Start Me Up Again sets the bar for 2011
LAHAINA — How appropriate for the top captain and rookie crewman of 2010 to weigh the first blue marlin of the new year.
Eighteen-year-old Steve Stupak wrestled a 649.7-pound blue marlin in a little over an hour aboard the Start Me Up Again with Capt. Steve Cravens and crew Chris Gifford.
They were fishing the 100-fathom ledge, K-Buoy side of the Palaoa Point Lighthouse, off the southwest corner of Lanai. Suddenly, the short corner 130-class reel made a quick zip. Cravens looked back and spotted a marlin come in on the lure but missed it. It made another attempt at the lure but missed again.
Cravens free-spooled the lure backward toward the marlin, but it missed it a third time. He cranked in the lure and then dropped it back again. The marlin hit the lure and zipped off a little more line. After a few seconds, Cravens tried a couple of more times trying to tease it to strike, thinking the marlin was gone.
The marlin came back up on the short corner lure again, made a pass but missed it again. It was getting a bit frustrating, mentioned Cravens. He could see the marlin swimming back behind the lure lit up but not willing to commit. Cravens kept dropping back the lure and cranking it in again and again until he finally saw the rod tip bow, then he locked up the spool. It was a solid hook-up and they were on.
The marlin ran straight down the pattern, inside the long rigger and out past the long gone position, greyhounding 300-400-yards and kicking up a lot of whitewater. With Steve in the chair, Cravens started idling backward with a little power directly toward the fish.
Steve did a great job cranking in line, gaining a couple of hundred yards in the process. The marlin went down. Chris dropped the reel into low gear as Cravens continued after it. Steve got into a nice rhythm, steadily getting good line.
When Cravens stopped the boat to give Steve time to rest, the marlin would take out 50-100 yards each time. As long as the boat was moving backward, they continued to gain line. Chris put the reel back into high gear as the marlin started to come up straight behind them.
Cravens backed the boat after it as Steve aggressively cranked on the marlin, getting it to within 100 yards. The fish went down, slowly swimming side to side. They got the marlin to double line off the starboard side of the boat. It made a big loop and swam right down the transom out to the port side.
With the marlin swimming away from them, Cravens maneuvered the boat to try to cut it off. Each time they got it close to double line, the marlin would swim up the side of the boat, make a big loop and change directions back across the transom trying to go under the boat. Cravens would have to power the boat away from the fish.
This went on for 20-30 minutes as Cravens maneuvered the boat after the marlin. Chris was able to grab leader on one of the passes by the transom. The marlin made a quick nosedive trying to go under the boat. Cravens kicked the stern away from the fish with Chris having to dump the leader.
The marlin made a run of 50-100 yards. Cravens reversed the boat on the fish, getting it back to double line and into the same routine as before. They could see that it was starting to get tired on each pass.
The second time to leader, Cravens was able to ride right along beside the marlin on the port side. He had one engine ahead as Chris grabbed leader and pulled it toward the boat. The marlin gave Chris a couple of good tugs as he took wraps and pulled it closer.
Cravens finally got a shot with the gaff to secure their catch. They brought it back to the stern and attempted to pull it through the door. With help from the other charter, they were able to haul it aboard.