By Capt. Mark Johnston
Tournament angler Keith Hilton had an unreal day fishing onboard the Marlin Magic II with Capt. Marlin Parker when he landed a monster 1,035-pound blue marlin on the third and final day of Kona’s Big Island Marlin Tournament! The gigantic blue was the first grander caught off Kona since August 26, 2015, and the kind of fish that has made Kona famous and known as one of the world’s greatest blue marlin fishing destinations.
Fishing with the longtime veteran captain, deckhand Ryan Thurner and crewmember Carol Lynne, Hilton jumped on the rod when the gargantuan fish inhaled a Marlin Magic Ruckus Lure. After an epic 20-minute battle with the fish jumping all over the place, whitewater erupting everywhere, the swivel hit the rod tip and Thurner grabbed the leader and wired the fish alongside the boat. Brian Rice threw the first gaff, followed by Parker coming down off the bridge and sinking the second gaff for reassurance. Ozzy Culhaghil recorded the event for tournament director Jody Bright and Carol Lynne, as always, took great action photos.