The Big Blue Ocean Exploration

Angler shakes off seasickness, lands monstrous blue marlin off Kona, Hawaii

Alexandra Nuttall's catch of 958-pound billfish is a potential world record

Alexandra Nuttall had spent years trying to catch her first Pacific blue marlin, and it looked as though she’d strike out again during a recent trip to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

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Alexandra Nuttall poses with 958-pound blue marlin caught off Kona. Credit: Monkey Biz II Sportfishing

She and her boyfriend were on their third and final day of fishing aboard Monkey Biz II, before flying back home to Australia. It was getting late and the boat was headed to port, and Nuttall had become seasick.

But that’s when the monstrous marlin struck one of the trolling lures. Nuttall sprang to life, grabbed the rod, climbed into the fighting chair, and waged a long but successful battle with an enormous marlin that probably will earn the angler a world record.

The great billfish towered above the angler during the weigh-in and tipped the scale at 958 pounds. The current International Game Fish Association women’s record for 130-pound-test is a 950-pound blue marlin caught off Mauritius by Maria Tomaini in December of 1994.

“It was without a doubt one of the most exhilarating things that I have ever done,” Nuttall said of her catch. “I fish a lot back home in Australia with my boyfriend, Nick. Although I have caught many sharks, ono, and ahi here at home, I have spent the last few years chasing my elusive first marlin.”

Chip van Mols, captain of the 38-foot Monkey Biz II, said he was hired specifically to find a blue marlin for Nuttall, and that he knew the fish weighed at least 900 pounds when it jumped soon after striking the lure.

“She was kind of in shock,” he said of the angler’s response to such an impressive sight. “We usually let our marlin go but we were prepared to take a fish if we knew it had a shot at a record. So we got our flying gaffs out.”

Nuttall, who was no longer queasy, fought the marlin for about 90 minutes before it was brought alongside the boat, whereupon it was subdued with gaffs and hauled aboard by crewman J.D. Hudson, Nick Durham (Nuttall’s boyfriend), and Van Mols.

“It was a task dragging a huge marlin like that through the [vessel's] back door with only four people, but we managed,” Nuttall said. “The feeling that we may have gotten the world record only sunk in on our way back to the harbor. I don’t remember ever feeling the sort of happiness that I was feeling at that point.”

An IGFA representative questioned Nuttall at the marina and her catch has been submitted as a potential line-class world record. She won’t know for at least a few weeks whether she’ll be credited with the record, but Van Mols said IGFA rules were adhered to during the fight.

Of Nuttall he added: “She did an outstanding job. She’s a strong girl with good strong legs.”

[Related: The biggest fish ever caught from a kayak.]

The captain said the marlin did not go to waste. “The front half of the fish was molded by a local taxidermist to make a head mount for Alex, and the back half was sold for marlin jerky,” he said.

The Kona coast is famous for its big blue marlin and several weighing 500 pounds or more have been caught during the spring. The action usually picks up during the summer, Van Mols said, but the larger fish become harder to find.

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–Hat tip to the Billfish Report