Timster was heading to the SO-Buoy located ten miles off the southwest corner of Kaho‘olawe on an afternoon charter. They made the inline run by the LA-Buoy area off Olowalu, where a few marlin bites had been earlier in the day. The weather came up, so going to the SO-Buoy wasn’t going to be fun.
Timster angled the boat west toward the Palaoa Point Lighthouse on the southwest corner of Lanai to look for ono. They were straight off Manele Bay in 175 fathoms when Chris saw the marlin come up on the long rigger lure. He shouted out, “Long rigger!”
Timster looked back to see what was going on. Right at that moment, Jerod raced over to the reel and started to push the drag lever down, trying to stop the fish, but instead pushed it toward free-spool. Timster couldn’t believe his eyes. He started screaming at the top of his lungs, “Don’t do that! Let go!!”
Chris was also yelling at Jerod as he got to the reel — before it went into a total free-spool bird nest — and pushed the drag lever back up to the strike button. They were less than a quarter-inch from a total major catastrophe and losing the fish.
A footnote to the situation: at the beginning of each charter, the anglers are instructed in what to do and not do. Don’t touch anything until you are situated in the fighting chair and the rod is in your hands. Never touch the drag lever, and most important, calm down and listen to what the crew is telling you to do.
The marlin pulled 300-yards of 130-test line on a solid run. Chris got one side of the pattern cleared as Timster began to reverse after the fish. After the initial “heart stopper,” Jerod settled down and did a great job fighting his fish.
Once Jarod was in the fighting harness, he listened to Chris, got into a rhythm and guided the line as they gained about 100 yards back. It was so windy and rough that Timster didn’t want to get too aggressive in reverse, but got the line stopped from coming off the reel.
The marlin was about 100 yards away when it made a second run on the surface. It came around in a big circular motion leaping back toward the boat. Timster was worried about the line and the fish jumping across it. He had the boat throttled forward, trying to keep the line tight as the marlin charged the boat.
The line came tight as the marlin finished its circle without breaking the line. It headed away from the boat as it made another surface run for 250 yards, kicking up a lot of whitewater. Timster reversed the boat in a casual approach, backing moderately after the marlin for the next 25 minutes as Jarod continued to gain line.
Timster got the fish pretty much straight up and down behind the boat. As he went into neutral, Chris put the reel into low gear. The marlin turned with the boat as Timster idled the boat forward. Jarod slowly worked the fish toward the surface.
Once the double line broke the surface, the marlin continued to rise. Chris grabbed the leader on the port corner. The marlin turned and took him to the starboard corner. Chris took a wrap and held his ground.
The fish turned and dragged him back to the port corner. Chris took a couple more wraps as the marlin switched back to the starboard corner. Chris took a few more wraps and was able to pull the fish up from there.
The marlin broke the surface, rolled over and was done. Chris called Timster to gaff, as they secured their catch.
Timster mentioned that in May of 1983, while fishing with Capt. Jack Huddleston aboard the Islander II, they weighed their first marlin over 600 pounds together, with angler Ray DeMello catching a 645-pounder.
For catching a marlin over 500 pounds, Start Me Up Sportfishing gave Jarod his trip for free. They also donated $300 to the Maui Humane Society as part of their continuing charity donation program for a marlin caught over 500 pounds on one of their boats.
From left, Jerod Koldeway, Capt. Timster Putnam (back) and crew Chris Kiser (front) with their 647.3-pound marlin caught on Start Me Up.