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Hawaii woman just misses record half-ton marlin catch

By Oskar Garcia

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:59 a.m. HST, Aug 23, 2012

A 5-foot-9-inch woman tournament fishing in Hawaii waters fought a 12-foot marlin more than four hours before getting it on her team's boat and weighing it at more than a half-ton — a would-be world record.

But 28-year-old Molly Palmer is missing out on the glory and thousands in tournament prize money for one pesky reason: Her team's honor code.

Cheating would have been easy and tempting. The Big Island Invitational Marlin Tournament runs in part on an honor system and Palmer, her captain and crewmates put up roughly $9,000 to enter last week.

But the Kailua-Kona angler said it wasn't a question of whether or not to cheat — her team just wanted to reel in the big catch. So they disqualified themselves and Palmer's crewmates helped pull the monstrous fish aboard.

"The question was only can I land the fish or not," Palmer told The Associated Press. "I didn't come here to set world records. I didn't even really come here to win money. I came here to catch fish and that's just what we were there to do."

Palmer needed to reel in the fish by herself in order for it to qualify as a valid catch for the tournament, according to rules set by the International Game Fishing Association.

Palmer's fish weighed in at 1,022.5 pounds, well over the record of 950 pounds for a woman using a 130-pound line, tournament organizer Jody Bright said.

Officials at the International Game Fishing Association were not immediately available late Wednesday.

"I've had people try to slide things past me for a whole lot less money, for a less important thing than a world record," Bright said.

"We don't have officials on the field like you do in baseball or football or anything like that," he said. "Everybody's playing on the open ocean playing field and since there's nobody there checking to see if you stepped out of bounds or any of that sort of stuff there's a whole lot of opportunity to do things nobody would know of."

Bright said most of the fish caught during the three-day tournament were released, while those that died would be sold at market for seafood and marlin jerky.

Neal Isaacs, the boat's captain, said the team knew the fish was big — but not necessarily a world record — when they saw it start jumping to free itself from the line nearly 40 minutes after it was hooked. The battle then became about whether the boat could position itself to give Palmer enough leverage to reel it in, he said.

She didn't want to give up, but the fish stayed in deep waters and eventually died on the line, drifting directly below the ship, Isaacs said.

"We pushed it, but her husband suggested we get out of the chair before she passed out," Isaacs said.

Angling is as much about math and physics as the open-water adventure. Palmer, at 160 pounds, needed to get the marlin more than six times her weight positioned higher in the water to make it easier for her to reel in her line without attracting sharks or breaking the line or any of the boat's equipment.

"It was a bad decision that stopped me more than my physical limits," she said.

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Waimea_Cowboy wrote:
I don't think the "world record" part is right, but it was still a great adventure! Imua!
on August 23,2012 | 06:18AM
covance wrote:
I think they meant women's world record....still an awesome fish!
on August 23,2012 | 07:38AM
sak wrote:
The big question missing in this news report is did the team win the tournament and the grand prize?
on August 23,2012 | 08:18AM
busterb wrote:
The whole article is about doing the right thing and the team DQ'ing itself.
on August 23,2012 | 08:47AM
myviewofthings wrote:
NO. they disqualified themselves! Hello!!!!!!
on August 23,2012 | 10:29AM
lihingmui wrote:
commendations on their integrity!
on August 23,2012 | 08:31AM
isthatright wrote:
Big marlin. At 5'9" she's almost big as the fish and looks like she tweaked her back.
on August 23,2012 | 09:07AM
amela wrote:
I'm not a tournament fisherman so what is the cheating part?
on August 23,2012 | 09:49AM
hanoz808 wrote:
using your crewmates to help you reel in
on August 23,2012 | 10:27AM
myviewofthings wrote:
they helped her reel it in. that would be the cheating part as far as tournament rules.
on August 23,2012 | 10:29AM
entrkn wrote:
Isn't it customary to mention the name of the boat in reporting fishing tales?
on August 23,2012 | 09:53AM
DPK wrote:
Why does such a magnificent animal have to die for a stupid contest?
on August 23,2012 | 07:56PM
syhud wrote:
I guess this story takes over Michelle Wie's high score in this weekend tourney she's playing in. Which is good.
on August 23,2012 | 08:25PM
Dragonman wrote:
Why the hate, this article in not about MW, this article is about a woman missing out on a world record marlin catch because she was disqualified when she received help in reeling in the fish. No one except the crew knew she had help, would have been easy to claim the world record, instead she did the right thing. Congrats to her and the crew for being honest.
on August 24,2012 | 09:41AM
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