Sharks disqualify big marlin for Hoku #3
LAHAINA — The “tax collectors” took a bite out of the $57,800 Halloween Shootout winning fish caught by the Hoku #3, when it was disqualified for mutilation under IGFA rules.
Capt. Mike Sur and crewman Makani Christensen were on the North Shore, between Molokai and Maui, fishing the N-Buoy. Outside the buoy, they found a net and caught four ono and four mahi, one being around 10-12 pounds. Makani rigged up the small mahi as bait and they dragged it around for awhile with no takers.
Mike trolled down the ledge to a drop-off on the chart, and then turned back around toward the buoy. He got to the buoy in the late afternoon about an hour before “stop fishing.” Mike pulled in his two center rods and dropped back the small dead mahi into the pattern. They dragged the mahi around the buoy to see what would come up.
Makani was at the helm as Mike baited the mahi from the bridge rod. As Mike looked back at the bait, he saw a big white-tip shark coming after the mahi. As he cranked the mahi away from the shark, the shark suddenly turned and scurried away like something was chasing it. Mike mentioned that he had never seen a shark swim that fast.
A few seconds later, a big school of 40- to 60-pound tuna, all at the same time, jumped 6-8-feet out of the water all around the boat. Mike and Makani looked at each other, wondering what was going on. They spotted two big marlin out behind the boat. Seconds after that, something slammed the port side rigger lure and the reel started screaming off the 130-test line.
Makani left the helm and sat on the starboard gunnel next to the rod. He could see the gold spool starting to get brighter and brighter. Mike had the boat in full reverse chasing after the marlin. The lines that were still in the water were backed over.
Mike didn’t care at that point, because he saw how big the marlin was, and the speed at which it was taking line straight down the wake. Mike was keeping up with it for awhile, but couldn’t stay in full reverse too long. Mike spun the boat around toward the marlin and continued the chase. The rod was in the shotgun holder, so Makani turned the rod and continued working his fish.
About the two-hour mark, as the sun started to set, they had the marlin to the boat. It was swimming strong away from them 15 feet below the surface — it looked huge.
Mike backed after it. He tried to swing the boat in front of the marlin so he could get a better angle and pull it up. Each time he got in front of the fish, it would turn away from them, and Mike would have to reposition the boat. “It was a cat and mouse game,” mentioned Mike.
At one point, they had the marlin to leader. Mike put the boat into autopilot and jumped off the helm. As he grabbed leader, it shot out of his hands. If he had been able to take a wrap, the line would have snapped. The marlin took off without hesitation.
About three hours into the fight, the marlin made a death dive straight down, taking three-quarters of the spool. At that point, it was a constant give-and-take for Makani for the next two hours. Mike tried to drag the fish in one direction up-current, and then changed directions down-current. He tried planning the fish. He even made big, wide circles above it. Nothing was working.
The last two hours, the marlin was straight up and down over half a spool. Makani could feel the fish below, jerking its head. After awhile, Makani felt like he was fighting dead weight. The line was crackling and pinging off the spool as it slowly rolled off the reel. They had at least 70 pounds of drag on the fish and wondered how long the line would last.
Mike put the boat into neutral, and it was a slow, tug-of-war for Makani.
He was only able to get 2-3 inches on each crank on the two-speed reel. In the seas, each time the boat would roll to the side, Makani was able to gain a little more line. Finally, at 10:30 p.m., after seven exhausting hours, Makani hauled the marlin to the boat.
The fish was dead as Mike grabbed the 300-pound leader, and the shear length and girth was impressive. Mike said that the 900-pounder he caught in June looked like a 400-pounder compared to this monster. He was calling it 1,200 to 1,400 pounds.
Once Makani got a gaff into the fish, even in the dark, they noticed the shark bites, with an estimated 80 to 100 pounds of meat missing. Mike called tournament control and told them they had caught the fish, but sharks had taken bites out of it. Control told him that the fish was disqualified per the IGFA rule on mutilation.
The marlin was too big to haul into the boat without a stern door, and it was 30 miles to tow it to Lahaina in the dark. At that point, Mike told Makani, “Let’s get rid of this fish.” Before they could do that, they had to get the fly-gaffs out of the fish and take some pictures for the proof. Otherwise, it was just another fishing tale.
As Makani held onto the gaff rope, Mike tried to saw off the marlin’s tail by leaning over the side. In the darkness and the weather, Mike just couldn’t get a good angle on the massive caudal. He decided to jump into the water to cut the tail off and get the gaffs out.
With the darkness, depths and critters all around, it took Mike 10-15- uneasy minutes to saw through the 20-inch caudal. Once he cut the 52-inch wide tail off, Makani could hardly lift it out of the water.
After that, Mike tried to get out the fly-gaffs. The big gaff was wedged in the fish, and he couldn’t get it out. He didn’t want to thrash around in the water any more than he already had, so he climbed back aboard. Mike released the gaff rope and let everything go to the sharks.
The next thing Makani knew, he was sitting down and couldn’t move. He passed out in the cabin as Mike headed back to Lahaina.