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Start Me Up Too lands a very rare black marlin

By Staff | May 15, 2014

From left, Harold Kenyon, Capt. Denny Putnam and deckman Ross Elkins with their 161.0-pound black marlin. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.

LAHAINA – The Start Me Up Too landed a very rare catch for Maui waters, weighing a 161.0-pound black marlin by Harold Kenyon. He was fishing with Capt. Denny Putnam and deckman Ross Elkins.

They were out on a full day charter, with Denny making it down the 100-fathom ledge all the way to the Lanai Golf Course before the weather got too bad to head in that direction any longer. He turned around and headed back down the ledge past Manele Bay to Kamaiki Point. When he reached the “pocket” on the southeast corner of the ledge, he turned and headed toward Kahoolawe. Right when he made the turn, they got the bite.

Ross was readjusting the long gone lure and had three wraps on the rubber-band when all of a sudden, the line was ripped out of his hand. The marlin came leaping completely out of the water at the strike. It jumped across the pattern once and then quickly changed directions, jumping a couple more times. They thought they had a small blue marlin hooked.

The marlin took off straight away for 150-175 yards before it slowed its run. By that time, Ross had everything cleared and Harold in the chair. Denny started backing after the fish.

The marlin jumped a couple more times around 100 yards out. After that last aerial display, they never saw it again until double line. It was give-and-take for awhile, with Harold getting 20 feet and then losing ten. About 30 minutes into the fight, they had the fish to double line. Denny could see it swimming away from them close to the surface.

The marlin jumped 3-4 times, with them finally able to get its head turned toward the boat. It came right in on the port side, with Ross grabbing leader. He pulled it up without any problem. Denny was there to secure their catch.

Denny mentioned that when they pulled it aboard, it looked kind of green at first, then turquoise blue. It had a sort of silver-white sheen to it. This variation in coloration caused it to be called “silver marlin” in Hawaii in the early days of sportfishing. It was thought to be a separate species of marlin.

The marlin had two albino remora attached to it when they pulled it aboard. With the marlin covered in a towel, Denny noticed how turquoise blue the tail was sticking out, instead of the blue-black color of a blue marlin. The pec fin was also sticking straight up underneath the towel, but he dismissed it as rigor mortis.

They were still thinking blue marlin as they pulled into the slip. As I looked at the fish, Ross pulled the towel off it. The instant I saw the sickle-shaped pec fin sticking straight up, I told Denny, “I think you caught a black.”

Once off the boat, I felt how rigid and fixed the sickle-shaped pec fins were. They couldn’t be folded against the body like on a blue marlin. These are some of the distinctive traits of a black marlin from a blue marlin or any other marlin species.

Black marlin also have a short, stubby dorsal fin. The belly, all the way to the lateral line, was a milky off-white color instead of medium silver white for a blue. The scales of a black marlin are embedded in the skin and are difficult to scrape off, similarly to a striped marlin’s skin.

The last black marlin caught by the Lahaina Harbor Sportfishing fleet was in May 2002, with a 101-pounder aboard the Hinatea.

The largest black marlin for the harbor is a 559.5-pound fish by Capt. Dave Rockett aboard the Halcyon. This was also the winning fish in the first Lahaina Jackpot Fishing Tournament held in 1977.

There have only been 19 black marlin verified and documented since 1977.