Piper marlin ‘did everything just right’
MAALAEA — The Piper out of Maalaea Harbor put another marlin in the top billfish stats with a 424.4-pound blue by Rob Hytner. He was fishing with Capt. Jeff Kahl and crewman Ta‘ane Veine.
Jeff was making the ono run up the West Side of Maui toward Olowalu. There had been several marlin caught from the area over the past couple of days and a few marlin bites outside in the morning. Jeff decided to head outside and check out the action.
As Jeff worked the area, the rest of the fleet showed up. He looked back inside. Nobody was there, so he headed inside after ono. Ta‘ane put out a couple of jets on the riggers and a Steve Elkins, Jr. Popsicle on the long gone position.
They worked the area, picking up a couple of ono off Olowalu. As they were getting ready to head back outside, they raised a fish in 40 fathoms of water right off the point.
The fish hit the Elkins long gone lure and made a hard run. They thought it was a big ono, but it kept taking line (about 300 yards) to the point where you knew it was a marlin. Ta‘ane started clearing lines.
Jeff was going after the marlin as Rob picked up line. It came up jumping about ten minutes into the fight then disappeared. It was a great fish, Jeff said. She did everything just right. She took them just to the wind line, and stayed right in the trough the entire time.
Jeff reversed on the fish as much as he could, pivoting the boat in and out of gear, doing circles. They kept the fish close, with it never more than 75 yards out. Rob worked the marlin to the boat in about 40 minutes.
As Rob got the marlin to double line, they could see it swimming away from them off the port corner. The last 30 feet were almost impossible, mentioned Jeff. With Rob in a stalemate, Ta‘ane kept putting more and more drag on the fish, pushing it over the button.
They knew the marlin was getting tired, and just a matter of time as long as the hooks stayed in and the 50-pound test line held. They were a little worried, with the light leader they were using, that the marlin could wear through it.
The marlin popped up briefly, and they were able to get its head turned. Rob cranked his fish to leader. As Ta‘ane grabbed leader, the marlin was digging down and out off the port side, quartering away from them, trying to get in front of the boat. Jeff was happy with that move because he wanted to leader it off the side.
Jeff said, “If she goes, let her go.” He pivoted the boat toward the fish and came off the helm to place the gaff. Before he could take a shot, Ta‘ane had to dump leader as the marlin took off jumping off the port side. It put on a good show, taking about 50 yards out and down.
As they settled into the chase, Jeff mentioned to Rob that it had been an hour into the fight. Rob came back with, “It just feels like a long 15 minutes to me.” Jeff said, “I hope the next fifteen’s short and done.” That was not going to happen.
For the next hour, it was a constant give-and-take for them each time they got the marlin close. It was a tough fish, fighting like a 700-pounder, said Jeff. The marlin made 50 little runs of 25-50 yards out and down. Jeff was constantly in and out of gear chasing the fish.
They had to plane the marlin several times after short runs straight down. With Rob in a stalemate, Ta‘ane pushed up the drag as Jeff idled the boat ahead to get an angle on the fish. As it started to rise, Jeff reversed as hard as he could toward it. Rob kept up the pace on the reel, gaining line and packing the spool.
The next time to leader, the marlin seemed tired but was still digging away from them. Jeff had the boat idling ahead, circling a little in the trough and taking waves over the side in the sloppy water. The swell kept pushing the fish away from the boat as they tried to get ahead.
Ta‘ane got the marlin up on the port side. He tugged on the leader as hard as he felt he could, trying to budge the fish closer. As it came within reach, Jeff got a securing gaff into their catch.
Rob is a great angler, mentioned Jeff. He is the kind of angler you want in a tournament. He did not give the fish an inch the entire fight.