I lept from my seat on the leather lined floors of the beautiful 47 viking when I saw the rod buckle. We had been trolling along in all day and nearly everyone on the boat had about given up for the day. I was getting tired of watching as well, and had finally just sat down. I raced out the cabin door, and beat even the well-seasoned mates that were watching from their perches near the captain’s helm to the fighting chair.
When a large rods bends in half you have to act fast. The mates flew down the ladder and strapped me in. With my heart racing, I cranked the tiagra 80-w tight until it stopped. There was something big on the other end of the line. Something REAL big. Bigger than the many bass, pike, walleye, amberjacks and even sailfish I had caught in the past. This was the first fish I felt pulling that was bigger than ME.
As the beautiful blue billfish breached the surface of the sea, I took a breath and braced for the battle. I tried to contain my excitement as my sleepy shipmates rose from their seats to see what was happening. Seeing such an incredible wild animal leave the water leaves nearly anyone in awe.
After a slow day catching a single mahi, we had finally hit the jackpot. We were into a big boy. A big blue Santiago inspired dream that I had waited a long time for. This is the experience that gives anglers chills, and a great answer to the “what’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught” question.
Our mate coached me as my shipmates chided me asking if I was ready (I definitely was). There’s something incredible about feeling a beast larger than you pull back against the line, and the magical sound of line screaming off a drag is what will always keep me coming back for more.
As the clicking drag slowed to a hault, I knew it was my turn to crank on the reel. I could feel the beast shake his head and turn me in my chair as he swam in another direction. As my goosebumps started to subside, I remembered to take a breath, and began hearing the mate coach me through the process. I pumped my feet to the chair for leverage and cranked down as he level-winded on the rod. Always listen to fisherman who are trying to help – you’ll become a much better fisherman if you learn something every trip.
I will continue to crave the epic multi-hour battles that are often associated with big marlin. My marlin decided to come swimming up to the boat after a mere 20 minutes. With adrenaline fiercly pumping, even this fight felt intense, and gave me a true appreciation for 5 hour battles that end with heartbreaking losses.
I can definitely understand why billfish purists practice catch and release. Marlin are a majestic and amazing creature. Unlike other wild animals, you really have to catch them to see them. It’s good to see most the ban on collecting most billfish in the US. In Hawaii, however, marlin are still harvested with a bangstick and sold to eat. With the price of fuel, I can relate as a charter operator. The extra money helps. As an angler – I would have loved to watch this great fish swim away.
The marlin was brought to the boat, and the fight was over. Unlike Santiago’s great catch – this fish would be eaten by people and not sharks.
I would like to extend a big thanks to the crew of the Mahea’B for giving me this wonderful opportunity. Tight lines fellas!