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Skipjack tuna lead Top Gun to 365.5-pound marlin

By Staff | Oct 20, 2011

From left, Greg Brown, Gene Perkins Jr. and Don Johnson with their 365.5-pound blue marlin.

LAHAINA – The Maalaea-based Top Gun came to Lahaina to weigh a nice 365.5-pound blue marlin for Greg Brown. He was fishing with Captains Don Johnson and Gene Perkins Jr.

They had been fishing the HS-Buoy located five miles south off Halona Point, Kaho’olawe. The weather laid down nice as they headed in toward Molokini. As Don passed the crater, he started running for the “Big Hole in the Bay.”

There had been a bunch of skipjack tuna in the area earlier in the morning, so Don headed in that direction. In the distance, he could see splashes on the surface of a marlin feeding on the skipjack. About 600 yards from the splashes, they raised the fish.

Gene saw the marlin come in on the long gone Coggin jet lure, tailing it. He cranked in the lure eight to ten cranks, then free-spooled the lure backward, locked up the reel and cranked it back in again. The marlin was behind the lure, so Gene dropped it right into its mouth.

The marlin ran 250-300 yards of 80-test line off the 80-class reel at a steady pace. Don was waiting patiently as everybody helped to clear the lines. Once everything was cleared and the rods were out of the way, Don began reversing after the fish.

Don had a good angle on the marlin and the boat idle reverse after it. They watched the line as it began to rise. The marlin made 3-4 jumps, then tail-walked off to the starboard side before settling down off the corner. Don kept up the chase as Greg started gaining some good line.

Twenty minutes later, the marlin came up tail-walking 50 yards back. It continued back and forth tearing up the surface for quite a while. It was spectacular, mentioned Don. That’s when they realized that it had some size.

The marlin stayed near the surface, so Don just followed the line for about ten minutes. Once they had it near the boat, it started working the corners back and forth. Greg cranked the fish to leader off the starboard side. Gene grabbed the line, took double wraps and pulled the marlin up.

The marlin rolled over onto its side motionless next to the boat. Don stuck a tag into the fish so it could be released. Gene held on to the leader as Don reached out, grabbed the marlin’s bill and took out the hook.

Gene leaned over – with he and Don both in the “wheelbarrow” position – as they hung over the rail trying to right the marlin by the dorsal fin.

They both held the marlin upright as they tried to “swim” it, but as soon as they let go of the dorsal fin, it rolled back onto its side, then went belly up.

After 20-30 seconds, the marlin started kicking its tail and moving its head slightly, so they decided to let it go. Don released the bill and watched the fish head underneath the boat.

The marlin came out on the other side belly up. They watched it for a while floating, and after seeing no movement from it, they decided to go back and try to right it again.

By the time Don reversed the boat to the fish, it was done. Gene used a hand-gaff to pull the marlin to the stern door. They grabbed the bill and hauled it aboard.