. Rob was finally able to get it up on the port corner and hang on as Jason secured the fish, ending the two-hour-and-forty-five-minute, grueling battle.
For catching a marlin over 500 pounds, Start Me Up Sportfishing gave David and Seth their trip for free. They also donated $300 to Women Helping Women as part of their charity donation program for a marlin caught over 500 pounds on one of their boats.