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Top blue marlin for 2019

By Staff | Jan 16, 2020

From left, Deckman John Verfurth, Capt. Jonny Keiley and Todd Spence landed the year’s biggest marlin at 728.0 pounds. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.

LAHAINA – 2019 was the worst year for big blue marlin over 400 pounds since I started keeping big blue stats in 1984, with only six making it to the scales (728.0, 666.0, 503.8, 495.5, 483.0 and 434.4 pounds). I had to go back to 2016, when eight were weighed, and all the way back to 1988, when eight were also weighed. Most years see 15-25 blue marlin over 400 pounds in Lahaina.

There were only three 300-pounders weighed. The rest of the blue marlin totals for fish under 300 pounds was 102 weighed, with another 169 released, for a total of 271 fish.

The Action started off the New Year on the second day, joining the 700-pound marlin club and setting the Top Blue Stats high, with a 728.0-pound fish by Todd Spence. He was fishing with Capt. Jonny Keiley and Deckman John Verfurth.

Jonny was two miles outside the K-Buoy, coming back in from the MC-Buoy located off the southwest corner of Lanai, when they had a fish up on the short corner position.

The fish pulled the 130-test line real slow off the reel. The marlin swam with the boat for about 15-20 seconds before it turned and swam away. Once it realized it was hooked, it made one jump just outside the pattern and then ran out 400 yards, jumping again, as it took them into the Dacron backing.

With the rod in the center stern rod holder, Jonny backed after the marlin for about 15 minutes, with Todd and John switching off on the reel about every five minutes.

John pushed up the drag over the button to about 40 pounds of pressure as Jonny backed up to the marlin again, with it about 200 feet deep at this point. The fish came right to the surface, swimming away from them, as Jonny backed right up to it. John grabbed the leader and turned the marlin, getting it to swim with them.

John took double wraps and got it up right behind the stern. He pulled it around the starboard corner and up the side. Jonny came down and secured their catch. They killed it on heavy drag in only 30 minutes. This was the largest marlin since May 2018.

A blue marlin weighing 666.0-pounds, The “Number of the Beast that comes out of the sea” (Book of Revelations), was angled from the Die Hard 2, with Jeremy Johnson hauling in the fish. He was fishing with Capt. Jay Rifkin and Deckman Andy Payne.

They were 200 fathoms off the Palaoa Point Lighthouse, on the southwest corner of Lanai, when they had a strike on a Steve Elkins blue-back/red striped aku pusher at the long corner position. The marlin ran straight down the pattern for about 50 yards before going crazy, greyhounding back and forth across the surface for several minutes, kicking up a lot of whitewater.

Jay aggressively backed up on the fish in about 20 minutes, with it making 50- to 75-yard runs back and forth parallel to the boat in a give-and-take struggle. They couldn’t seem to stop it. Andy kept pushing up the drag.

Jeremy started gaining a lot of line during the next 15 minutes. It was about 20 yards deep and away when it spotted the boat and took off again. With all the action, the marlin seemed to die on them about 300 feet down.

With the fish straight down, dead weight, Jeremy got into a stalemate. They decided to put the rod into the port side gunnel. Over the next 40-minutes, as Jay planed the marlin, Jeremy and Andy switched off every five to ten minutes “Portuguese pulling” the line, gaining three yards at a time.

As the marlin started to surface, Jay backed up to it. It was done as it popped to the surface 20 feet out and rolled over. Andy grabbed the leader and pulled it to the starboard corner. Jay just needed a stick gaff to secure their catch.

This was the second largest marlin of the year, and third largest since June 2017.