By Capt. Mark Johnston
Capt. Marlin Parker, Marlin Magic II
Homeport: Kona, Hawaii
Boat: 54-foot Allied
Capt. Marlin Parker, and crew members Ryan Thurner and Carol Lynne work together on the Marlin Magic II like a well-oiled machine. The close-knit group gets plenty of practice fishing together too – around 200 days a year. In an average year, the crew will catch approximately 80-100 blue marlin, with 95% of those fish being tagged and released.
Parker is a dedicated, highly respected captain who has fished Kona’s blue waters for over 44 years. He is no stranger to the winner’s circle, winning multiple first-place wins in Kona and Los Cabos, Mexico. While Marlin and company have tasted victory before, the 2019 Big Island Marlin Tournament was one they will not soon forget.
When asked what he thinks makes the Marlin Magic II a successful tournament fishing machine, the good-humored captain credits his more than 40 years of experience off Kona, his fiancé Carol Lynne – who acts as crew/hostess/professional photographer, and crew member Ryan Thurner who has been fishing with him for the past three years.
Parker believes that maintaining a positive attitude is the key to tournament fishing. Keeping a good vibe on the boat is very important here because while fishing off Kona, anything can happen. The standings can change in a second. From Parker’s perspective, it’s essential to have a competent crew that goes above and beyond in ensuring that not only do clients have an enjoyable experience while fishing, but that the boat is fine-tuned both above and below the waterline.
Approach for Big Island Marlin Tournament (BIMT)
No matter what tournament he’s fishing, Parker always fishes five Marlin Magic Lures. Every morning he handpicks the spread, factoring in conditions and what he’s “feeling” that particular day. At the end of day two of the three-day tournament, Parker had his work cut out for him. He had tagged two blue marlin. Meanwhile, Capt. Tracy Epstein on the Last Chance had tagged 12 blues. Making the prospect of a comeback that much more daunting, Capt. Teddy Hoogs on the Bwana weighed a 671.5-pounder and tagged seven more blues.
On the final day, the veteran captain knew he had to swing for the fences. He had Thurner put a XXL Ruckus on the short corner, a Lava Ruckus on the short rigger, a Regular Shell Ruckus on the long corner, a Mirror Bigeye on the long rigger and a Baby Blue Bullet on the stinger.
Parker knew that with all the small male blue marlin around there had to be a big one around, too. Going to his memory bank, he chose to fish the spot where he caught a 973-pound marlin ten years ago.
As if on cue, a huge shadow appeared behind the lure in the short corner. An enormous blue marlin appeared, pushing wake off its head and shoulders like a submarine. Everyone on board saw the fish and angler Keith Hilton jumped on the rod when the gargantuan fish inhaled the Lava Ruckus.
After an epic 20-minute battle with the big blue coming completely out of the water twice, and ripping across the ocean’s surface throwing whitewater everywhere, the swivel hit the rod tip. Thurner grabbed the leader on the still green fish, and the behemoth switched back and forth five times behind the transom before it was alongside the boat. Brian Rice threw the first gaff, followed by Parker coming down off the bridge, sinking the second gaff for reassurance.
Once on board, the fish measured 133.5-inch short with a 78-inch girth. On the scale, the gigantic blue weighed in at 1,035-pounds. The Marlin Magic II took the heaviest fish money and it was the first grander caught off Kona since August 26, 2015.