LAHAINA - The Hoku #3 from Oahu won the 35th annual Lahaina Jackpot Fishing Tournament with a 265.3-pound blue marlin by Makani Christensen. He was fishing with Capt. Mike Sur.
Mike headed to the north shore of Molokai, working an area about 10 miles outside between Kalaupapa and Papalaua Valley most of the morning. They were looking for birds, bait, anything, but there were no signs of life. Mike headed back in toward Halawa Valley.
Since there is no fighting chair on the boat, Makani had the corner lines rubber-banded to the reels in the gunnel. Out of the blue, the long corner rubber band snapped. The marlin took off on a freight-train run, taking a half-spool of 130-test line before it started jumping.
It went crazy, jumping all over the place and taking another quarter spool during its surface display. Makani got two lines cleared before he had to go to work. Mike reversed the boat around the remaining line after the fish.
Mike didn't want to really back after the marlin. He wanted to keep tension on the line and let Makani crank it in from the gunnel. Mike turned the boat down-swell with the marlin and ran down seas one engine, slow ahead.
Makani dropped the reel into low gear and started cranking. He said there was a lot of "Portugue Pull" used during the fight. The marlin came right in about 30 minutes later, swimming along with them.
About 25-30 feet from the boat, the marlin came up jumping again. It headed for the boat then turned away, taking a little line. It must have gotten tail-wrapped at this point, because when Makani cranked it back in five minutes later, it came up backwards.
Mike kept the boat slow ahead, left the helm and grabbed the leader. Makani picked up the gaff and secured his fish. They used a come-along to pull the marlin into the boat. Both Mike and Makani said this winner-take-all $20,000 marlin was "redemption" for the winning Halloween Shootout marlin in 2009 being disqualified for shark bites.
This marlin must have been way inside feeding on the reef line earlier in the day, because it had two big papio and a small aku in its stomach.
The Pualele out of Maalaea Harbor took first place in the 34th annual Wahine Jackpot Tournament with a 246.1-pound blue marlin by Janice Walin. She was fishing with Capt. Kalei Luuwai and crewman Kalani Tom.
Kalei headed to the north shore of Molokai, working an area outside Halawa Valley near the N-Buoy. It was a blind strike on the short rigger position, with the marlin pulling out 500 yards of 130-test line before they could get it stopped.
The reel was smoking, mentioned Kalei. He thought it was a real big fish the way it ripped off line. Once Janice got into the chair, she cranked it right in. Kalei backed the boat in slow reverse, keeping the line tight. He thought something was wrong because this fish was coming in so easy. The tip of the rod was bouncing and jerking steadily as Janice hauled in her fish.
In no time, about 50-60 feet behind the boat, the marlin popped up. At first glance, Kalei thought the bill was sticking up, but it was the tail of the marlin. This fish was coming in backwards. Kalei shouted, "Tail-wrap, tail-wrap!!"
Kalei made sure to keep the line tight as Janice kept cranking. He didn't want it to come loose so close to the boat. The marlin was dead already as it came to the boat. Kalani grabbed the leader and carefully pulled it in. Kalei took the fly-gaff and secured the fish. They pulled the marlin up on the swimstep, tied it down and continued to fish.
The marlin must have missed the lure at the strike and hooked itself in the tail on the turn. It drowned itself by not being able to get enough water through its gills to breathe correctly.
Their winner-take-all marlin was worth $5,700 to the team.
The only other winning fish was aboard the Start Me Up Das It, with Juanita Linal tagging and releasing an estimated 125-pound blue marlin. She was fishing with Captains Denny Putnam and Randy Evans. Their fish was worth $1,000.