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Kimo’s staff tags and releases 700-plus-pound marlin

By Staff | Oct 6, 2011

From left, Richard Gomez, Dave Deprosse, Kimo Taitague, Dave Causey, Alex Hoehn, Strider Kerrick, Sean Hayden, Leah Kadotani and Rob Hoerger arrive back at the harbor. Photo by Kimo’s Restaurant.

LAHAINA — The Maui Jim tagged and released an estimated 700-plus-pound blue marlin by Kimo Taitague and Strider Kerrick from Kimo’s Restaurant. They were fishing with Capt. Tom Casey and crew Dave Causey.

Causey, a long, longtime waiter at Kimo’s, had been trying to put a trip together for the head waiters and trainers. He got together with Alex Hoehn, Kimo’s service manager, and set up a nice appreciation fishing trip for all their hard work aboard the Maui Jim.

Tom headed out to the NASA-Buoy located on the 1,000-fathom ledge off the southwest side of Lanai. The first pass by the buoy, they landed a mahi mahi. Next pass, they hooked a barracuda. This got the group warmed up and instructed on clearing lines and cranking on some fish.

The buoy didn’t look too productive, so Causey cranked in the small lures as Tom set out the big lures. They were two miles from the buoy when the short rigger came down hard. The marlin grabbed the Casey purple Hardhead lure and took off. It pulled 200 yards of 100-test line from the 80-class reel before it started jumping.

The marlin exploded all across the surface, putting on a great show, taking another 200 yards in the process. Tom knew it was over 300 pounds — a real fish, not a “rat” that had been caught lately. To see a good fish like that out of the water was pretty impressive, mentioned Tom.

Everybody knew what to do and got things cleared and ready for the fight. Kimo was in the chair first. Tom began to reverse the boat after the fish. After about 20 minutes, Kimo ran out of gas. Causey called out, “We need a reliever. Get Strider in the chair.”

Causey guided the chair and began coaching Strider on how to crank down and slowly pull up, getting him into a rhythm. The marlin seemed settled down, so they put the reel into one-to-one ratio. Strider beat the fish up pretty good, said Tom. He did a great job and was who you wanted fighting the fish.

Once they had it to within 100 yards, Tom pushed the drag up over the button to full. When you have the 80 turned up to 55-60 pounds of drag, you know you have a good fish, mentioned Tom. With so much drag on the marlin, it lifted Strider up in the chair a few times in the harness, getting his attention. He had to hold on to the back of the chair seat to stay in.

Fifty minutes into the fight, they had the marlin to leader. It was slowly swimming from side to side, head down and tail up, as it tried to dig under the stern. Tom idled the boat ahead as Strider got into a give-and-take tug-of-war with the marlin, as it pulled out 20-30 feet of line each time.

The marlin just wasn’t going to come up. It found its zone and didn’t want to budge. They were at a stalemate for ten minutes. Tom told Strider to take his time — and to make slow movements cranking down and pulling up — as he wrestled the line up a foot at a time.

The marlin came back to leader on the starboard corner. Tom put the boat into idle ahead, grabbed the line and held on as the fish dug down and moved to the port side. Tom had his hands full for at least five minutes as he wrapped up on the leader.

Causey had the fly-gaffs set up in case they had to take the fish. Tom was getting tired and called out, “Give me a hand, a glove man.” Rob Hoerger grabbed some gloves and went over to give Tom some help.

They both held on to the leader and pulled the marlin up the last few feet on the port side. Tom said, “Come on, Robbie — give me an extra pull.” Tom tried to get the hooks out of the fish, but they wouldn’t come out. He got a dock line around the bill and pulled the head up.

Causey grabbed the tag stick and got a tag into the marlin. Tom finally got the hooks out of the fish and dropped it back a few yards behind the boat on the bill rope. The marlin got its head down and gave Tom a couple of good tail flaps and headshakes.

Tom said, “We’ll give you a chance, girl.” He pulled the marlin back up, got the bill rope off, and it went down nice and swam away. Causey said, “It wasn’t a ‘I got um,’ it was, ‘We got um.’ “ It was a Kimo’s team effort.

For the next couple of days, Tom’s hands were swollen and bruised from the intense leadering. His custom-made purple Hardhead lure has gotten him three marlin over 700-pounds this year. The Maui Jim caught an 821-pounder in Kona a couple of days after the March tsunami; they won the 27th annual World Cup Blue Marlin Championship in Kona on the Fourth of July with a 729-pounder among 126 teams (46 from Kona) from 15 locations around the world; and this 700-plus-pounder they released.