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Jun Ken Po lands tough 475.2-pound blue marlin

By Staff | Dec 7, 2017

From left, Tami Ramsey, Daniel Barnes, Capt. Kevin McLaughlin and deckman John French with their 475.2-pound marlin. PHOTO BY JOHN FRENCH.

LAHAINA – The Jun Ken Po is on a roll, landing another nice blue marlin. This one weighed 475.2 pounds by Tami Ramsey and Daniel Barnes. They were fishing with Capt. Kevin McLaughlin and deckman John French.

Kevin headed the boat toward Lanai, trying to get behind the island and find some leeward weather. He got out to the 100-fathom ledge off Kamaiki, trying to get out as far as they could.

They made it to the 150-fathom ledge off “Armchair” when the weather got too rough. Kevin made a turn, falling off back toward Maui. About five minutes later, they had a bite on the long rigger position.

John watched the marlin come up on the long rigger position, missing the lure. It came right back in seconds later and ate it. John shouted, “Oh, we just had a bite.”

The marlin never jumped on the strike and didn’t act like a big fish. John left the rod in the holder until Tami got into the chair. As he waited for her, he cleared the long corner. As soon as John got the rest of the pattern cleared, Kevin had the boat neutral to idle reverse.

The marlin only took a couple hundred yards of 130-test line as it stayed on the surface. About five minutes later, the fish came up jumping 3-4 times away to starboard. Kevin was calling it 300-400 pounds with it 150 yards away.

Kevin backed the boat in idle reverse, not too aggressive into the wind and swell. Tami had the marlin close to the rubber band on the spool in 25 minutes. All of a sudden, they hit a stalemate.

The first time the rubber band came up, they still didn’t realize it was a big fish. The rubber band was on and off the reel in a yo-yo, give and take battle. Kevin had John put the reel into low gear and push up the drag. The marlin would pull off 20 feet at a time, with Tami getting it back in a couple of minutes, with this tug of war going on for the next half hour.

They were in four- to six-foot swell, with the marlin trying to take them into the swell and wind. Kevin was constantly losing the angle on the fish. He tried to plane it up several times, getting up on top of it repeatedly.

About 45 minutes into the fight, Tami started to tire. John got Daniel in the chair, with the marlin within 50-60 feet. John pushed the drag to the button with the rubber band still off and on the rod the next ten minutes.

Daniel got the rubber band back on the spool, but they were still in a give and take stalemate. They just couldn’t get the marlin up the last 20-30 yards. Daniel would get a couple of feet then lose it right back out. John got Daniel into a rhythm, with the rubber band finally back on the spool for good an hour into the fight.

The marlin still wanted to go into the swell and take them back into deeper water into the wind. They did not want to go back into any rougher water. Kevin tried to cut it off to turn it to port as he backed around the fish. The wind and swell was fighting them the worst.

The marlin was constantly digging down. John could see it swimming below in deep color 30 feet below. They finally had it turned with the boat.

The marlin did not want to come up. It sat there for over 30 minutes, with it swimming back and forth, pacing itself. This fish was not tired.

Kevin told John to push the drag over the button and put some heat on the marlin, with it at 30 pounds of pressure. Daniel was finally able to get some better lifts and not lose line. The first time they had the double line to the surface, John got his first good look at the fish, realizing it was over 400 pounds.

Multiple times, Daniel would get five feet and then lose it right away.

Every time a big swell would come up, they would lose line. They finally got the marlin swimming down-swell, with Daniel getting a final lift off the starboard corner. The double line was straight up and down.

John grabbed the double line just before the swivel. When he grabbed the swivel, he pulled the marlin up. He told Daniel to crank in the line with the swivel to the rod tip.

The fish was still digging down. John grabbed the leader with both hands as he dug his knees into the cap rail. He held on with all he could as the marlin swam down-swell off the starboard side, trying to plane away from the boat.

John was finally able to get his first wrap. He used the swell to lift the fish the last few feet. He would pause in between swells, and on the downward motion he was able to get another wrap with his other hand.

When John got the marlin almost to gaff range, it tried to swim under the starboard corner, but he held on and was able to turn it outward. As he took his last wrap, he pulled it up on the corner. Kevin came off the helm to finally get it secured. They pulled it around to the stern door and into the boat, ending the hour-and-45-minute battle.

This marlin was hooked really well. The lead hook was in the corner of the upper jaw, with the trailing hook around the bill into the top of the jaw on the other side. Both hooks were tight to each other between the cable.

This article is a final memorial to a longtime friend and fellow fisherman. Just two days after catching this marlin, Captain Kevin McLaughlin passed on into the deep blue sea. He will always be remembered and never forgotten.