LAHAINA - The Die Hard joined the 200-pound ahi club with another record-sized "toad" yellowfin weighing 217.1 pounds. The father and son team of Dan and 14-year-old Coulter Smith were fishing with Captains Fuzzy Alboro and Sam Thies.
Fuzzy made the buoy run from NASA down the ledge to MC, and then headed inside to the K-Buoy five miles off the southwest corner of Lanai. As they reached the buoy, the area around it looked good. There was an iwa bird flying above and something breaking the surface ahead. It was a school of porpoises.
Fuzzy reached the school and made a pass. Nothing. Suddenly, the porpoises started "porpoising" across the surface off the starboard side. Fuzzy saw another charter boat heading toward them, so he decided to cut across in front of the school. That's when they got their double bite on the port side of the pattern.
From left, Dan and Coulter Smith, Capt. Fuzzy Alboro and Capt. Sam Thies with their record-sized tuna. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.
The short rigger went off first, followed by the long rigger. Dan was standing next to the long rigger rod, so he sat down on the gunnel behind it and started cranking. Coulter got in the chair with the short rigger rod.
As soon as Sam cleared the rest of the lines, Fuzzy put the boat into neutral so they could get both fish under control. Coulter's ahi came off pretty quick. Sam got him out of the chair and got Dan in, handing him the long rigger rod.
Sam had double-banded the rigger line. It was sliding through the wraps but never broke the rubber band. Finally, Sam was able to break the rubber band and release the line. The friction of the line through the rubber band could have burned the line to break. Sam got Dan into the fighting harness and had him ready to rock.
The ahi ripped out the 125-pound test line off the 80-class reel straight down, taking them halfway into the spool before it slowed its run 600 yards deep. Fuzzy was "dead boat" as Dan cranked like crazy trying to gain some line. After about ten minutes, he needed a break.
Sam got Coulter back in the chair and harnessed up. Sam put the reel into 1:1 ratio and got Coulter to pump the ahi up a half-a-crank at a time. It was give and take, give and take, losing more line than they were gaining. Fuzzy pushed up the drag to at least 80 pounds of pressure.
Coulter ran into a bit of a stalemate for a while. Fuzzy switched the reel into 1:3 ratio, as Sam helped by hand-lining the fish. Coulter began to get a few turns on the reel and gained some line. Things were looking good. All of a sudden, the line started coming in too easy. Sam quit hand-lining, pushed up the drag and switched the reel back to 1:1 ratio, with Coulter gaining a lot of line quickly.
Twenty-five minutes into the tug of war, the ahi finally came up easy and tired off the starboard side. Sam got a look at it and shouted, "Whoa!" As the ahi moved straight behind the stern, it rolled right over onto its side. It just swam with the boat for a while and then righted itself.
Fuzzy had the boat idle ahead as Sam grabbed the leader and started to ease it in. The ahi still had some energy left, dug down and pulled the line through his hands a couple of times. Sam knew this fish was 200 pounds. He kept pulling up the leader until Fuzzy was able get a head shot with the gaff. Sam placed a second gaff under the gill plate, and they hauled it over the rail.
The quickness of the 35-minute fight was not fully realized until everyone got a look at the huge yellowfin "Allison" tuna lying on the back deck. It was six feet, five inches long. This is the eighth largest for Lahaina Harbor and the sixth largest for a Lahaina Charter Sportfishing boat since 1977. The charter boat record is 225 pounds landed by Larry Burdick aboard the Halcyon in 1980 with Capt. Dave Rockett and deckman Peter Wong.