Friday, April 13, 2012

Huge blue marlin doesn't outweigh teen's fishing spirit

Frank Sinito Jr. is only 14 years old but has a whale of a fish tale to tell involving a blue marlin that would rival the story told by Ernest Hemingway in his “The Old Man and the Sea.”

While enjoying spring break in Hawaii March 27 with his parents Frank Sr. and Malisse of Waite Hill Village, “Frankie” was lucky enough to be in the “Finest Kind Charters’” fighting chair when good luck - and a 760-pound blue marlin - came together.

The fish’s other impressive facts were that it measured 16 feet and was the largest blue marlin reportedly taken from the waters between Maui and Lanai islands this year.

The epic battle took three hours but the fish was not the first of its kind for Frankie on this trip. Two days earlier he had hooked and landed a respectable and typically average-size 100-pound blue marlin.

That fish also came from the deck of the “Finest Kind” and skippered by charter captain Dave Hudson.

Not coincidentally this was the same vessel and the same charter captain that Frankie’s parents had hired for a day of fishing during their Hawaiian honeymoon some 24 years earlier.

Frank Sr. said that when they arrived at Hawaii for the family vacation he looked for a fishing charter and was more than pleasantly surprised to learn that the same boat and the same captain were available for hire.

But for Frankie what followed on his trip will be equally memorable as was the first one for his parents.

When the marlin struck a locally made foot-long “Breakfast for Monsters” imitation squid lure trolled at high speed along the water’s surface, Frankie was just hoping it would be something on the order of his previous 100-pound marlin.

However, Hudson knew the fish was big - maybe something on the order of 400 to 500 pounds, said the senior Sinito.

“Anything over 100 pounds and I would have been happy,” Frankie said. “I was just thinking that I had to get the fish to the boat, and when I finally saw it, it was like looking at a whale floating on the surface.”

Such a whale took some doing to subdue, too, Frank Sr. says.

“Frankie got tired out after a while and I took over but I couldn’t keep up with what I was supposed to do,” Frank Sr. said. “For the last 30 minutes I would pump the rod and every time I lowered the rod Frankie would start reeling in the slack line. When it finally surfaced we knew the fish was exhausted.”

At six feet tall and weighing 150 pounds the University School multidiscipline athlete was dwarfed by the super-size-me blue marlin.

“When we did get it into the boat the size of its mouth when opened was huge and its eyes were the size of softballs,” Frankie said.

Despite his young age Frankie has a lot of fishing experience underneath his fish-fighting belt. He and his father have frequented some of the finest salt-water and fresh-water fishing haunts.

Frankie has even caught billfish before but nothing even remotely close to his Hawaiian marlin catch while his best-ever fresh-water fish was a 20-pound chinook salmon taken from Lake Michigan.

Those fish, however, were just a prelude to Frankie’s run-in with one of sport fishing’s most revered billfish species.

The blue marlin is found in tropical waters throughout the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans where in the case of the latter the blue marlin is considered threatened due to over-fishing.

Not so in the Pacific, especially around the waters of the Hawaiian Islands which are regarded as the world’s finest trophy blue marlin fishing grounds.

While Frankie’s catch is notable the world-record blue marlin caught by a sport angler is a fish weighing 1,376 pounds and caught off Kona, Hawaii in May 1982.

On average the pelagic blue marlins that are caught by Hawaiian hook-and-line anglers weigh between 80 and 300 pounds. Almost certainly Frankie’s marlin was a female since males of the species rarely weigh more than 300 pounds.

Yet for all his work Frankie did not have the opportunity to either enjoy a grilled marlin fillet or even think about where to put a 16-foot-long fish mount on a family room wall.

As is the custom with nearly all salt-water fishing guides who deal in such species as tuna and blue marlin the catch becomes the property of the captain or boat.

And by law such catches can be sold commercially, typically to Japanese fish mongers who as often as not are awaiting at the dock to either buy or collect the catch. The fish is then flown whole by an awaiting jet to Japan where it is sliced and diced into sushi.

In the case of Frankie’s marlin the behemoth was sold even before the charter boat had tied up to the dock. The Sinito’s believe the fish was sold for $1.50 per pound.

As for Frankie and his father their reward for the son catching the marlin was a pair of T-shirts provided by the fishing lure’s manufacturer, Hawaiian Custom Lures.

Plus a lifetime’s worth of fishing memories, of course.

“It would be nice to go again and try to catch one bigger but I know that would be a hard thing to do,” Frankie said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFRischkorn@News-Herald.com
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

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