LAHAINA - The Hinatea crew found themselves at the top of the blue marlin stats for the year, weighing a 755.2-pound fish by Rick Ford. He was fishing with Captains Neil Preston and Chris Wong.
Neil had the boat on a high-speed troll, doing 11 knots, as they headed to the HS-Buoy located on the south side of Maui. They were between McGregor Point and Molokini Crater, in 40 fathoms of water, when they had a strike on the funnel head jet running on the third wave.
At first strike, Neil thought they had picked up another ono. Just ten minutes earlier, they had landed an ono on that same lure. They had put that lure back out, even with the skirts a little "kapakahi" from the previous ono.
Neil watched the 130-class reel sing as the fish kept going, and going, running out 500-600 yards. Then he saw the fish jump and knew it was a marlin. It leaped in a big circle, getting airborne 5-6 feet out of the water on several jumps.
Neil was super aggressive on the fish, backing the boat "full-rack" reverse to get as close as he could, as quick as he could. Chris pushed the drag lever right up to 30 pounds of pressure. It was an ono lure, and he didn't want to mess around with only 400 test leader to work with if it went deep.
The marlin stayed on the surface the majority of the fight. Rick got on the fish and "whooped up on it," mentioned Chris. Neil got the boat up to it and got tight on it.
As they got the marlin about 150 yards from the boat, it dug down, making a couple of 50- to 100-yard runs. They still had a good angle on the fish. The rod was "humped" over the rail, pulling Rick up in the chair. To bend one of those 130 "broomsticks" showed the pressure the fish had on them.
They tried a couple times to put the reel into low gear. There was so much tension on the line that Chris was having problems switching gears. Finally, Chris was able to get it into low gear. That's when Rick was able to crank, crank, crank.
Neil stayed on the marlin until they had it to double line. He said, "I put the heat on it and hoped for the best." It made one more short run out past the double line.
When Rick got the fish to leader, Chris shouted, "I got color on it."
As it came up, Chris knew he had to get it now. "He never let the marlin get anything. Once he had leader, that was it," mentioned Neil.
It came straight up off the stern swimming in the prop wash. Chris grabbed leader and started wrapping immediately. He took it over to the starboard corner and got another wrap.
The marlin wanted to dig down toward the port side, so Chris kept taking wraps the entire way, and then walked it back around to the starboard corner. As he got it up higher, he kept taking more wraps.
"Pretty smooth at leader," mentioned Chris. The marlin just gave up, with Neil able to slip the fly-gaff up into the gill plate to secure it.
It took all three of them awhile to haul the beast through the stern door.
This is the second largest blue marlin so far this year for Maui, and the largest blue marlin so far for the Lahaina fleet.