Thousand-pound marlin makes Hawaiian wedding even grander

July 23, 2021

Bill Schab, a long-standing and colorful attorney in Lewes, knew a few things when he and his family flew to Hawaii in June.

He knew he was on his way to adding a daughter-in-law, Tia Neall, to his family.

He knew his son Corey’s wedding with Tia had been postponed a year because of the coronavirus epidemic.

He knew he had booked a tuna-fishing trip for Corey and other members of the wedding party.

What he didn’t know was that the tuna-fishing trip would become an epic battle with a 1,040-pound blue marlin reputed to be the fourth-largest ever caught and landed in Hawaiian waters.

Scars and bruises, hand-lining and reeling for hours on end, giant fish, glaring Pacific sun, infinite ocean. The story has elements of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, except it was the young guns on board that brought the saga to a more successful ending than was the case with Hemingway’s shark-plagued Santiago.

“We were out in Capt. Tony Brown’s Boom Boom II, a 50-foot sportfisherman that docks at Waianae Harbor on Oahu,” said Schab. “Capt. Tony is a lacrosse buddy of my brother Ray who lives in Hawaii.

“We were just going out for a couple of hours and caught a 125-pound tuna almost right away. We hung around for a little while longer before the time was up and we brought in the lines. Capt. Tony said we would troll on the way back in.”

That’s when the excitement started. Schab said they were about a mile from the harbor, in 1,800 feet of blue water and well in sight of lush green Oahu, when a trolling line snapped out of one of the outriggers.

“We all turned to look in the vicinity of the line. But then, off to the other side, there was this booming sound like the water was exploding. Then it happened again. A lot of commotion. Like some creature slapping an ocean of water. We just saw its outline. It never jumped straight up. But it was awesome. I had never seen a fish like that in my life.”

With the fish clearly hooked, the battle began.

“Four young men, one on the reel and three hand-over-handing the line, took four and a half hours to finally land the fish. It dragged us 15 miles all around the ocean. We had 3,000 feet of line on the reel, and we came close to running out of that. Four times the fish came within 100 feet of the boat before they were finally able to land it.”

TJ Schab, Bill’s nephew and mate on Capt. Tony’s boat, spent a lot of his time hanging over the stern, hand-pulling the fish, close to the water. “His hands were scarred and bruised from the ordeal,” said Schab.

Tired and worn out, the crew finally made its way back to the docks with the biggest fish Capt. Tony had ever seen. There, they weighed the fish, celebrated, took pictures, cut off fin and tail of the 14.5-foot blue marlin for a mount, and then prepared the meat to be smoked and distributed by a local food bank, as is common with large fish.

The ahi tuna sashimi, said Schab, was served to and savored by about 70 wedding guests at the June 25 rehearsal dinner at his Hawaii house.

One other interesting sidelight to the story: 

In the sportfishing world, fish over 1,000 pounds are known as granders. According to the website, on the same day the Schab party caught their 1,040-pound blue marlin, a fishing party thousands of miles away off the Pacific island of Tahiti caught another grander, this one a 1,058-pound black marlin. Brobible reported the catches to be the first time in recorded history that two granders were caught on the same day.

Did someone say memorable?

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