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Start Me Up Cuz lands an afternoon surprise blue marlin

By Staff | Aug 15, 2019

From left, Mason Sparks, Capt. Steve Carroll and Deckman Joel Cota with their 386.0-pound blue marlin caught on Start Me Up Cuz. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.

LAHAINA – The Start Me Up Cuz picked up an afternoon surprise blue marlin on a four-hour “Combo” trip, weighing a 386.0-pounder by Mason Sparks. He was fishing with Capt. Steve Carroll and Deckman Joel Cota.

Steve started off trolling as they left the harbor, heading out to do some deep-water jigging on one of the underwater pinnacles off the North side of Kahoolawe. As Steve got to the area, just inside the corner of the “Box,” Joel started to clear the trolling lures and switch over to jigs. There was one lure still in the water, a five-inch plug.

From the bridge rod holder, Steve cranked the lure in to about the long corner distance when he saw something come in and swat at it. As he looked back, he saw a blue marlin come back in and swat at the lure again, missing it. Steve reached over to the reel and immediately free-spooled it backward.

At that time, Steve was thinking a 150- to 200-pound blue. All he could see was its forehead. He kept teasing it, but it never would take the bait. Steve dropped the lure back one more time and had Joel put the long rigger lure back into the water, since it was still clipped on. Steve told Joel to put something bigger on the corner, out to about the third wave.

Steve started making a big U-turn circle. They were almost back to where they had the initial bite when the marlin came up real aggressive and inhaled the Maui Fishing Lures Tormentor lure at about the long corner distance. The marlin then turned around and started screaming off the 100-test line from the 50-class reel.

Joel didn’t have a lot of drag on the reel because they didn’t think it was that big. Steve let the fish dump line while Joel got the other two lures out of the water. As soon as they were cleared, Steve went immediately into reverse.

The marlin took 350-400 yards on the run. Steve wasn’t too aggressive, idle reverse, letting the fish run, do its thing and tire itself out. It came up jumping 4-5 times, getting full body airborne sideways, the whole nine yards. Steve told Joel, “That’s definitely a 250-pounder.”

The marlin went down at that point, and they never saw it again until it came up to double line. Steve was pretty consistent in reverse for the first 30 minutes. He was thinking it was either hooked funny or bigger than he thought. It was being way too aggressive. Even when Steve had both engines in reverse, the fish was still slowly pulling off 50 yards with no problem.

As the marlin would get about 50 yards from the boat, it would then turn and scream off 30-40 yards of line. About the fourth or fifth time, Steve figured it was definitely bigger than 250 pounds.

After about 30 minutes into the fight, the marlin decided to go down and dirty 60-80 yards. Once it went straight down, they fought it for 15-20 minutes in a give and take battle. It was a stubborn fish, making short runs of 20-30 yards each time. Mason started to slowly crank it back up.

Steve couldn’t see the marlin, with it about 60-80-feet deep. Finally, the marlin started coming up, swimming across the stern, staying sideways to the boat, swimming side to side. Steve finally got a deep color visual on it. He motored the boat forward, spinning one way on the fish, and as it turned the other way, he reversed in that direction. Steve made at least a half-dozen turns on it.

Finally, all of a sudden, the double line popped up. As soon as Joel saw the swivel, he grabbed the leader. Steve put one engine in gear. The marlin was surprisingly cooperative, swimming with them.

Steve told Joel to take wraps, hold the leader and don’t let it go. Joel had to walk the fish back and forth across the stern several times, as it couldn’t decide where it wanted to go.

Joel finally got the marlin to fully commit at the port corner to where he could pull it up high enough to gaff. They only had one small fly-gaff out, still thinking it was a smaller fish, with Steve getting a good shot right inside the gill plate. Joel grabbed a stick gaff to keep the fish calm along the side of the boat so they could get it secured.