TRAVERSE CITY — Robert Steffens will have to remember the trophy fish he caught last month in Hawaii through memories and pictures.
Taking it to a taxidermist and then hanging it on the wall at his house wasn’t an option. For one thing, it wouldn’t fit.
Vacationing in Hawaii with his wife, Marianne, Steffens landed a 1,200-pound blue marlin on a charter trip on the seventh of the eight days he spent on the islands.
The marlin took more than two hours to land as Steffens battled it for 45 minutes before it dove 2,000 feet down into the ocean and died. It then took another hour and a half to reel it up from deep in the water.
“It was tiring. It was a very surreal experience. I’m sure there are more people who have won the Hawaii state lottery than have caught a fish that big,” said Steffens. “It was very surreal waking up the next morning and thinking, ‘did that all really happen?’ You don’t dream of catching a fish that big. It doesn’t cross your mind. At least it has never crossed mine.”
Steffens said he was exhausted after the lengthy battle with the fish, which was so big that it could not be brought aboard the 51-foot Cabo. Dave Unger, the captain of Nasty Habit, and Kai Hoover, the boat’s deck hand, had to tie dock lines to the fish and tow it to shore. Steffens likened the battle to playing every shift of a hockey game for more than two hours.
“The reeling in part was as much physical exertion as I’ve put out in a long time and I’m not a sedentary person,” said Steffens, who lives on Old Mission Peninsula and boats regularly out of Bowers Harbor Marina. “I think after about 15 minutes you sweat all your sun screen off. It was a monumental battle. The half hour of give and take is one thing, then to reel it up from the depths was the other thing. Both were extremely tiring. After about two hours, or two hours and 15 minutes, we had it behind the boat and I went inside and sat in the air conditioning because that was all I could do. By the time we got back to the dock and had it weighed and I got back to the hotel, it was probably 5 o’clock, and I went to bed at 8:20 that night. I don’t go to bed at 8:20 if I have the flu. I was absolutely spent.”