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Start Me Up Too scores with marlins’ morsel of choice

By Staff | Jul 22, 2010

From left, Dan Sandoval, Capt. Steve Cravens and crewman Chris Gifford with their 470.7-pound blue marlin caught aboard Start Me Up Too.

LAHAINA — The Start Me Up Too put another marlin into the Top Marlin stats, weighing a 470.7-pound blue by Dan Sandoval. He was fishing with Capt. Steve Cravens and crewman Chris Gifford.

It was an afternoon three-hour charter, with Steve heading south to an area that was holding aku, the morsel of choice for blue marlin. A large marlin was hooked up two different times the day before in that same area.

They were able to pick up two nice aku off the “Dump,” dropping them back long and short off the riggers. Steve “walked” them up the coast toward Launiupoko in about 300 feet of water.

About 15 minutes after getting the baits out, Steve noticed the short bait getting nervous. He came off the bridge, popped the line out of the clip and held it in his hand for a bit. He felt the aku getting real nervous, so he let the line go, dropping the bait back into the wake.

He felt that something had picked up the bait. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion right on the bait. The marlin ate the aku and headed for the horizon. Steve had Chris put both engines in gear and punch the boat forward. Steve free-spooled the reel, giving the fish time to swallow the bait, then locked up the spool.

The marlin ran dead straight-away from them, greyhounding 4-5 times for 200 yards. It then made a left turn and kept on going for another 150-200 yards before heading back toward them. Steve already had the other bait out of the water.

Steve headed back to the helm and started after the marlin. Dan was in the chair on the 130-class rod, with the two-speed reel in 3-1 ratio. Steve reversed the boat after the fish for at least a half hour, gaining half the spool back. The marlin stayed near the surface.

Chris got Dan hooked up in the fighting harness, taking some pressure off his arms. They continued after the marlin for another half hour, getting it close to double line. The fish was 50-feet down, just where the rubber band was on the clip.

The marlin was swimming away from the boat as the double line finally showed. It was “lit-up” like a Christmas tree, swimming side to side. Dan was in a give-and-take, yo-yo struggle with the fish, with the double line on and off the spool a half-dozen times.

Chris pushed up the drag and put the reel into low gear, trying to get the marlin to turn back toward the boat. Chris waited for the swivel to show.

As the swivel cleared the surface off the starboard corner, Chris grabbed the leader and got some good pulls on it. He had the fish almost close enough that Steve left the helm to gaff.

Chris got stretched out so tight on the leader that the fish was just out of gaff range. Steve told Chris to dump the leader — the marlin wasn’t ready. The fish took off to its “happy zone” just past double line, around 50-feet, and settled in swimming away from them.

Steve tried to maneuver the boat to cut the marlin off on its direction. Each time he idled the boat up beside the fish, it cut back around the transom, then down and away from them to its spot. It was showing its colors, with its head down and digging in, keeping Steve busy spinning the boat around after it for at least a half hour.

The marlin finally came up on the starboard corner. Chris was able to grab leader a second time. He hand-over-hand pulled the fish close enough for Steve to get a gaff in it. After getting it secured, they pulled it through the stern door.