LAHAINA - Finally, after six-and-a-half months, Lahaina saw its first blue marlin of the year over 400 pounds landed aboard the Start Me Up Das It.
Joining the 500-pound marlin club was 17-year-old Kaleb Walters with a 536.4-pound fish. He was fishing with Capt. Denny Putnam and deckman Josh Hammond.
Denny had an estimated 150-pound blue up off the Palaoa Point Lighthouse on the southwest corner of Lanai the day before, and he decided to go back to work the same area.
From left, Kaleb Walters, deckman Josh Hammond and Capt. Denny Putnam with their 536.4-pound marlin. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.
He was just outside the 200-fathom ledge, southeast of the light, when he raised the fish on the short corner Steve Coggin blue-back scoop nose lure.
As soon as the short corner reel went off, Denny turned and watched as the marlin headed toward the boat. It made a turn toward the short rigger for a few seconds, then hung a U-turn and started jumping back toward the boat. It cleared the water 8-10 times, getting closer each jump.
Denny punched the boat ahead for several seconds, staying ahead of the advancing marlin. It finally settled down inside the short corner distance. As Denny slowed the boat, it turned right behind the stern and started taking out the 130-test line at a quick and steady pace.
The marlin came up jumping several times, about 200 yards away, and then disappeared. Josh got the lines cleared as Denny started reversing after the fish. Denny was fairly aggressive on the marlin, slowing the run of line off the spool.
The marlin didn't go too deep, maybe 200 yards down and out. Denny had a good angle on the fish and kept after it, with Kaleb gaining a lot of line. Denny continued to back on the fish until the angle of the line changed or Kaleb needed a break.
After about 20 minutes, they had the marlin to the long rigger distance from the boat. Josh pushed up the drag to 30 pounds of pressure as Kaleb cranked his fish to double line. The marlin was swimming back and forth across the stern 6-8 times as Kaleb winched it to leader.
As it came to leader, Josh went to grab the line, but the marlin pulled off a bit of line on a "last ditch effort" out past the double line.
Kaleb wrestled his fish back to leader a few minutes later. As the marlin crossed back and forth, Josh grabbed the leader and got it turned to the starboard side.
As Josh tugged the marlin up the side of the boat, it dug in hard, pulling the leader through his hands, burning the glove and his hand. He took a couple of big pulls on the leader, a final wrap, and called Denny down.
Denny had the boat one engine idle ahead as the marlin planed up off the side. Josh was "wrapped up" as Denny got it secured, with everyone pulling it through the door into the boat.
Denny mentioned that "they had a lot of 'juice' on her and never let her recuperate."