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Offshore Hunter marlin wins cash in two Halloween tournaments

By Staff | Nov 19, 2015

From left, Capt. Kenny Bauchman, Capt. Jim Ward, Deder Lane, Donn Walvatne, Tom Brzozowski and Touche’ with their 351.1-pound blue marlin.

LAHAINA – For the second year in a row, the Lahaina Jackpot and Halloween Shootout Tournaments were held together on Halloween. What makes this profitable for the teams is, enter both tournaments, catch a winning fish, and win twice. That’s exactly what happened.

The Offshore Hunter out of Lahaina Harbor took first place in the Lahaina Jackpot, and second place in the Halloween Shootout, with a 351.1-pound blue marlin by Donn Walvatne.

Donn was fishing with team members Capt. Jim Ward, Capt. Kenny Bauchman, Tom Brzozowski, Deder Lane and Touche’.

They had heard of a few bites earlier in the morning as they worked outside the K-Buoy marks off Lanai. Finest Kind had just gotten a triple bite and boated two. Trouble Maker and another boat also had a couple of bites in the same area, all within a 40-minute period. Jim figured they were a little bit too far outside, so he headed back inside toward the Palaoa Point Lighthouse.

Everyone was getting a little anxious with all the action in the area. Kenny had just finished making up a hook rig for a Steve Elkins red-eye “Bonzoid” lure and put it out into the pattern on the long corner position. About three minutes later, just as Jim passed through some marks he had on his GPS from some previous bites, they got their strike.

The marlin made a steady pull on the 130-class line as it ran for about 30 seconds, 100 yards out, to the long gone position before it figured out it was hooked. They saw the size of the fish and knew it was a possible contender.

Donn grabbed the rod and got into the chair. He pushed up the drag to the button as the marlin made a few series of jumps and tail-walks just outside the pattern. Jim reversed the boat hard after the fish, trying to get it behind the boat and slow the line loss as it went down.

The marlin had out about 200 yards, but they steadily gained it back. It came up twice, jumping and tail-walking 5-10 minutes into the fight. With the line on the surface, Jim was able to aggressively go after the fish, and Donn was ready to crank.

They had the marlin to leader in about 15 minutes. Kenny went to grab leader. The fish was fairly deep right off the starboard side. As he grabbed the line, it came up, head and shoulders out of the water, and fell off to the port side. Kenny had to let go of the leader for fear of breaking tackle or pulling hooks. He didn’t want to force anything.

Jim punched the boat ahead to get away from the marlin and keep it out of the props. After that, the fish took off on a slow, hard run, grinding off about 50 yards. The marlin dug in, getting Donn into a stalemate. The fish started to get more vertical, up and down off the stern. Donn got into the bucket harness, switched the reel into low gear and began to slowly short pump the rod to raise the fish.

Jim followed after the marlin whichever way it was swimming, to stay after it and not lose any more line. It was give and take for Donn, sometimes losing more line than he gained. He pushed up the drag a little higher and put the reel into low gear. As the fish was slowly coming up, Jim planed it out and then reversed back on it. It took 15 minutes to get the fish back to double line.

That’s when they noticed that the marlin had gotten tail-wrapped, probably on its last run. It came up pretty weak about 30 feet away, as Donn cranked it in backward. There was no resistance as Ken leadered it up off the starboard side, with Tom securing the fish.

They dropped it back to the port corner, grabbed the bill and pulled it through the stern door. “Everything went pretty textbook,” said Kenny. “We were prepared and ready. Everybody worked as a team.”

Once they got the marlin aboard, they noticed the solid hook-up. It was hooked just below the right eye, into the side of the face, down into the bone of the eye socket. The hook was slightly straightened out.

The team took first place in the Lahaina Jackpot (worth $7,200) and won the second place marlin side-bets in the Halloween Shootout worth $8,800, bringing their two tournament earnings to $16,000.

To all the Hawaii Fishing News readers: as of their December issue, which will be out the end of November, they will be closing the paper after 40 years of bringing the statewide fishing news to you. Chuck Johnson, publisher/editor-in chief, is looking for someone to take the publication over.

I had my Lahaina Seawatch column in the HFN for 31 years, and this will bring a void for me and the fishing community on Maui that I have covered.

The entire state fishing community will miss a needed voice and coverage on their closing.