LAHAINA - The Jun Ken Po weighed their third fish over 500 pounds for the year, this one coming in at 576.1 pounds by 17-year-old Nolan Johnson. He was fishing with Capt. Gabriel Rogers and deckman Dyllon Smith.
They were on a four-hour trip, making an ono run down to McGregor Point. Gabriel was heading back toward Lahaina, raising their marlin in 27 fathoms of water off Ukumehame. He saw the tail of a marlin come up on the long corner position. The fish knocked the line down off the rigger but missed the hook-up.
Dyllon teased the marlin several times, with no takers. Gabriel started to make a turn. Dyllon saw the fish come back up, its bill and head at the long rigger position. As its tail came up, it made a quick turn and bill-whacked the lure, hooking up.
From left, Nolan Johnson, deckman Dyllon Smith and Capt. Gabriel Rogers with their 576.1-pound marlin.
The marlin took off straight down the pattern, pulling 300-400 yards of 130-test line at a good pace. It stayed on the surface, making no jumps at all. Gabriel was pretty aggressive after the fish. He had a good angle on the marlin as Nolan got on his fish, getting it back to the rubber band distance in about 20 minutes.
Once the rubber band was at the rod tip, the marlin was straight down off the stern. She got into a zone, just sitting there, playing give and take with Nolan. Nolan would get ten feet, then lose 20 feet, out past the rubber band.
Dyllon bumped up the drag to 40 pounds of pressure but still couldn't budge it up.
Gabriel just sat there playing with the marlin, maneuvering the boat around as Nolan tried to gain some line. Sometimes the marlin would slowly grind line off the spool, or it would make quick rips down 20 yards. They were at a stalemate for about 45 minutes.
Finally, the marlin had enough give and take and began to come to the surface. Once they got the fish up, they saw how big it was, and that it was foul-hooked in the head. Luckily for them, it came up to leader pretty much on its side.
As Dyllon hung on to the leader, he could see just a little piece of skin holding the hook. He shouted out, "Gabe!" Dyllon slowly eased the big fish up. Gabriel was there to secure the marlin before the hook pulled out. The fish took them over six miles, out toward deeper water, during the two-hour-and-thirty-minute fight.
The hook had snagged the marlin at the bill-whack on the edge of the upper jaw, but not hooked itself in the mouth. You could see where the hook popped off and the tip slid up the bill, digging in over the top of the eye until the barb finally sunk in deep enough to stop the slide just above the gill plate.
For catching a marlin over 500 pounds, Start Me Up Sportfishing gave Nolan his trip for free. They also donated $300 to The Kiwanis Club of Kahului as part of their charity donation program for a marlin caught over 500 pounds on one of their boats.