Has anyone ever jumped in after a marlin? Here’s one story
People, on occasion, have asked me if anyone has ever jumped in after a marlin. In my 40 years working among the fishing fleet, I have heard of and written about a few. This story is from April 2007.
If you have been fishing for blue marlin for awhile, you probably know the feeling. After fighting a nice fish and finally getting it to leader, as you take that first wrap and pull it up the side, the marlin digs down and turns its head, swimming across the stern. You follow it to the other corner and take another wrap. Suddenly, the wrap you had on the fish goes slack in your hand.
Your heart drops into your shorts, as you watch the fish sink into the depths. At that point, the captain starts shouting some unrecognizable language, unsuitable for children, while the angler stares clueless behind the boat.
The Reel Hooker literally wrestled a 601.0-pound blue marlin to the boat with 14-year-old Tyler Croft in the chair. Capt. Paul King and deckman Carlo Mau Asam were running down the 100-fathom ledge off the south side of Lanai heading toward the Palaoa Point Lighthouse.
Carlo had just finished setting out the lures as they neared Manele Bay. Paul turned around at the helm to check out the pattern, spotting a marlin coming in between the short corner and short rigger lures. The fish faded off from the short corner and swam over to the short rigger lure.
Paul shouted out, “Right side!” Carlo immediately went to the short corner rod first. Noting that the fish wasn’t there, he went to the short rigger rod. He cranked the lure up, snapped the rubber band off the rigger line and free-spooled the lure backward. Carlo cranked the lure in a few yards and then free-spooled it backward again.
Carlo saw the marlin come in underneath the lure and grab it. The line started to peel off the spool. He knew they were hooked. Carlo shouted up to Paul, “We got him!”
The marlin jumped 3-4 times straight up, full body out of the water, away from the boat. Once it got past the long gone position, it jumped one more time, then took off. By the time Carlo got Tyler into the chair, the fish had out 400 yards.
Paul pulled one of the engines out of gear and straightened the boat out. He kept tension on the line as Carlo finished clearing the other lines. Carlo told Tyler that they were going to back after the fish and to get ready to crank.
Paul began to reverse after the marlin as Carlo coached Tyler, trying to get as much line back as quick as possible. Paul bumped the boat in and out of gear but had to get a little aggressive as the fish made another short run.
For the first 15 minutes, the marlin stayed near the surface. As they gained line and got closer, the fish headed deep. Carlo could hear the 100-test line “crackle and ping” off the spool from the tension on the fish.
Paul watched the angle of the line and bumped the boat in and out of reverse every now and then, helping Tyler bring the fish in. With Tyler coming to a stalemate ten minutes later, Carlo began to hand-line the fish upward as Tyler cranked.
Around 35 minutes into the fight, Paul saw the rubber band come up. The marlin was straight down off the stern, shaking its head from side to side. Another ten minutes of hand-lining, and Paul finally saw the shadow of the fish straight off the stern. It looked like it was upside down and dead. At that point, they were at double line.
Carlo began to slowly finesse the marlin up, hand over hand, to leader off the starboard corner. Halfway to leader, the marlin popped to the surface and rolled over. Carlo felt the hooks pull out and watched as the fish drifted away from the boat 30 feet away.
Carlo told Tyler to crank in the line. As the swivel reached the rod tip, Carlo grabbed the leader and pulled the lure out of the water. He told Tyler to put the reel into free-spool, but Tyler didn’t understand. Carlo reached over, pulled the drag lever down and grabbed the lure.
In a split second, and not even thinking about what he was about to do, Carlo jumped into the water. He came up underneath and to the front of the marlin. Carlo reached out, grabbed the bill with his left hand and turned sideways to the fish, putting it into somewhat of a headlock. He could feel the marlin twitching as he held onto the bill and head.
Carlo was frantically treading water, trying to keep the fish on the surface as it slowly sank from the weight of its body. Carlo shouted out to Paul, “Back up! Back up – I got her!” Paul scrambled back to the bridge and idle-reversed toward the fish. He then put the boat into neutral and let the momentum take them to Carlo.
They had the stern fish door open, with Paul’s first concern to get Carlo into the boat. Carlo was still holding onto the bill as he climbed through the door. In the back of both of their minds was where are the sharks? Paul stuck a fly-gaff into the marlin to secure it before they hauled it aboard.
Once Carlo got a look at the fish, the adrenalin rush finally took over. He was emotionally drained and shaking uncontrollably as he regurgitated the saltwater he had swallowed. Tyler’s 601.0-pound blue was the largest marlin by the youngest angler for the year.