LAHAINA - The Start Me Up Cuz landed a record-sized ono weighing 62 pounds. They were on a morning four-hour trip, heading back to Olowalu where there had been bites the day before.
Craig started working the inside ledge in 30-40 fathoms, "mowing the lawn" back and forth. He noticed a current line out on the 50-fathom marks with debris, so he headed in that direction. As they made their first pass on the ledge, they got bit.
The fish ate a Steve Elkins greenback Junior Popsicle lure on the long gone position. It pulled out the 100-test line pretty quick, about 100 yards, before it slowed down. They didn't know exactly what they had because of the blind strike.
John French (left) and Capt. Craig Schuler with their 62-pound ono.
Once Craig throttled the boat down, it slowed the rapid loss of line. John had light mahi/ono drag on the reel, with the line slowly trickling off the spool. Their angler couldn't seem to gain any line until Craig had the boat in neutral.
With them needing to keep the line tight, Craig put the boat back in gear idle ahead. They started to slowly lose line again, so John bumped up the drag a bit. Once John got the angler into a rhythm, they started gaining line. The fish never made another run, and they weren't losing any more line off the spool.
About halfway back to the boat, rubber band distance away, they thought they might have hooked a big spearfish. There was nothing up on the surface, and the line was going slightly down. The fish never acted like an ono - no blistering runs or head-shakes.
In about five minutes, they had the fish to double line. The fish was swimming with them as it came in off the port corner. As the fish got closer to leader, John saw the wide silver/gray vertical stripes and knew it was a fat ono. It didn't do anything until John grabbed the leader. He had it about halfway in off the port corner when it lit-up, realizing something was wrong.
The ono shot up the side of the boat like a torpedo toward the outrigger. John was still holding on to the leader as Craig throttled the boat ahead to stay in front of it. Before John realized, the ono had its head turned out away from the boat and headed down.
John had to let go of the leader as the ono took off 20-30 yards. They got it back up to leader a couple of minutes later off the port corner again. John grabbed leader, took double wraps and pulled it up. He held it there until Craig could come down to gaff.
Once they saw how big it was, John got a second gaff into it. Making sure that none of the charters were in the way, they had to take 4-5 steps backward as they pulled before the ono finally came over the side and slid onto the deck.
This is the 13th largest ono weighed in Lahaina Harbor since 1984 and the largest since March 2010.