Woman catches giant marlin, but chance at world record gets away

Molly Palmer, while competing in the recent Big Island Invitational Marlin Tournament off Kona, Hawaii, joined the exclusive “granders” club after landing a Pacific blue marlin weighing 1,022.5 pounds.

It was by far the largest marlin of the tournament and would have earned Palmer an International Game Fish Assn. world record.

But after four hours of reeling and gaining no line, she reluctantly agreed to let the crew assist in the catch, disqualifying her from the tournament and record consideration.

There’s no disgrace in this course of action. It happens quite often when these incredibly powerful billfish decide to go deep instead of fighting near the surface. The marlin at the end of Palmer’s line sounded so deeply that it eventually died, requiring the might of five crew members to hand-line the fish to the surface.

“Four hours later, she was actually farther away from catching the behemoth than she was when it bit, and she was out of gas,” wrote tournament director Jody Bright for BD Outdoors. “Now, she knew exactly how the ‘Old Man and the Sea’ felt.”

Palmer, 28, was not disappointed. She told the Associated Press: “The question was only can I land the fish or not. I didn’t come here to set world records. I didn’t even really come here to win money. I came here to catch fish and that’s just what we were there to do.”

Kona is known for its enormous blue marlin. The IGFA’s all-tackle world record, a 1,376-pound specimen, was caught off Kona in 1982.

Granders are caught only sporadically. The IGFA lists a 950-pound Pacific blue marlin, caught off Mauritius, as the largest caught by a woman.

Palmer, who was fishing aboard a yacht named Anxious, lost all chance at a world record, and taking home some of the $126,000 prize money, when she allowed the crew to begin hand-lining the fish. (Under tournament and IGFA rules, crew members cannot touch the line beneath the leader.)

“Capt. Neal Isaacs tried to maneuver the boat in such a way as to confuse the fish so it would rise up to the surface where the crew could grab the leader and manhandle the fish to the boat,” Bright explained. “[But] the fish dove deeper. The clock ticked past four hours.

“Molly and the marlin gave out at about the same time. Molly had whipped the fish, but the fish had whipped her back. Molly needed help to get the blue marlin to the surface, which would disqualify the catch in the tournament.”

Were there any regrets?

Bright concluded with this passage: “Sad? No way. Full of regret? Hell no! A world-record-size party ensued and Molly went back out fishing the next day.”

In other words, they had a grand old time.

To put Palmer’s catch into perspective, the tournament’s first-place marlin, at 550 pounds, weighed only slightly more than half of what her marlin weighed.