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Sisters battle 359.4-pound blue marlin

By Staff | Oct 29, 2015

From left, Sam Kalua, Claire and Allie Hornburger, and Capt. Brad Coombs with their 359.4-pound marlin caught on Luckey Strike II. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.

LAHAINA – After almost three weeks since a blue marlin was caught, the Luckey Strike II brought a 359.4-pound fish to the scales, caught by the tag team of sisters Allie and Claire Hornburger. They were fishing with Capt. Brad Coombs and deckman Sam Kalua.

They raised their fish in 200 fathoms of water off Twin Sands, Kahoolawe, after fishing the southwest corner of the shoals. It was a blind strike on the short rigger position. The marlin grabbed the lure and headed straight down, pulling off 500-600 yards of 80-test line on a steady run.

Sam got Allie in the chair and started clearing the rest of the lines. Brad reversed the boat up to the line in just a couple of minutes until the line was five feet away, straight down off the stern. With that much line out, and the fish showing little movement, Brad couldn’t plane the marlin up. He just tried to keep it off the starboard corner as the girls worked on their fish, switching out about every 15 minutes.

It was a long, slow, hour-long haul for them, getting into a give and take stalemate about 100 feet from double line. The rubber band was on and off the spool 6-8 times, with the marlin pulling off 100-150 feet each time.

When it was 30 yards out, the fish started swimming toward the boat, with it getting easier for Allie to crank it almost to double line. Brad could see the fish and knew it was getting close. The marlin came up to leader on the starboard side. As Brad grabbed leader and took a wrap, the marlin took off, darting under the boat mid-ship, making one last serious pull.

The leader cinched around Brad’s wrist, cutting into his arm and almost pulling him over the side. Sam kicked the port side engine forward, swinging the boat away from the fish, with Brad able to dump the wrap and let the fish go.

The marlin just sat there digging in as it went back off the stern 50 feet. Allie cranked the fish back to the boat, with Brad grabbing the leader a second time a couple of minutes later, pulling it back to the starboard corner.

Sam was ready with the gaff and got the marlin secured, with Brad climbing out on the swim step and securing the tail. After pulling it into the boat, they saw that the fish had been hooked right in front of the dorsal fin. The hook had ripped across the head 8-10 inches before it finally dug in. Luckily, the hook stayed in for the hour-and-30-minute wahine tug of war.