LAHAINA - The "weekend warrior" Puff Daddy brought in a nice marlin weighing 567.5 pounds by Kameahou Blevins. He was fishing with his uncle, Capt. Dennis Blevins.
They were at the JJ-Buoy located 900 fathoms off the south side of Kaho'olawe hooking shibi. Dennis had been watching another boat drifting for quite a while, so he decided to head over to see if they needed any help. He made one loop around them, with them signaling that everything was OK.
Dennis headed back to JJ to make one more pass before heading home. He was about a half-mile away when the long rigger line came down. They didn't know what they had, but something was smoking the 200-test line off the 14.0 reel. Dennis was hoping it was a nice ahi.
Kameahou (left) and Capt. Dennis Blevins with their 567.5-pound marlin. Photo by Donnell Tate.
The fish ran for a couple of minutes, pulling off 300 yards before it showed itself. A marlin started jumping, going ballistic all across the surface. It looped around up the starboard side and then came back toward the boat. Dennis had to throttle the boat ahead to get away and pull the loop straight.
The marlin went down, then looped back around to the port side. Again, Dennis had to turn the boat and get out of there. He got the loop straight one more time as the fish headed deep, taking almost all of the line.
They were finally able to settle into the fight. Kameahou sat on the port side gunnel behind the reel and started working on his fish. This was his first marlin, so Dennis told him how to "Portuguese Pump" the line and reel, getting what he could.
Dennis had a hard time reversing after the fish, because his boat is a single screw and wants to hook to the left. He could reverse for a while, but then he would have to motor ahead to get the stern swung back around toward the line. With each change in pressure on the line, the marlin made short 50- to 60-foot runs.
Then it was back to reversing again, with Kameahou gaining that line back and a little more. Dennis kept up this get-and-take maneuvering for the next hour-and-a-half. Dennis told Kameahou to "just take his time, and we just work 'em."
With the marlin about 30-40 feet out, it started circling, trying to loop the boat. Dennis followed the fish, but they just couldn't get it close to leader. When they finally got it close to the boat, the marlin went under the side. They thought they were going to lose the fish.
Luckily, the marlin turned and came out on the same side. The line was all chaffed and there was grease on it from the shaft. Dennis told Kameahou, "We got to get past this line." They got that section of line on the spool with a sigh of relief. "We got a second chance on that one," said Dennis. "I thought it was gone. We should have lost it, really."
As the marlin continued to swim 30-40 feet out, Dennis watched to see what direction it liked to circle. Dennis doesn't have an autopilot, so what he did was wire the wheel, so they would loop around with the fish.
Dennis left the helm and went back to start hand-lining the marlin. It kept going clockwise with the boat as it circled around. Dennis grabbed the line and started slowly working the fish up a foot at a time. Each circle the boat made, the marlin got closer to the side of the boat. Finally, 30 minutes later, they saw leader.
Dennis grabbed the leader and held on as he watched the fish. When things felt right, he handed Kameahou the leader and told him to walk his marlin to the port side. Dennis got a solid shot with the fly-gaff to secure their catch. The fish didn't flinch a bit. It was tired, said Dennis. "We were all tired."
Then, it was the matter of trying to get the marlin into the boat. That took longer than the fight, mentioned Dennis. They tried everything to haul it aboard. They tied a rope to the bridge and pulled the marlin as far out of the water as they could, getting just its head and shoulders out.
Dennis had to jump into the water to get a tail rope on it so they could pull it up. They tried to horse the marlin around and roll it onto the swimstep. Nothing was working.
Dennis decided to tie it up with every rope they had and tow it back to Lahaina. He headed home doing ten knots, picking up a mahi on the way. They will be getting a lot of smoked marlin out of this fish.