When the line suddenly sank an hour into his battle to land his first marlin, Rotorua's Colin Markov's heart dropped.
But all was not lost.
The fish was dead but not gone, and thanks to the skill and knowledge of skipper Doug Stewart and a massive two-and-a-half hour-long effort in a 3m swell by the four-person crew, the beast was landed.
On Friday night Markov's blue marlin was weighed in at 350.2kg at the Tauranga Sport Fishing Club.
It was just 23.1kg shy of the club's men's blue marlin 37kg line weight record that has stood since 1972.
Markov said it was an "unreal" experience - and only his second ever time playing a marlin.
His first strike - the fish got off just as they got it to the boat - was just three weeks ago on board the 16.8m (55 foot) Ocean Monarch, skippered by his girlfriend's dad, Stewart.
They headed out again this weekend for the club's All About Construction Game On Tournament.
Stewart said they left at 5am on Friday and motored east out to the back of White Island to start trawling. It was Markov's turn in the seat when the line went off about 1.20pm.
"I just buckled in and held on for the ride."
He played the fish for an hour, getting it to within 150m of the boat when the line dropped.
Markov was worried he had lost it but Stewart, who said he had seen more than 100 marlin catches in 22 years of recreational game fishing, recognised the signs that the fish had died.
For the next couple of hours they painstakingly manoeuvred the boat back and forth so Markov could take in the line and draw the marlin in.
Markov said they did not know how big the fish was until they got it to the boat and pulled in the "massive" head.
"It just kept coming and coming."
It took all four of them to haul it aboard before they could begin the long motor back to Tauranga.
Stewart said the marlin was now "in the smoker" to be divided among friends and family.
It was Ocean Monarch's second marlin of the summer and the biggest he had seen caught.
"It's a once in a lifetime fish."