1,022-POUND MARLIN NEARLY A WORLD RECORD

kona fishingNothing could tempt Molly Palmer and her team on board the Kona, Hawaii, charter boat Anxious to break the IGFA angling rules.

Not a World Record. Not even a share of a $129,000 prize purse.

It was the classic fishing story — the great, massive blue marlin fought hard and put up an epic battle, but with a modern twist. This was a young woman, not an old man — and the marlin on the end of the line would easily take first place in the 26th Big Island Marlin Tournament held in Kona, Hawaii, for a total purse worth $129,690.

If the big blue marlin weighed more than 950 pounds, it would also claim a new IGFA world record.

mollyFishing off the Kona coast, Molly hooked into the monster blue marlin, got strapped into the fighting harness and went to work. Four hours later, she was actually farther away from catching the behemoth than she was when it bit, and she was out of gas. Now, she knew exactly how the Old Man and the Sea felt.

Molly's problem was not sharks. It was simpler. It is a fundamental fact of the sport often overlooked in the hyperbole — a marlin cannot be caught unless it comes to the surface of the ocean.

Molly's fish stayed deep.

Capt. Neil 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 try to grab the leader and manhandle the fish to the boat.

The fish dove deeper. The clock ticked past four hours.

Molly and the marlin gave out about the same time. It was truly a standoff. Neither could win, yet neither could go any farther. 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. She made the decision and asked the crew to lend her a hand, but the crew all knew that this meant they would win no money. They went for the line and never even considered cheating.

It took the five male crewmen two more hours to land the monster that had died during the battle and get it to the dock, where it tipped the scales at 1,022.5 pounds. It would've won first place in the Big Island Marlin Tournament, but they did not try to claim it. It was world-record size, too. The did not try for a record either.

Sad? Full of regret? Hell no! A world-record size party ensued and Molly went back out fishing the next day.

For more information on the Big Island Marlin Tournament visit www.konatournaments.com.

JODY BRIGHT

In 1987 a group of charter boat skippers and crewmen in Kona got together and created the Big Island Marlin Tournament to offer the world a competition that was created by professional big-game fishermen, not theorists. Capt. Jody Bright created a second competition the following summer, the Firecracker Open Big Game Fishing Tournament. Eventually Jody created a parent company, Tropidilla Productions LLC, to run the tournaments.

Over the past 26 years, many formats and events have been launched and perfected or thrown out, settling in with the current Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series. The HMTS is comprised of five qualifying contests and a series championship.