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Start Me Up Again finds big marlin off Launiupoko

By Staff | Apr 15, 2010

From left, Art and Dave Bateman, Capt. Steve Cravens, Rob and Airan Bateman, crewman Chris Gifford, Fred Bries and Whatt Caldwell with their 519.7-pound blue marlin caught aboard the Start Me Up Again.

LAHAINA — The Start Me Up Again joined the 500-pound marlin club for the year and edged itself into the second place spot in the big fish stats — by a mere three-tenths of a pound — with a 519.7-pound blue by the tag-team efforts of Art, Dave, Rob and Airan Bateman, along with Fred Bries and Whatt Caldwell. A 519.4-pound marlin was weighed just 11 days earlier. They were fishing with Capt. Steve Cravens and rookie crewman Chris Gifford.

Steve had been working the LA-Buoy area and 100-fathom ledge heading out to mid-Kealaikahiki Channel looking for floaters. He came back in to the “Dump” and made a left turn toward the harbor. Just outside the “secret spot” marks, in 30 fathoms of water off Launiupoko, they got a bite on the short corner position.

The marlin took off full speed, ripping 400-500 yards of 130-test line in a hurry. As Chris was clearing lines, just abeam off the starboard side, the fish came up jumping 200 yards away. It headed back across the stern, then down and out.

Steve throttled the boat away from the marlin to get a better angle on it and pull the loop out of the line. Once they got things settled in, Steve started backing down after the fish. The marlin continued to pull another 100 yards even as they reversed after it.

The marlin stayed near the surface, so it was just a matter of chasing the line down. For the next 30 minutes, Art, Dave, Rob, Airan, Whatt and Fred switched out in the chair every 5-10 minutes, gaining at least half the spool back. Steve had a good angle on the marlin and reversed up to within 100 yards of it before it went straight down.

They ran into a stalemate with the marlin “down and dirty.” Steve left the helm and got Fred into the fighting harness. Steve told him that he needed him in the chair for awhile. Steve dropped the reel into one-to-one ratio to put some heat on the fish.

Fred slowly worked the marlin the last 250 yards to the boat over the next 20 minutes. It came up to double-line swimming along the port side of the boat. Fred was in a give-and-take, tug-of-war with the fish for about ten minutes. They got a good look at it, all lit-up, as it dug in.

As Fred finally cranked the swivel to the rod tip, Chris took his first marlin to leader. It wasn’t pulling as hard as he was expecting, as big a fish as it was. The marlin tried to get under the corner, but Steve was able to drop the fly-gaff, grab the leader and push the line away from the boat, walking it around the swim step to the back of the stern.

The marlin popped up right off the port corner transom. That’s when Steve was able to reach off the back of the boat and secure their catch. As Chris grabbed the marlin’s bill, it shook its head from side to side and the hook fell out of its mouth.

Start Me Up Sportfishing gave the group their trip for free for catching a marlin over 500 pounds. They also donated $300 to the Maui Humane Society, as part of their continuing charity donation program for a marlin caught over 500 pounds on one of their boats.