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Birthday boy lands 545.6-pound marlin

By BY DONNELL TATE/Harbor Report - | Jul 9, 2021

From left, Deckman Kihe, Kevin Ragsdale and Capt. Brad Coombs with their 545.6-pound blue marin caught on Reel Hooker. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.

LAHAINA — The Reel Hooker joined the 500-pound marlin club, weighing a 545.6-pound blue by birthday boy Kevin Ragsdale. He was fishing with Captain Brad Coombs and Deckman Kihe.

On the way in, they had a bite 150 fathoms off Black Manele, Lanai, a small blue around 150 pounds that didn’t stick. Brad was just joking with Kihe that with all the small blues coming in, there had to be a female around somewhere. A half-hour later, they had the bite.

As they were coming up on the Kamaiki Point ledge, Kihe changed out all the lures to chrome ono jets. He left the long gone jet out in the pattern. Just as Brad crossed the ledge at 50 fathoms, they had a strike on the long gone position.

The marlin grabbed the long gone lure, jumped and spit the bait, with the line flying back at them. Kihe dropped the lure backward, playing with it for about 10-15 seconds. He watched the fish following the lure, but it wouldn’t take it.

Brad saw a splash behind the lure. Kihe teased the lure one more time, with the marlin coming back in and grabbing it.

It immediately took off jumping at least 20 times, back and forth, kicking up a lot of whitewater tail-walking, and leaping clear of the surface. It kept it up for at least a minute, putting on a killer show. They were calling it 350.

After the long gone aerial display, the marlin took off nonstop for 300-400 yards for about 60 seconds.

Once it slowed down, it started jumping again a few more times before it settled down. Kihe had the lines cleared as Brad started to back after it.

Brad aggressively reversed after the marlin for about 60 seconds to slow the line loss as Kihe got Kevin settled in and clipped to the fighting harness. The fish stayed near the surface most of the fight. Brad watched the line and kept a good angle for Kevin to gain on the fish as he chased it down.

Kevin was a tough kid, mentioned Brad. He knew what he was doing, and had it pretty much under control. In about ten minutes, they had it close to the boat.

Brad could see it for the first time, and said, “This thing’s bigger than we thought.”

When Kevin cranked it to the back of the boat a few minutes later, Kihe got the leader.

When he finally looked back and saw color, he watched the marlin make a barrel roll and knew the fish was pau.

From the bridge, Brad could see that the fish wasn’t swimming, as Kihe brought it up the port side of the boat.

It was hooked solid. The lead hook was stuck in the bottom jaw, with the leader wrapped several times around the bill and jaw.

The trailing hook was coming out of its mouth sideways, cinching the mouth closed. It couldn’t open its mouth to breathe and suffocated.

As Kihe held the leader, Brad kept the boat idled ahead and came down to secure Kevin’s birthday fish in only 25 minutes on 50-pound test line. Nice birthday present.