World’s greatest fishing spot

May 2nd
Posted by shambo  as Business, fishing, Travel

Largest Black Marlin ever caught

Let me say this about that.

I was exhausted.¬† I had been sent to Melbourne, Australia to turnaround a struggling electronics factory owned by my employer.¬† In those days the Australian labor laws allowed each employee¬†one month’s vacation,¬†one month’s sick leave, and nearly a month’s worth of holidays.¬† In addition, once per month an employee could just wake up in the¬†morning and call-in that he wasn’t coming¬†to work¬†- for no particular reason.¬† The place had the productivity of the U.S. Postal Service on a holiday.

If that wasn’t enough, an off-track betting establishment, a hundred yards down the street,¬†had the ingenious idea of of¬†incorporating a restaurant on their premises¬†.¬† At lunch time, the factory employees would walk down to the restaurant, eat their ‘bangers and mash’ for lunch and bet the horses for two hours.

After a couple of months, I had seen enough and shut the place down.  Four hundred and fifty-two people out of work Рbut they made their bed and had no interest in improving.

After it was all over, I called my wife and told her I was taking a week off and asked her to join me for a short vacation in…¬†¬†¬† Cairns in northern Queensland province.¬† Cairns is a small village famous as the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.¬† I have always been a die-hard deep-sea fishing enthusiast and was looking forward to fulfilling my lifelong dream of fishing the Great Barrier Reef.

Great Barrier Reef

I chartered a boat and crew and by 8:00am¬†the following morning we were walking down the dock to begin our great adventure.¬† As we approached our boat, a 43′ sportfisherman, I noticed another boat, docked a few spaces over¬†with a metalic looking object sticking a few feet¬†out of¬†it’s hull, and just above the waterline.¬† It looked like a piece of rebar steel used to reinforce concrete.¬† I asked our captain about it and he told me the following story.

“The captain of that boat is a friend of mine.¬† Two days ago, he was out fishing for black marlin with his charter and hooked into a¬†‘Grander’ – lucky the fish didn’t sink the boat.”

Black marlin are the largest species of the marlin family.¬† They are huge.¬† The world’s record for a black marlin caught on a rod and reel is a 16 foot long¬†behemoth that weighed¬†1,560 pounds (a full grown horse weighs only half as much)!!¬†¬† I learned that a “Grander” is any black marlin weighing over 1,000 pounds.

“Seems they fought the fish for over eight hours before the¬†animal¬†got tired of the game and attacked the boat.¬† The marlin hit the boat with such force, it broke his bill off in the hull.”

As I was staring¬†at the damaged boat I had my epiphany:¬† we are going to be hunting a beast five times my size and powerful enough to sink a 43′ fiberglass boat.¬† Who, I pondered silently, was going to be hunting who.¬† Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

By 8:30am, we were underway and heading out into the Pacific.  The Great Barrier Reef is about thirty-five miles offshore from the Queensland coast, so it took nearly two hours to reach it in our diesel powered sportsfisherman.  The ride out to the reef is through placid waters about a hundred feet deep and full of all manner of sea life.  Once we approached the inside edge of the reef itself, the water becomes progressively shallower until it is only a few feet deep at the top of the reef .  The captain had to exercise care to maneuver the boat through an opening in the reef deep enough to allow our boat through to open water without running aground.

Once through the reef, the Pacific plunges from knee-deep water down to the bottomless abyss.  Within one hundred yards of crossing the reef, the boats depth-finder maxed out at 2,000 feet.  Another hundred yards and the captain instructed the mate to set out the baits.

The mate¬†brought out¬†a fishing¬†rod roughly¬†the size of a Tennessee pine sapling upon which he attached a reel only slightly¬†smaller than a five-gallon bucket.¬† Loaded onto the reel was a full mile of nylon braided, 180-pound test line.¬† Next, he reached into the bait container and produced a two-foot long mackerel weighing seven pounds – as bait!!¬† I was wondering what the¬†‘bait’ might look like as a trophy mounted¬†on my den wall as the mate inserted a hook into the mackerel’s head the size of a horse shoe,¬†threw it into the ocean and let out a few hundred yards of line.¬† We were ready!

Over the next five hours, we raised a couple of marlin in the 200 pound to 300 pound class, but boated none of them.  We were successful in catching a few other billfish, the smallest being a 90 pound Pacific Sailfish, which spent more time in the air than in the water during the fight.  Around 4:00pm in the afternoon, the captain announced that we would fish another 15 minutes before edging back through the narrow pass of the reef and making the 2 hour trek back to Cairns.

I wasn’t really paying attention when it attacked, so a little of my ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ reaction could be forgiven.¬† I actually heard it first – a thousand pound object¬†lunging out of the water makes a helluva racket.¬† As I turned, I saw the marlin, with about a third of it’s massive hulk completely out of the water, attacking the mackerel with it’s¬†four foot long bill.¬† The mackerel was knocked thirty feet to one side of the boat and the marlin hit the water with the force of a school bus dropped off a ten story building.

“It’s a Grander!!!”

I had never seen an animal that large in the wild.¬† I had never seen an animal that large – really pissed-off.¬† My job now was basically to do battle with this ‘boat-killer’ with what essentially amounted to¬†a stick and a ball of twine.

The captain screamed for me to get into the fighting chair and strap-in.  The submarine-sized animal was turning and coming for the bait as I jumped into the fighting chair and found that my hands were made-up entirely of thumbs.  The mate had to buckle the leather restraining straps for me as the beast swallowed the bait and dove.

The captain waited until a couple of hundred more yards of line peeled off the reel and instructed the mate to engage the ‘brake’.¬† The reel brake prevented the fish from removing any more line as the captain gunned the engines forward.¬† It took the power of both the boats diesel engines to ‘set’ the hook.¬† For a second, I felt a little silly thinking I could set the hook in a 1,000 pound fish as I might with a¬†brook trout.

When the hook dug into the marlin’s flesh, the fish went berserk.

The mate released the brake and the big marlin quickly reeled-off a quarter of a mile of line Рstraight down.  My second epiphany of the day occurred when I realized that I was expected to pull a live animal the size of a Toyota Tacoma, a quarter mile back to the boat Рagainst his will.

The mate was pouring water on the reel to prevent the heat from¬†seizing the bearings as the fish continued to rip line from the reel.¬† I was in it – the epic battle of man against beast that every man fantasizes about.¬† The animal was in a struggle for his life.¬† I kept thinking about the boat that had been attacked.¬† The scream¬†of the line coming off the reel¬†¬†was deafening.¬† Then ….. ¬†all went quiet.

I’ll never know what actually happened.¬† The captain surmised that the fish was powerful enough to simply straighten the hook and swim away.¬† I really had no regrets.¬† I was over-matched from the beginning.

If you have a love of fishing, and you have a ‘Bucket List’, a trip to the world’s greatest fishing spot belongs in it.¬† Good ‘hunting’.

And, that’s all I have to say about that.

Shambo

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4 Comments

  1. Home repair contractor Savannah  21st August 2014  

    What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious knowledge regarding unpredicted emotions.

  2. James  17th May 2013  

    An excellent fish is the immense black marlin whose golfball-size blue eyes stare down from its simulated “waters” over the doors of the executive conference room of the National Museum of Natural History. At 1,560 pounds, it is officially recognized as the largest bony fish ever caught on rod and reel, a record that has stood since August 1953, when donor Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., caught the 14-foot-7-inch female eight miles off the steep shoreline of Cabo Blanco, Peru, where the Andes plunge into the Pacific. Glassell chose this fishing ground because that’s where the cold Humboldt Current meets upwelling eddies of marine life. More than 30 large females were hooked in the area at that time. Your is not the largest. =)

  3. shambo  3rd May 2010  

    Well Phoebe, the quote … “all went quiet” … perhaps was not technically correct. I must admit I did express an opinion on the matter that contained a few words of dubious origin.
    Shambo

  4. Phoebe  3rd May 2010  

    WOW, what an experience, one I’m sure you will never forget. Thank God “I” wasn’t on the boat. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!!

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