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Team Troublemaker wins Halloween Shootout

By Staff | Nov 10, 2016

From left, Derek and Derek Jr. Escalera, Capt. Bob Schnoor, Brian Clark and James Blanton with their winning marlin.

LAHAINA – The Troublemaker out of Lahaina Harbor lived up to its name, causing trouble for the other 30 boats in the Halloween Shootout, winning the event with a 134.2-pound blue marlin worth $27,200 by Derek Escalera Jr. He was fishing with Capt. Bob Schnoor, deckman Derek Escalera, James Blanton and Brian Clark.

Their original plan was to try to make it to the backside of Kahoolawe and fish the JJ-Buoy, even though the winds were 25-plus knots. They wanted to pick up a small blue to get on the board, then look for a bigger female.

At the 7 a.m. start, they made it about two miles from the harbor when they blew a fresh water hose. That stopped them in their tracks and changed their game plan. By the time they got the hose replaced a half-hour later, they were behind the rest of the boats heading in that direction and decided to stay on the inside and work the area. This ended up being destiny in disguise.

They started to see a lot of Iwa birds outside the Dump area and figured there had to be some bait there. They followed the birds for a while, but nothing was panning out, so they started heading toward the LA-Buoy marks located 100 fathoms off Olowalu. They trolled for about a half hour before they had their bite right in the area.

The marlin hit the long corner lure and immediately started tail-walking, dancing all across the surface away from them. It ripped off the 130-class line toward the long gone position, with Derek screaming “qualifier!”

Derek started clearing the long gone lure, with James taking over the helm. Bob hit the deck to help clear the short side of the pattern as Derek Jr. went to the port side gunnel where the long corner rod was located. They had everything cleared pretty quickly.

The marlin made several more series of jumps before disappearing. It peeled out about 300 yards before it came back up tail-walking, snaking across the water in an explosion of whitewater. Once it settled down, that was the last they saw of it.

The marlin continued to pull off line until James began to reverse the boat after it. He chased it for a while, circling around into the wind, trying to get the boat going down-swell with the wind at their stern. Once James got the fish turned toward them, it stopped pulling line. He set one engine idle ahead and started to use the swell and wind to push the boat and pull the fish down-swell with them, keeping the line tight.

Derek Jr. was fighting the marlin from the port side gunnel. Any time the fish would give him some line, he “Portuguese pulled” and cranked it in. Derek Jr. kept up a slow and easy retrieval for about 10-15 minutes. As they started to get the fish closer, Derek got the fly-gaffs set-up and ready to go.

Derek called out, “Here comes leader.” James kept the marlin behind the boat for a minute, planing it up to see how “green” it was. Derek Jr. cranked it in to the port corner.

Derek grabbed the leader and guided the marlin around the swimstep to the starboard side. Once he felt that the marlin was mellow, he took one wrap, pulled a little, then a second wrap and pull, with it coming right up. Bob took the first gaff shot, with Derek Jr. securing it with a second gaff. All that was left was, one, two and three – over the rail into the boat.

They decided since it was so early in the morning, and they were so close to the harbor, that they would come in and weigh the marlin. They took a short measurement of 76 inches and called it in to Tournament HQ. They told them that it was a qualifier, estimated at 130-135 pounds.

Congratulations to team Troublemaker for winning the 2016 Halloween Shootout!