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Marlin puts up marathon battle for Action anglers

By Staff | Feb 26, 2015

From left, deckman Rob Cosgrove, Fred Leibold, Kevin Bell and Capt. Juuka Hyytia with their 474.2-pound blue marlin. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.

LAHAINA – The Action hooked into a marathon battle with a 474.2-pound blue marlin, taking Fred Leilbold and Kevin Bell over seven hours to land their fish. They were fishing with Capt. Juuka Hyytia and deckman Rob Cosgrove.

They were running down the 1,000-fathom ledge from the NASA-Buoy off the backside of Lanai when Juuka spotted a marlin in the middle of the pattern. Rob looked back and saw the fish swirl behind the long gone lure.

Rob went to the rod and cranked the line down off the rigger. He dropped it back up the rigger, then cranked it down again to tease the marlin to strike. At that point, he was just watching the rubber band holding the line. Rob saw the fish come in and whack the lure a few times, with the rubber band stretching until it snapped the line free.

The marlin made a couple of splashes and then jumped straight up out of the water. It made a quick 100-yard run, then jumped straight up and down again. The 80-class reel started screaming off the 100-test line as it headed away from them.

The marlin ran straight out for 600-700 yards, taking them a couple hundred yards into the Dacron backing. Once Rob had the lines cleared and Fred into the chair, Juuka started to reverse after the fish. The marlin stayed on the surface, with them regaining 350 yards of line in about 45 minutes.

Before Fred could get a break, the marlin made another 350-yard run, losing all that line back into the Dacron backing. This time, it headed straight down. Juuka continued to reverse after the fish before he lost the angle in the line.

Rob got Fred hooked into the bucket harness and settled into a rhythm. There wasn’t much movement from the marlin as Juuka slowly idle reversed the boat in and out of gear, keeping the line right off the stern for the next couple of hours.

Juuka tried a few times to plane the fish up, but each time he motored the boat forward, they would lose more line than they could gain reversing on it. They had at least 30 pounds of drag on the spool, but Juuka didn’t want to push up the drag much higher on the reel and risk pulling the 8.0 hooks.

Once Rob got Fred comfortable “Portuguese pulling” on the line and pumping the rod, they started gaining some line. It was still a give-and-take tug of war, gaining six inches and losing two, gaining three but losing eight. Fred slowly inched up the fish, getting half cranks on the reel in low gear. He finally got the marlin back to mono an hour or so later.

After over three hours in the chair, Fred was spent and switched out with Kevin. With a fresh set of arms on the reel, Rob had Kevin set up and into a rhythm pretty quick. Juuka continued to idle after the fish down-current as Kevin slowly hauled up the marlin for the next two hours.

As Kevin started to tire, Fred got back into the chair but didn’t last too long. For the next hour, they switched out in the chair a couple more times.

Finally, with things back to a stalemate, Rob took the rod out of the chair and placed it into the port side gunnel rod holder.

For the next 45 minutes, Rob stood behind the reel, cranking and “Portuguese pulling” on the line, getting the marlin coming up the last 200 yards. Once he got the fish back to the rubber band, it started to float up. Juuka idled the boat forward and planed it up.

The marlin popped up 40 feet behind the stern, dead. Juuka idle reversed the boat as Rob cranked the marlin to double line and leader. He grabbed the leader and hand-over-hand pulled it to the boat. Rob mentioned that as soon as Juuka stuck the gaff, the 8.0 lead hook came right out.

They had a little problem getting the marlin into the boat. Everybody was spent from the marathon battle, so they took a break and regrouped. They tried tying it off across the stern, but as Juuka ran the boat forward, the marlin started bouncing off the stern. Juuka stopped the boat. They rigged up several ropes around the 11-foot-long body, and everybody “heave-hoed” it up onto the top of the stern rail and into the boat.

This was the second longest battle of a blue marlin that was finally landed by a Lahaina charter boat in the 35 years I have been keeping stats.