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Start Me Up Too lands a rare sailfish

By Staff | Oct 1, 2015

Capt. Terry Kellam (left) and deckman Tyler Olsen with their 72.5-pound sailfish caught on Start Me Up Too. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.

LAHAINA – The Start Me Up Too, with Capt. Terry Kellam and deckman Tyler Olsen, landed a rare catch to Hawaiian waters, weighing a 72.5-pound sailfish. They were on a morning four-hour charter, with Terry heading southeast down the West Maui coast. They raised their fish in 43 fathoms of water off Ukumehame.

The fish came in from the short rigger side, grabbing the lure and immediately jumping clear of the surface. It got airborne a couple more times as it headed away from the boat. Because it was going away from them, and the angle, at first, it looked like a big spearfish. Terry even made a comment on how big the tail was for a spearfish.

The fish ran out about 130-140 yards and then started tail-walking and leaping back and forth, going crazy across the surface. Everyone was excited that they had a billfish hooked. Terry slowed the boat to a dead stop and let the angler fight the fish.

The fish kept pulling short bits of line as they cranked it in. They got it to leader in about 11 minutes off the starboard quarter. As it swam up the side of the boat, Terry put the boat idle ahead.

The fish raised its head out of the water – that’s when they noticed it had a bill and thought it was a nice-sized striped marlin, not a big spearfish. Terry left the helm with the tag stick in hand. Tyler leadered the fish in and grabbed the bill, so Terry could get the hook out before they tagged it.

The marlin started thrashing around beside the boat. Before Terry could remove the hook, the bill broke off, with only about a half-inch of bill still holding the hook. At the strike, the hook had ripped down the bill 6-8-inches, splitting the bill in half, before it finally dug in. It would have been impossible to remove the hook, with it stuck completely through the top of the bill.

When they pulled the marlin into the boat, it was still flailing around, so they subdued it one more time. That’s when the marlin popped its sail out in full form to everyone’s surprise: “Sailfish!”

This is the first sailfish for Lahaina Harbor in almost two years. Since 1979, there have been 79 recorded fish, with this sail the 19th largest for the harbor. The Lahaina Harbor record is a 113-pound fish taken in 1979 aboard the Sport Diver with Capt. Tad Luckey. The second largest was a 100-pound fish taken in 1986 aboard the Finest Kind with Capt. Dave Hudson.

The Hawaii state record is a 151-pound fish taken in 2013 from Punalu’u, Hawaii. The IGFA all-tackle world record for men is a 221-pound Pacific sailfish on 130-pound test line taken in 1947 from Ecuador. The women’s all-tackle record is a 199-pound Pacific sailfish on 80-pound test line taken in 1968 from Panama.