A group of anglers has teamed to capture a 925-pound blue marlin off Hawaii after a seven-hour struggle that became much more difficult — and perilous — after the enormous billfish died during a deep dive.
Charlotte Smith, while aboard the Ikaika Kai out of Maui Sportfishing Charters in Lahaina, Maui, fought the marlin for nearly three hours as it tried every trick it could muster to shake the hook.
The Lahaina News described the early stage of the battle: “The marlin got contorted as it snaked along in midair, then headed in a big circle, throwing a rooster tail of whitewater as it tail-walked everywhere, tearing up the surface for a couple of minutes.”
After about 2.5 hours, as the marlin had begun to employ a less-frenetic circling tactic, “it stopped circling, peeled off 300-400 yards straight down and died.”
That was when Capt. Neil Preston strapped himself into the fighting chair, clipped himself into the harness attached to the fishing pole, and began to try to reel in a monstrous sinking mass under the control of swift and powerful currents.
So great was the pressure that the screws holding the chair to the deck of the boat tore loose, nearly sending the chair and Preston overboard. The rod became pinned onto the stern rail while Preston, behind the rod and still secure in the harness, held onto the rail for dear life.
Co-captain Kamal Pfeifle and angler Atul Madan were able to help Preston out of the chair and to the starboard rail, where the rod was un-clipped from the harness and placed into a rod holder.
Preston took the controls and tried to maneuver the vessel with the currents in a way that enabled Atul to reel and Pfeifle to hand-line the fish in a grueling exercise that seemed to last an eternity.
Preston and Pfeifle traded tasks because hand-lining caused severe cramps. “There was a point, six hours into the fight, when both Neil and Kamal were 98 percent sure they weren’t going to get the fish,” the Lahaina News stated.
But as the marlin slowly surfaced it became lighter, and ultimately it emerged in the moonlight.
“Just to see that big silhouette and go, ‘Man, we actually got this one…’ ” Preston said.
It was his largest marlin in 22 years of fishing and, according to the newspaper, the largest marlin for a female angler in Hawaii since 1990.
– Image: From left, Atul Madan, Charlotte Smith, Neil Preston and Kamal Pfeifle pose with 915-pound marlin. I age is courtesy of Donnell Tate / Maui Sportfishing Charters
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