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Reel Hooker catches largest blue marlin in almost two years

June 22, 2017
Lahaina News

LAHAINA - The Reel Hooker joined the 600-pound marlin club - and moved to the top of the billfish stats for the year to date - with a 697.6-pound blue by Chris Callahan. He was fishing with Capt. Ryno Fiedorowicz and deckman John Doe. This is also the largest blue marlin in almost two years.

Ryno had just left the harbor and was heading toward Kamaiki on the east corner of Lanai. He was in 30 fathoms of water, in the area known as "Papio's," as he talked to one of the other charter captains on the radio. All of a sudden, the center reel on the bridge went off with a Chad Quedding Toshi Tube lure on the other end.

Ryno handed the center rod down to John, mentioning that there wasn't much pressure on it. At first, he thought they had hooked an ono, being in that shallow of water. As soon as John got the rod to the chair, a marlin started jumping toward the starboard side, long rigger distance away.

Article Photos

Chris Callahan (left) and Capt. Ryno Fiedorowicz with their 697.6-pound blue marlin. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.

When the marlin jumped the first time, it was a series of lunges on its side, belly toward them. Ryno didn't get a good look at it, but he figured it to be about 200 pounds. The fish pulled out 30-40 yards of 100-test line and kept going back on itself, doing circles behind the pattern.

The marlin had its head out of the water, windshield-wiping its bill from side to side, but wasn't taking any line. Ryno was thinking, "You know what? This is going to be easy. We're in 30 fathoms of water; it only has maybe 200 yards of line out on us. Let's back up to it and throw it on board."

Ryno backed the boat down on the marlin the first 20 minutes of the fight to get right up on it. About ten minutes later, they had the fish to within 40-50 yards of the boat. As soon as they got up close to it, they could tell that they didn't have the head.

The marlin kept taking short runs on them, 30-40 yards, and wouldn't let them get close. They couldn't get the head turned. The marlin was only 30 yards from the boat. Ryno could see the fish and lure, but every time he would spin the boat to get ahead of it, it would circle around in the opposite direction.

Ryno mentioned that he spun the boat over a dozen times after it. "That's the most aggressive I have had to drive on a fish in almost ten years. It was a real mean fish," he said.

Ryno and John were thinking that the marlin looked nice, but they were still not sure how big it was. Almost two hours into the fight, Ryno told John, "It's not going to turn its head to the boat, and we're not going to get it coming with us. Let's try to take it with it swimming away from us."

John quickly taught one of the charters how to use the fly-gaff. "When the fish comes up, put the gaff over the shoulder and pull it toward you." Ryno had the boat just above idle reverse, 3-4 knots on the fish, as it continued to swim away from them. Ryno had to keep the boat at the same speed as the marlin, so they could get it close enough to gaff but not run over it.

The first time John got leader, he got tangled up in the line, yelling to Ryno, "I got bad wraps!" Ryno had to throttle the boat into full reverse just so John wouldn't get pulled overboard. John got the half-hitch wraps off his right hand just as the marlin took off on another 30- to 40-yard run. John couldn't hold it or turn it.

They got it back to the boat in about 5-10 minutes. John grabbed the leader again, taking a couple of solid wraps. It continued to swim away from them, with Ryno still in reverse. The marlin came up straight behind the boat with its tail underneath the port side corner. Ryno had to put that side into neutral with the starboard side still in idle reverse.

The first attempt by the charter on the gaff, he kind of slapped the fish. John held tight wraps on the leader long enough for the charter to make a second attempt, getting the fly-gaff into it. Ryno put the boat into neutral and came off the bridge.

The marlin was underneath the boat. John was leaning over, holding the fly-gaff rope on the port corner. Ryno asked him, "Where's the fish? I think we might have propped it off or something." John told him, "No, I still got it on here." They finally got the marlin to come from underneath the boat.

Ryno got a stick gaff into the tail, with John putting another stick gaff under the chin. They were able to bring the fish around and put a half-hitch on the bill with the fly-gaff rope. It took five of the charters to help pull it through the stern door.

Ryno mentioned that this was the first fish he has had to gaff backwards. He didn't want to have to do that again. They did prop the 600-pound leader but got the Chad Quedding Toshi Tube lure back.

This marlin had been caught before and gotten away, sporting a 12-inch healed rip along the top part of its tail from its second anal fin to its caudal fins. There was also signs of a healed scar from either a hook or hand gaff mid-body on its back.

 
 
 

 

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