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Start Me Up Too lands 2016’s biggest marlin

By Staff | Jan 12, 2017

From left, Brad Schafer, Capt. Randy Evans and deckman Jeremy Johnson with their 661.5-pound marlin caught on Start Me Up Too. PHOTOS BY DONNELL TATE.

LAHAINA – 2016 was the worst year for big blue marlin since 1988, with only eight over 400 pounds making it to the Lahaina Harbor scales. There were two in the 600-pound range (661.5 and 631.5), three in the 500-pound range (581.5, 557.5 and 504.5), and three in the 400-pound range at 475.5, 454.5 and 429.7. There were only five blues in the 300-pound range – 387.5, 369.2, 341.4, 306.5 and 306.4 – and another 85 blue marlin under 300 pounds weighed during the year.

The Start Me Up Too joined the 600-pound marlin club, and made top blue of the year, weighing a 661.5-pound blue by Brad Schafer. He was fishing with Capt. Randy Evans and deckman Jeremy Johnson.

Randy had been working an area outside the 200-fathom ledge, off the “Little Slides” on the southwest corner of Lanai. As he came around the corner, following a current line off the Palaoa Point Lighthouse, a marlin came in from the starboard side.

The fish ran straight in, grabbed the long corner lure and continued across the pattern. It went straight down, and that’s the last they saw of it. The marlin screamed off the 100-test line, taking 350 yards into the Dacron backing in about ten seconds.

Randy and Brad stayed after the marlin until they had it back to the long corner rubber band in about an hour. The marlin started making small circles around the boat, with Randy spinning the boat after it the last 20 minutes. It must have made 50 circles during that time, mentioned Jeremy, before they got it to double line. The double line was on and off the rod over a dozen times.

From left, Jim Mayo, deckman Rob Cosgrove and Capt. Jonny Keiley caught this 631.5-pound marlin on Action.

They finally got the marlin turned back toward the boat and swimming off the starboard side. Brad cranked the fish to swivel. It turned away from the boat and rolled over on its side. Jeremy grabbed the leader, took double wraps on the line with both hands and pulled hard. He held on to what he had as Randy got the marlin secured.

The Action made the 600-pound marlin club with the second largest blue of the year, weighing 631.5 pounds, angled by Jim Mayo. He was assisted by Capt. Jonny Keiley and deckman Rob Cosgrove.

They were fishing the GG-Buoy, seven miles off Nakaohu Point (Luala’ilua 4-Hills) on the backside of Maui. With the waters pretty rough, Jonny headed inside to fish for ono. Rob started to put out the ono lures as they came up on the 100-fathom ledge. He was just setting out the third jet when the short rigger lure got bit.

The fish took out 80-100 yards of 100-test line and stopped. At first, they thought they had a big ono hooked. It didn’t do anything for a few seconds and then went crazy, thrashing across the surface, and then jumped one time, clearing the surface.

It was really rough water, east 15-20 knots, with five-foot wind waves. Jonny tried to back down on the fish, but the boat wanted to sit sideways in the swell, so he had to keep correcting the angle over and over. Jonny was finally able to get up on top of the fish in 15-20-minutes, with it straight up and down off the stern.

After a few minutes, Jonny figured the marlin was dead, so he had Rob begin to hand-line the fish. With about 200 yards of line out, Jonny backed the boat into the swell to keep close to the fish and keep the boat stable for Rob. Rob slowly, foot by foot, pulled the marlin upward for the next 45 minutes.

Finally, Rob saw color and shouted to Jonny, “Coming up,” as he pulled it to double line. It was pretty easy to leader, as the marlin came up upside down right off the stern with very little movement. At that point, the fish was quickly secured.

Upon inspection behind the boat, the marlin had lassoed itself with the leader. When it grabbed the lure, the hook snagged into its cheek, with the leader going through its mouth, around and over its dorsal fin, then under the peck fin and belly, back to the other side where the hook was. The leader then slid under the hook, bridling itself as it synched the line tight on the hook.