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Action lands 408.6-pound blue marlin

By Staff | Jun 1, 2017

From left, Capt. Jonny Keiley, Matt Swanson, Gary Morris, Holden Cruse and Capt. Jukka Hyytia with their 408.6-pound blue marlin.

LAHAINA – The Action brought in a 408.6-pound blue marlin after a four-hour tag team battle by Matt Swanson, Gary Morris and Holden Cruse. They were fishing with Captains Jukka Hyytia and Jonny Keiley.

They were fishing a buoy in 1,000 fathoms off Halawa, Molokai, for tuna and mahi. They were using live bait, hooking a shark but breaking it off after a few minutes. They hooked what they thought was another shark, and were fighting it, when Jonny spotted what looked like a marlin coming right in on the other baits.

Jonny had an akule and opelu in the water. The marlin whacked the akule but didn’t eat it. He didn’t have a choice in putting out an aku, so he dropped the opelu back. The marlin grabbed the opelu and turned.

At first, it didn’t know it was hooked, as the fish slowly pulled off steady line. Jonny fed the marlin for several seconds before locking up the reel. It casually swam around for a while before it figured out it was hooked and then took off.

They were still fighting the shark that was right under the boat, with it luckily heading toward the bow. Jukka had two fish swimming 180 degrees in opposite directions away from the boat. They made the decision to leave the shark and go after the marlin, which, by that time, had pulled off 500 yards of the 60-pound test line.

The shark finally broke off, so they could focus on the marlin. They short-stack their 50-class reels, because they are usually fishing for tuna and mahi. By the time Jukka got the stern turned toward the marlin, they only had about 50 yards of line left on the spool.

Jukka reversed the boat aggressively after the marlin for a solid 20 minutes before they got the mono back on the spool. Shortly after that, they saw it jump out of the water. Nothing spectacular – just several slow full body lunges. The fish looked 300-plus.

For the next two hours, they had a hard time keeping the mono on the spool and preventing the line loss. The marlin kept running away from them, diving down, pulling 30-40 yards at a time. They kept changing out anglers in the stand-up harness until they all began to tire.

Jonny took over and fought the fish from the port side gunnel for about 20 minutes, “Portuguese pulling” in the line, but that wasn’t working out that well. He was just trying not to lose any more line, to feel it out and not break it off.

Jonny definitely gained more line than he lost, even thought it wasn’t the most efficient way, because the marlin kept changing directions, almost hitting the boat with the line on each crossing and putting a lot of pressure on the rod tip. Once Jonny got most of the line back, the marlin never went deep again.

With the marlin constantly changing directions across the stern, they had to fight it stand-up on the stern rail. They couldn’t put the rod in the chair because of the stand-up 50-class rod. Also, they were on top of the fish so much that they were borderline about to back over the line most of the time.

Two-and-a-half hours into the fight, they finally saw deep color. As they got it a little closer, it took off again on a short run. The fish kept going from side to side right off the stern. At one point, it was straight under the boat, with them marking it at 60 feet. The next hour, the marlin stayed in a give and take stalemate between 60-100 feet.

It was one of those deals – the longer they fought the marlin, they figured they had put so much time into the fight that they should do what they can to finish it out. It was nonstop chasing after the marlin. There was no stopping it. They had to keep as much pressure on the fish and try to get it to come to the surface.

The last half hour, Jonny fought the marlin stand-up. He had the drag to “sunset” as he thumbed the spool, with the rod bowed over the rail. The fish worked him from side to side, all across the backdeck. He wasn’t going to give up the rod until he had the fish to the boat. He couldn’t believe that he didn’t break it off.

The marlin finally came up really tired right off the stern, turning up the starboard side. Jukka had the harpoon out and ready. As soon as the fish neared the surface, Jonny unhooked himself from the stand-up harness, handed the rod to one of the charters and harpooned the marlin. He grabbed the leader and harpoon line and pulled it in.

Jukka got it secured with a fly-gaff and meat hook under the jaw. The marlin took them just over five miles before they finally had it boated.