Thursday, May 17, 2007

pre-fishing tournament stories- part 2

After saying goodbye to the boaters we moved back towards the bank accompanied by more marlin enthusiasm than before. Birds swarmed in frenzied feeding flocks as we approached the hidden shallow spot and we knew we would encounter the Makaira nigricans at some time. The crew kept their eyes scanning the “spread” of marlin lures ranging in distance from about 15 feet to about 150 feet behind the boat and for about an hour nothing happened. Marlin fishing can be some of the most boring fishing in the world as strikes can be few and far between. Its something you have to prepare yourself for when you decide to go after marlin. After getting sick of trolling in and out of the birds I left the bank in search of something different out in the deep. There is a 1000 fathom (6000 feet) drop off a few miles from the bank and I headed out to it hoping for a beast. Still nothing…….
Shortly after turning back towards the bank without a sign of fish out at the drop off I heard a shout behind me. “MARLIN!!”, someone screamed and I saw the dorsal fin coming up behind the closest lure. It hit it with its bill and pulled a tiny bit of line before releasing the artificial bait. JEEEEEZ!!!! After all that waiting it was gone and the angler hadn’t done anything to tease the fish back. There are many tricks that can increase the chance that you hook a marlin when it is close to your lures. I had left the wheel and with the rod in my hand I was demonstrating some of these techniques to Tony. With the rod in my hand the marlin hit the lure in a surprise return attack and was on. The reel, our smallest, filled with 1000 yards of 30 lb test line roared as the line peeled off at alarming speed. The marlin jumped shaking its head violently trying to jettison the strange fish it had bitten. As luck would have it for the smallish marlin the strange fish (our lure) did get thrown off. We had just failed two opportunities at bringing a marlin to the boat. Of course we were gonna release the fish but if ya didn’t get it to the side of the boat it didn’t count. We were frustrated, but Big John and Tony are some of the most optimistic and positive guys you could ever have as crew, and they both quickly restored morale and refueled our enthusiasm. “Let’s find another one.” Lines were back out and we were hunting again. Within 20 minutes I spotted a flock of Birds way north of the bank in a place we hadn’t seen them before. We headed over and the closer we got the more we realized how big the flock actually was. The little black fin tuna were going ballistic tearing up the surface of the water turning it into a manic blanket of white chaotic splashing.

A massive school of tiny fish was being slaughtered, and under the fish doing the slaughter you could be sure that there were much larger members of this ancient food chain. These were the fish we were looking for. We made several passes through the thickest part of the activity without any strikes. We were getting increasingly anxious because Big John had to be at work later that afternoon and it was getting late. This looked so promising, but the clock was running out of space before we had to pull in our lines. Emotions while fishing can be a funny thing and our desperate feeling of anxiety vanished as one of our rods started screaming. We hadn’t seen the fish and by the time Big John got to the rod ½ of its line had been stripped by the beast we had been eagerly searching for. The rest of the crew did an excellent job of getting the other lines in and with Big John loudly saying he was gonna lose all his line I started reversing the boat quickly back to the fish. We had to prevent this marlin from “spooling” us. Finally we slowed the stripping of line and got John fixed up with a harness which would help him fight the marlin. It had taken an incredible amount of line in such a short time and poor John had a long battle ahead of him in order to get that fish to the boat. He also had to be at work and Bingo Mania may not appreciate the fact that he wasn’t gonna be at work on time due to the marlin that was on the end of his line. For about 45 minutes John huffed and puffed and the marlin did its best to break him, but together the crew of Arawak Odyssey pulled together and managed to accomplish what we had set off that morning to do. The marlin came to the side of the boat and Tony and I grabbed the heavy leader bringing the fish to the side of the boat. Seen here:
We took the hook out, put the boat in gear while holding the marlin so as to flush some water through its gills. John wasn’t the only thing exhausted after this fight and the moving water helped revive the fish.
I finally let its rough bill go and together we all watched as the beautiful 300+ pound blue marlin swam down into the deep to fight another day.
As you can see, we were all elated:

We set out to catch a blue marlin and we had done it. We learned a great deal that day and saw how we had to change tactics and methods. We felt like we could be contenders and knew that we would.