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Lahaina team wins 2018 Blue Marlin World Cup Tourney

By Staff | Jul 26, 2018

The Blue Marlin World Cup winning team included (from left): back row — Brian Clark, Capt. Bob Schnoor, James Blanton and Derek Escalera Jr.; front row — Derek Escalera and Capt, Dave Bensko.

LAHAINA- The 31-foot Bertram Trouble Maker from Lahaina Harbor won the 2018 Blue Marlin World Cup Tournament out of Kona, Hawaii, with a 760.5-pound fish by Derek Escalera Jr. Team members were Capt. Bob Schnoor, Derek Escalera, Derek Escalera Jr., James Blanton, Brian Clark and Capt. Dave Bensko.

With the Trouble Maker being from Maui, Schnoor had Kona Capt. Bensko aboard for some local water knowledge. The past two days, most of the marlin bites had been down south toward Captain Cook.

They were mostly small fish, but with all the small marlin around, there had to be a Big Girl around somewhere, mentioned Derek Jr.

With Start Fishing at 8:30 a.m., Bob motored the boat down to the area by 7:30 a.m. and got set up. Once they started fishing the area off “Lava Flows,” there were 100-pound tunas jumping around the boat. Bob made a pass through the school, getting no bites. He then made a big circle around the school. The second pass was through the school, and they got a strike on the short corner Steve Elkins custom-made Bonzoid lure.

Derek Jr. was in the cabin when he heard the rubber band snap off the rigger. As he ran out on the deck, he literally made eye contact with the marlin. Its head and shoulders were out of the water, its mouth wide open, with the Elkins Bonzoid lure inside. Derek Jr. knew it was a big fish.

The marlin engulfed the lure and sat there in the prop wash for a few seconds before it turned and took off straight down the pattern, ripping the 130-test line off the 130-class Accurate TwinDrag reel. Once it got out about 300-400 yards, it made several nice whitewater tail-walks before settling down on the surface.

Bob had the boat “dead boat” until the marlin stopped taking line, and then bumped the boat into gear to keep a little pressure on the line and fish as they cleared the rest of the pattern. Once Bob began to reverse on the fish, Derek Jr. started to gain steady line.

The marlin took off again on another 300-yard run off to the starboard side. Bob turned the stern to starboard, chasing the belly in the line for about 10-15 minutes. Once he got straight on the fish, he turned the boat and motored ahead running parallel to the fish, trying to cut off the run it was taking for another ten minutes. The marlin was swimming hard as Bob tried to stay ahead of it and keep it from coming around and going under the boat.

Once Bob got on top of the fish, the rod was bent over the stern as the marlin went straight down into the cooler waters. Derek Jr. fought the marlin for the first hour in high gear. He could barely gain any line as he tried to “Portuguese pull” in line, getting a quarter- of-a-crank each time. He was having a hard time changing the reel into low gear because of all the pressure from the fish. Finally, he was able to change gears.

About ten minutes later, Dave went to the helm to try a few tricks and techniques to confuse the marlin by planing and circling the fish. It was deep and swimming slow with them in a bit of a stalemate. The marlin kept dogging them, being stubborn. “The fish was really active underwater,” mentioned Bob.

With the reel into low gear, Derek Jr. could really get on it and gain line. After about 15-20 minutes, Bob could see the line angle coming up as Derek Jr. packed the spool. Bob looked at the reel to see how much line was still out.

Bob told Dave, “She’s coming up, Dave; she’s coming up,” as it started to rise faster. Bob went back to the helm so Dave could leader the fish.

The marlin popped up behind the boat and rolled onto its side about 20 yards out. It was really docile, barely kicking. Bob reversed the boat right up to it as Derek Jr. cranked the swivel to the rod tip. Dave grabbed the leader and pulled it to the swim step, and then around to the port side where Derek secured it with the fly-gaff.

Derek Jr. mentioned, “It was something else – insane. It was a fish of a lifetime for me for sure. A fish that matters in that moment. To have a fish like that in a tournament like that, I almost wanted to cry when we got that thing on the deck finally. I can’t even describe the emotions. All the adrenalin was flowing; it was crazy, man. I’ll be looking for that feeling for a long time.”

Trouble Maker’s blue marlin was the only qualifying blue marlin weighed in the tournament in the world. They won the tournament cash plus the optional Big Blue Challenge, making it just over a $1.2 million payday, and brought the World Cup title back to Kona.

The Blue Marlin World Cup is a one-day shootout held on July 4 each year. Blue marlin are the only eligible species, with a required minimum of 500 pounds, in a winner-take-all format. Teams fish from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in their respective time zones around the world. Approximately 148 boats participated from ten countries in this year’s event.