A Tale of Two Marlin at Sodwana
While up in Zululand one recent weekend, I went for a morning launch on the Sunday, the aim being a quick dive to get a fish for a planned fish braai later. I also took the family along for the ride. There were 8 of us in the boat – myself, my wife, our 2 little girls aged 4 and 6, my sister, brother in-law, a dive buddy and his girlfriend. Needless to say it was pretty crowded – but as can be seen from the events that followed, nothing was going to stand in the way of my luck that day!
On the way to a dive spot, I let out a lure hoping to pick up a braai fish. Instead, I picked up a Marlin.
The rod and tackle were light with 12kg line, making the fight interesting. After a couple of hours, we had the fish alongside. Despite all efforts to release it, the fight had exhausted it and it was done. With mixed feelings we loaded it aboard. My sister, who is a real greenie, made me promise right there and then never to catch another one… I sort of agreed.
Anyway, our job was not done - we still needed a fish for the braai (the Marlin was a little big for that).
So, with one Marlin on board an already overcrowded rubber duck, I jumped into 40 meters of water to find a fish.
I had only been in the water for a few minutes when I picked up some movement of bait fish swirling about below. I took a dive down to about 15 meters to check it out and hovered among the bait fish when suddenly a Marlin buzzed past. It was in full attack mode with all its lights on and balling the bait – what a magnificent sight! I seem to recall other shapes flashing around (perhaps other Marlin?) and while trying to focus on the scene the Marlin suddenly came within chasing range. I dropped alongside it and when it turned broadside (knowing full well I was about to break a recently made promise to my sister) I managed to put in a good shot. The moment was simply too big!
I put the spear into that area pretty much where the gill slit ends on the top side – not exactly the kill shot but I knew that a big fish does not fight too long when its gills are compromised. It is also a part of the fish where a spear seldom pulls out. As the spear hit, the Marlin gave a shudder and there was a puff of greenish red blood. I knew instinctively that I had this fish. It did not speed off in a full out bid for escape but sort of kicked down a gear and began a steady tow.
I never once let my bouy go, one of those old plastic lifesaving ones with handles. I did not want to let the fish get any additional depth on me, keeping it where it was in about 15 meters. It swam in a big arc pulling steadily, and once I had got my self together I called the boat alongside and instructed my buddy, Pete, to place a second spear (knowing that the Marlin would eventually die from the gill shot and there was no point in delaying the inevitable).
Once a second shot was placed I pulled myself down the line to the fish and wrapped my arms around its body under its “armpits” (pecs) in a sort of bear hug. It was still very alive and shook around a bit. I effectively twisted its body into a vertical position and coaxed it into swimming to the surface. Once on top, Pete put in a good bear hug of his own around its lower body. The Marlin thrashed us both around for what seemed like a long time, but it must have been no more than a few minutes. All in all it took about 10 minutes to subdue from placing the spear.
One morning, two Marlins; one caught; one speared. Both a first for me! The caught Marlin was a stripey and the speared one a Black Marlin, both weighing in at approximately 70kg. It was an incredible experience and having my family along to witness my achievement was awesome – my daughters now think their Dad is a really cool “Marlin Man”!
We never did get the braai fish and had to settle for Marlin steaks instead. Luckily, Marlin is delicious – a good thing, as we’re probably going to be eating it for a long time to come!