LAHAINA - New Year's Day saw an almost 500-pound marlin weighed, with the Hinatea starting off 2014 with a 499.6-pound blue by the father and son team of Jeff and Taylor Schoenekase. They were fishing with Captains Neil Preston and Chris Wong.
They were heading in from a full-day charter when, in 120 fathoms off Black Manele, Lanai, they raised a fish. It was a blind strike on a Scott Crampton red eye tube running behind the squid chain teaser on the third wave.
The fish grabbed the lure and took off across the surface, cornering away from the port side. Nobody had seen the fish, but it was peeling out the 130-test line at a steady pace. "It's probably a blue," shouted Neil.
From left, Capt. Neil Preston, Jeff and Taylor Schoenekase, and Capt. Chris Wong with their 499.6-pound marlin caught on Hinatea.
The marlin started ripping line; then, about 200 yards out, it began jumping. Neil thought it looked about 400 pounds. It was tail-walking in a big circle off the port corner, kicking up a lot of whitewater.
Jeff got into the chair first. Once the marlin settled down, it stayed on the surface, with Neil casually reversing the boat after it for the next ten minutes as Jeff gained line. As Neil eased the boat closer, he could see the fish, but each time he got to a certain point near it, it would rip out 20-30 yards of line. Neil thought, "Okay, we'll wear it out some. It's a nice fish on 130, so let's take our time and wear it out."
They finally had the marlin to leader in about 40 minutes. The first time to leader, the fish was still real green, lit-up neon purple-blue. Chris couldn't take a wrap on the leader, because when he touched the line, the fish kicked down past double line.
The next time, Chris had to get really aggressive and began taking back wraps on the leader. Once he started to make headway on it, getting it up, it cut down right under the boat, trying to do a pinwheel underneath like a big tuna.
At that point, Neil had to gun the boat ahead, with Chris having to dump the leader. There was nothing Chris could do. The fish was too green and hot to handle. Chris could have tried to hold onto the leader, but he didn't want to take a chance and pop the line or pull hooks.
Neil kept playing the marlin from one side to the other. The fish was right there. Neil would idle back on it, but as soon as Chris wrapped up on it and started to lean back, it would flash all lit up and dig down.
No matter what side they got the marlin up on, it continued to cut back under the boat. Chris had to dump the leader 5-6 times over the half hour tug-of-war. It did the same thing every time, running out just past double line; it was regroup and try again.
After about an hour of playing give-and-take, the marlin got mad and ripped off around 200 yards of line straight out across the surface. They had backed off the drag, so Neil told Chris to push it up to the pin to 30 pounds of pressure. He wanted to put some heat on the fish and gain line.
Jeff had his shot on the fish, and he was done. It was his son Taylor's turn in the chair. He had watched his dad and listened to Chris coaching him, so it only took him about five minutes to get into a rhythm.
Neil continued to reverse the boat after the marlin. Taylor had it close in about 20 minutes. As they got it to double line, it crisscrossed back and forth across the stern, taking them in and out of double line several times.
The marlin came up to leader on the starboard side. They could tell it was tired. The color was different, more blue-black. Chris didn't even take wraps on the leader for the first couple of pulls. He then took a couple of wraps to hold it steady as it kicked slowly with the boat, but it didn't have anything left. Neil came off the helm to help secure their catch.
This marlin had been hooked before. It had a longline circle hook embedded in its bill, with about ten feet of leader wrapped around its body.