Capt. Tom Krauss said there was "no doubt in my mind that the fish was well over 1,000 pounds" when the line finally broke after mate Scott Sumners had grabbed the leader for the third time during the battle.
Krauss said his fishing party was filling the fish box with tuna and gaffer dolphin when lightning struck.
"Timothy Keys was reeling in a 50-pound class yellowfin when this huge, dark shape appeared and sucked it down," Krauss said. "It was so sudden and so unexpected it took us a couple of minutes to recover from the shock and realize it was a huge blue marlin. It finally jumped a couple of times, and we saw what it was. I tried my best to scale it back to 800 pounds, but this fish was a grander (1,000 pounds or more) if it weighed an ounce.
Krauss (www.fishthehooker.com, 252- 473-1964) said the marlin was so big that when it tried to jump, it couldn't get all the way out of the water. He said Keys put as much pressure as possible on the fish, but the tuna had been hooked on a 50-wide outfit that didn't have strong-enough line or leader to fight the fish toe-to-toe.
"Scott had the leader three times, but (he) was afraid to horse it, to pull that huge fish to the transom," Krauss said. "He had it at about 20 minutes, again at about 30 minutes and lastly, at about 45 minutes. The line gave out after roughly an hour, and the fish was still hot.
"It was a good release," Krauss said. "However, if it had been on a heavy duty rig and outfit, we would have had to make the decision to take or release it. There is no doubt in my mind that fish was well over 1,000 pounds. I've seen several 600- and 700-pounders, and it was a lot bigger than them. On the lighter tackle, we knew we couldn't control it without wearing it down and decided not to wear it down that far and possibly lose it."
This action was just a little north of the boundary for the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament being held this week from Morehead City, but many of the tournament fishermen paid good attention to the story and are fishing near the northern boundary hoping this fish, or another like it, moves a little south.
A 50-pound class yellowfin tuna is a lot of meat, but is just a single meal for a marlin this big, and fishermen are betting it isn't enough to satisfy its hunger all week.
This video is fairly short, but it provides about a 10- or 15-second look at the huge marlin as it breaches the surface behind the Hooker.