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Maka Hou II of Kauai Sets Several Records With a Single Fish

On October 29, 1999, Tim Hale, owner of the Bertram 38 Maka Hou II of Nawiliwili, Kauai, set a personal best by skippering the catch of a 732 pound Pacific Blue Marlin only three miles from the harbor.  Hale’s angling guests, Brian and Shay Nicoud of Houston, Texas, chartered their fishing trip just like many people do here in Hawaii: find a good boat using a reputable booking company and then enjoy the results procured by a skipper’s experience.  Most people who fish in Hawaii know there is a big one waiting for somebody, however, the Nicoud’s probably had no idea just what it was the ocean had in store for them that day.

Kauai should never be overlooked as one of the great fisheries in Hawaii.  The blue water is very deep close to shore, and most angling heroics on the island take place within ten miles of the beach.  There are fewer charter boats and anglers in general that operate from this island, and thus many say Kauai produces more fish than any of the others in the chain.  And while the raw numbers of total catch will of course be lower than elsewhere, Kauai’s catch per boat ranks among the best in the world.

Maka Hou headed South after leaving the harbor on a choppy day.  Hale saw a pretty good sized pile of birds to the South that he thought had Mahimahi under them, but as he passed the 500 fathom line right around 8:00 am and still well within sight of the harbor, the reel exploded.  The initial run took almost the entire spool, leaving only a single wrap of line on the 80-class rig.  Although all indications of the strength of the run suggested it was a Marlin, it never went airborne or even broached the surface, causing everyone on board to merely speculate as to the species for much of the battle.

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The Nicoud's with their great catch

At about 45 minutes to an hour into the fight, the crew was able to identify the great fish as a Blue Marlin, the prized goal of all who enter the domain of saltwater angling.  Twice they got the mighty beast to leader, but it was just too green and rambunctious to manage.  They reluctantly let the fish swim away a third time, straining the limits of their trusty gear.  Hale worked relentlessly as he backed the big Bertram into rough seas while Brian worked even harder keeping tension on the line, developing a “record book” blister in the process.

On the third time up, the fish was ready to come home.  The crew later realized it had been hooked in an artery, and as they pressured the fish for the last time, it floated backwards up to the surface.  Hale kept backing down as Brian kept up the tension, because they knew this fish was one for the books of they could land it.  They also knew it was one for the sharks if they didn’t.

It took about an hour or so to secure the Marlin to the swim step, at which time they carried on with the trip.  Hale carried on toward the birds he thought had the Mahimahi (how rude of that Marlin to interrupt such a quest), and sure enough, Shay’s turn on the chair came along shortly thereafter.  After watching her husband strain with a giant fish for an hour or so, she was ready for her challenge when the reel went off again.  Alas, the 35 pound Mahimahi just didn’t have quite the power of the Marlin, and she was a little disappointed that she didn’t get to spend the next two days with sore muscles or develop an enormous blister on her hand.  Nonetheless, the happy couple both got the opportunity to enjoy a few Mai Tais and the hotel Jacuzzi afterward.

Hale is one of the most enthusiastic fishermen in Hawaii’s charter fleet, if not the world.   His boyish exuberance and outright love of fishing is demonstrated to each and every one of his guests despite long hours on the water and other problems inherent in the sportfishing industry, not to mention the thousands of tunas he caught while fishing commercially.  And on this day, his efforts paid off. 

The fish, not a release candidate because of the way it was hooked, was good for a number of firsts, seconds, and other bests.  In addition to being the largest ever caught by the Nicouds, the 732-pound pelagic was the largest recorded by the Kauai charter fleet for 1999 *, only 200 pounds shy of Wild Bunch’s 939 pound harbor record caught on Oahu in September.  It was also the largest fish caught by a Sportfish Hawaii customer in 1999, second largest by a Sportfish Hawaii boat overall in 1999, it was skipper Tim Hale’s personal best **, and perhaps most significantly, it was the first known fish caught in Hawaii that had the ability to discredit the perceived fight-worthiness of a Mahimahi.

Hawaii again proves itself as one of the greatest fisheries in the world, even in October.  From a 700 pounder on Kauai to a tournament-winning 900 pounder in Kona (see the Flying Fishing Freaks report) and all the stories in between, Hawaii consistently proves itself as the destination that produces big fish regardless of the month shown by the calendar hanging on the wall. 

* based on available data provided thus far – data can be difficult to obtain on Kauai.
** the 849 lb Black Marlin listed on the charter boat feature for Maka Hou was caught by co-owner and skipper Julie Hale. 

Links to subjects mentioned in the story:

Maka Hou II Charter Feature
Kauai Fishing Grounds
Wild Bunch’s 939 pounder
Flying Fishing Freaks Tournament Report

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