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Desperado gets help with 455.2-pound marlin

By Staff | Jul 15, 2010

From left, Mark Donohoe, Capt. Dan Schaffer, Jimmy Francis and Michele Winkler with their 455.2-pound blue marlin caught aboard the Desperado.

LAHAINA — The Desperado made the Top Marlin stats with a 455.2-pound blue by Mark Donohoe. He was fishing with Capt. Dan Schaffer and crew Michele Winkler, getting assistance by Jimmy Francis.

It was a private afternoon charter, so Dan headed south toward Olowalu, where a marlin had been caught in the morning. He was about four miles off the Dump, at “Secret Spot,” dragging bait around for two-and-a-half hours without a bite.

Dan decided to switch over to lures. He got the pattern set up and headed to the bridge. He was just looking back to check the spread when he noticed a marlin swimming broadside from under the prop wash outward. He saw how long it was and called it 300-plus in his head.

The marlin grabbed the short rigger lure and took off. It ripped out about 300 yards of 100-test line, then stopped, turned and started swimming full speed back toward the boat. The bend in the rod came up before Dan could hand it to Mark. Dan thought they might have lost the fish.

With the rod still in the holder, Dan cranked on the reel as hard as he could for almost five minutes, packing on 100 yards. The marlin continued to swim with the boat at 8-10 knots, as Dan had Michele stay at trolling speed. The marlin was still 200 yards out before Dan was finally able to get the line tight on the fish.

Dan handed Mark the rod and started clearing the other five lines. The marlin slowed its run toward the boat, with Michele easing back on the throttles. Dan got Mark into the fighting harness and then went back to clearing lines.

Once that was finished, Dan headed back to the helm. With a solid bend finally in the rod, the marlin felt the pressure and took off on another mad-dash run. It got acrobatic, tail-walking all over the surface about a half-mile away. The marlin stayed on the surface, with Dan aggressively reversing the boat after it.

After about 15 minutes of chasing the fish, the softhead lure popped up. The lure had slid at least 250 yards up the line. As Mark cranked, the lure came up the line to the rod tip. Michele was constantly pushing the lure back down the line each time it reached the rod tip.

Mark did a good job in the chair. Dan watched him and throttled backward as needed, trying to gain more line. Mark was starting to tire.

Dan kept the boat idle ahead to keep the line tight, trying to give Mark a little break. After Mark got his second wind, Dan continued to reverse after the fish as they started to gain more line.

With the marlin about 100 yards from the boat, Dan started thinking about driving, leadering and gaffing. It was just him, Michele and Mark. Dan saw the Exact in the distance, about a mile away toward Kaho‘olawe.

Dan called up Capt. Sal Tarantino and asked him who was working with him. Sal said, Jimmy “The Kid.”

Dan asked Sal, “Could I borrow him for a few minutes?”

Sal asked, “Why?” Dan told him, “I need a leader man.”

After a few minutes, Sal called back and told him he was heading in his direction. Once the Exact got close to the Desperado, Dan stopped the boat so Jimmy could come aboard. Jimmy jumped in the water and swam over.

When Dan stopped the boat, the marlin dropped straight down. With them losing the angle on the line, the softhead lure finally slid down to the surface. Jimmy set up the back deck and got ready to leader. Twenty minutes later, about 100 feet from the boat, the marlin popped to the surface backward and tail-wrapped.

The marlin must have gotten tail-wrapped as it dove when Dan stopped the boat to let Jimmy aboard. From that point on, Dan put the boat into neutral, idle ahead, and let Mark crank the fish in backward. Once it got to double line, the softhead lure got stuck at the braid, so Jimmy had to hand-line the fish to leader.

Once secured, it took Dan and Jimmy awhile to haul the marlin over the rail and into the boat. Mark did a great job of angling. He is a bass fisherman and kept a positive attitude. He never gave up each time he hit a stalemate.

This was a lucky catch for them. The hooks were never in the fish. Just the tip of the barb, on the trailing hook, was stuck on the top of the marlin’s bill. The leader went under the chin, underneath the gill plate on the other side, and across the dorsal fin.