LAHAINA - The Desperado was back at the loading dock hoist, this time with a 465.6-pound blue marlin for newlywed couple Barry and Megan Lofton. They were fishing with Capt. Rich Lynch and deckman Billy Burnett.
Rich was on the backside of Lanai, off the "Slides," coming in toward Kaumalapau Harbor. Just as he crossed the 200-fathom ledge, they had a strike on the purple Softhead lure running on the short corner second wave.
The marlin took line like a good-sized fish for about 20-30 seconds. Billy got Barry into the chair, handed him the 130-class rod and started clearing lines. Suddenly, the reel stopped screaming.
From left, Megan and Barry Lofton, Rich Lynch and Billy Burnett with their 465.6-pound marlin.
Rich kept the boat motoring ahead, with Barry gaining line easily for several seconds. The rod tip was up, and the line was slack in the water. Billy cranked on the reel several times to see what was up, thinking the fish had come unhooked.
With that in mind, Billy took the rod out of the chair gimble and placed it into the rod holder. A few seconds later, the rod bent over and started ripping out line. Billy handed Barry the rod again as Rich continued to motor the boat forward.
The marlin ran out about 100 yards before it finally jumped, kicking up a lot of whitewater as it tail-walked across the surface. Billy finished clearing the lines as Rich began to reverse the boat after the fish.
The marlin continued to run at a steady pace, taking them way into the Dacron backing. The second set of jumps was 500 yards away, throwing up so much whitewater and spray that it looked like a little thunderstorm on the horizon.
They had a good angle on the line as Rich chased after the fish. They had the reel in high gear, trying to gain some line as the marlin continued to run. Barry tried to keep up the pace, but his arms started to tire, so Rich slowed the aggressive attack.
About 45 minutes into the chase, they finally lost the angle in the line, with the marlin headed down off the stern. They had only regained 100 yards in all that time. Barry started to run into a stalemate with his fish. Billy began to help him "Portuguese pump" the rod over the next 30 minutes until Barry ran out of juice.
Billy got Megan into the chair next. She was not prepared for what to expect and lasted about 15 minutes. Billy switched out in the chair with her. He got set-up into the fighting harness. With fresh arms and technique, he regained 100 yards pretty quick, in about 15 minutes.
With the rod arched over the stern, they ran into another stalemate with the marlin. Billy was pulling line with his left hand and cranking at the same time, trying to gain some line. Rich tried to plane the fish up a few times, but nothing was working. The line was pinging off the spool as the marlin continued to slowly pull line straight down.
About an hour-and-45-minutes into the fight, Rich put Barry on the helm and came down to help Billy. After figuring out the marlin wasn't moving, and was probably dead, they decided to "horse it" onto the reel. Billy dropped the rod into 1:1 ratio and pushed the drag over the button to sunset.
For the next 15 grueling minutes, Billy and Rich began a two-man "Portuguese pump," with Rich pulling down line with both hands from the first rod guide to the reel, as Billy pulled with his left hand, getting a half crank, one slow foot at a time. They finally got the mono back on the spool two hours into the fight.
They continued the two-man pump, gaining a lot of line back as the marlin began to rise. Fifteen minutes later, it popped up ten feet behind the boat, tail-wrapped and pretty much dead. Rich got a gaff into the tail, as Billy stuck it in the head and pulled it around to the stern to secure it.
Everyone was exhausted, and they couldn't get the marlin into the boat. After several tries, they pulled the head up as high as they could onto the stern and tied it off for the tow ride home.