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Last Minute Marlin

It was that time of year again. After months of preparation and anticipation we headed off for 2 weeks of diving and fishing in the (supposedly) crystal clear waters off Mozambique.

“Of course no one believed me until they saw the fish swimming on the surface with my float in tow.”

We arrived at Sera Lodge, near Chidinguele, late in the morning and immediately started preparing all our gear. There were 4 of us: 1 spearo (me), my buddy Eric (who was keen to start spearing) and 2 fishermen, Ronald and Mike. All of us were ready for some action.

The next morning we were at the launch site at 4:45am, welcomed by a gentle surf and smooth seas. Everything went well and we arrived on the reef after a 30 minute boat ride and immediately put a few lines out. It wasn’t longer than 5 minutes before 2 reels started screaming and we had some Yellowfin in the hatch.

I got very excited, pulled my dive gear out and kitted up. I bailed into the ocean just as we went over a small pinnacle, only to be disappointed by some seriously green water, with maybe 4m viz. I thought what the hell, unrolled my flasher and did a couple dives down on the hotspots. After an hour and a half without seeing as much as a baitfish, I decided to get out and join the others fishing. The next few days followed the same basic pattern, and after only seeing a small fish here and there I decided to give up spearing until conditions improved.

After 4 days of foul weather and 30 knot South Westerlies, it was our 2nd last day of the trip. Not being too hopeful, we headed to a spot far out where I have had success before. To our amazement, the viz was 25m plus! Without even bothering to fish first, I kitted up and scouted the reef for a good finding on the Lowrance. I was not disappointed and found a massive shoal of probably 500 to 1000 Bigeye Kingies in the 2 to 3kg range. First dive, I went through them and spotted some nice Sea Pike below. I gave chase and managed to put a spear in a decent sized one. By this time Eric had also jumped in and managed to load a gun. As I pulled the Pike up, some inquisitive Cuta followed and Eric managed to bomb dive them and spear his first Cuta, stoning it!

The action continued for the next 2 hours, but with the super clean water, it was really hard to get within range of the fish. So many shots were missed, and a couple of Cuta we shot without stoning were pounced on by the ever present Zambi’s. (I noticed the shark shield is of no use helping you land fish unless you have the fish right at your fins!) After a few more drifts and swallowing copious amounts of salt water, I was feeling a bit green and decided on one last drift. We saw some dart Cuta come in on the flasher but couldn’t get a shot in. It went dead quiet after that, and being off the reef already, I wanted one more dive on my flasher, to see if there was anything in the depths, before calling it a day.

I had a look around and saw nothing below, but as I started surfacing I looked up at the flasher, to see a huge Marlin lit up like a Christmas tree charge in and attack my flasher with his bill!

I could not believe what was happening. I was thinking to myself, ‘if I take a shot at it, I better hit the spine or else my gun and float are gone.’ Next thing, I saw the Marlin make a sharp turn and almost stop broadside before me, and before I could fathom what to do next the Freedivers 1,3m had already fi red! My heart stopped for a second as I wondered if I had stoned him. Then in a very relaxed manner he started swimming straight out to sea, turned North, went to the surface and thrashed his bill around a bit. I surfaced and screamed ‘Striped Marlin!’ Of course no one believed me until they saw the fish swimming on

the surface with my float in tow. The Marlin had pulled the float out of my hands but luckily it got tangled with the flasher as well as Eric’s float line, so I grabbed his gun from him and began the chase. After only 5 minutes, I had him in sight and was getting ready for a second shot. I think it was about then that the Marlin realised he had been shot and took off straight out to sea with me in tow. I managed to clip the other gun onto my float, so at least had 70m of rope between the fish and the last float. The beast carried on towing me for another hour or so at a constant speed of about 3 knots, with the boat following right behind me. After that the fish went straight down to the bottom, to 60m (luckily he couldn’t go deeper!) and wouldn’t give me an inch for another 20 minutes, when I slowly started pulling him up. When I had him in about 15m, I gathered my energy and dived down to put in another spear. After the fish had died, the glowing neon stripes I had seen disappeared, and realised that it was not a Stripey – but a Blue Marlin.

After a couple of photos and a huge struggle, we scrummed the fish onto the back of the boat and started heading in. The boat struggled to get on the plane, so I had to make sure we stayed on until we hit the beach.

“That night we ate delicious Blue Marlin sosaties complemented by copious amounts of Captain Morgan to celebrate the fish of a lifetime!”

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