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Memorial Day monster marlin landed in Lahaina in 2015

By Staff | Jun 4, 2020

Capt. Jay Rifkin (left) and Co-capt. Chris Cole with their “Grander” caught in 2015.

LAHAINA – The Jun Ken Po landed a “Grander” blue marlin weighing 1,058.3 pounds by Capt. Jay Rifkin and Co-capt. Chris Cole on Memorial Day in 2015.

They were working the 200-fathom ledge off Manele Bay, Lanai, when they had their strike about a mile-and-a-half away. Chris was on the helm when he spotted a “softball bat” size bill come up behind the short corner position. It was pushing a big whitewater wake behind the lure, causing it to miss it.

The marlin turned its head as it reached the short corner lure. Chris free-spooled the lure backward as the fish launched itself on the lure, mouth wide open. It turned its head back toward the lure, sucking it down its throat. Chris fed the fish for 3-4 seconds before he pushed up the drag to the strike position.

The marlin turned and took off straight down the pattern, peeling off 600 yards of 130-test line before it showed itself. It could barely get out of the water as it lunged across the surface, pushing big wakes of whitewater behind it.

About 90 seconds later, Chris looked at the reel and saw the gold of the spool showing, knowing that they were about to get spooled. With less than 20 yards of Dacron backing left, Chris shouted up to Jay, “We need to turn and chase now.”

With the marlin heading off the port side, Jay turned the boat in that direction. The rod was in the port side holder of the fighting chair, so Chris grabbed the rod out of the holder and pointed it forward off the port side. As Jay started to gain on the fish, Chris noticed the big bow in the line.

Chris could barely hold onto the 130-class rod, cranking as fast as he could, trying to stop the line loss. Jay kept heading the boat to port, trying to cut off the angle of the fish. Chris continued cranking until he had the bow out and line straight, gaining about 100 yards in the process. They still had a lot of Dacron backing out.

After getting a comfortable amount of Dacron back on the spool, Jay turned the stern around. Chris cranked the line straight behind the stern as Jay started to reverse the boat after the marlin. They had a lot of pressure on the fish. Chris cranked for several minutes, finally getting all the Dacron back on the spool.

The marlin was still near the surface, with a good angle on the line. They were slowly gaining some line. After a half hour, they had packed about 400 yards on the spool, with 600 yards still out.

Two hours into the fight, the marlin made another slow run, pulling off 100 yards. After it stopped, it was fairly straight up and down. At that point, they ran into a stalemate. The fish was gradually taking line as it crackled off the spool.

They thought that the marlin had died, so Chris tried to slowly handline it up, trying to get the fish to budge. There was no movement at all from it. Chris bumped up the drag a little higher.

Chris moved the rod to the port side gunnel and sat behind it. With the reel in low gear, Chris started to “Portuguese pull” on the line and crank. Little by little, gaining some line. Anytime that Chris let go of the line, it would gradually crackle off the spool. After about 30 minutes of pulling and cranking, Chris’s forearms started to cramp up. He shouted up to Jay to come down and take over.

Jay had the boat heading down-current in neutral. There were big swells and wind behind them, pushing them along at 2-3 knots. After Chris took a short break, he pushed up the drag to around 50 pounds of pressure.

Chris and Jay took turns cranking and pulling line for the next 30 minutes.

Finally, after three hours of brutal torture, the marlin popped up like a submarine. It rolled onto its side, about short corner distance from the boat off the port side. Jay quickly pulled the fish in as Chris got it secured and half hitched the bill.

The next problem was trying to get the beast into the boat. Jay and Chris tried for 30 minutes to try to pull it through the stern door, only getting the head in. The Start Me Up Cuz was in the area on a charter, so they called them over to help.

The captain and deckman from the Cuz jumped aboard, as Jay went to their boat with the charter. With two more fresh arms, they still couldn’t get it through the door. Jay maneuvered the Cuz back over to the Jun Ken Po, and got four of the charters to jump aboard to also help out. With seven guys pulling, they finally got the “Grander” in the boat.

This marlin was 14 feet, five inches from tip of bill to tail, with an 11-foot, eight-inch short length, a 37-inch half-shoulder girth, a 34.5-inch half-anal girth and a 19.5-inch caudal. It was estimated to be around 25 years old.

It was the largest marlin landed on Maui since 7/18/2007. It is also the second largest charter boat marlin and sixth largest marlin landed on Maui since 1982.