The old man & the sea-Epic Marlin Battle
Our offshore fishing trip out of Quepos Costa Rica on Saturday was a day that we will not forget for a long time! We welcomed a lovely family Robert, Diane, Kelli & John from Texas aboard the GOOD DAY & set out in search of catching a Billfish. It took only 10 minutes to catch plenty of livebait for the day should we encounter some Yellow Fin Tuna and then we set off towards the ‘Twenty Six’ where we would start the days fishing. It wasnt long before another Wahoo was hooked-up on the shotgun line but he also got off before we could make any line on him. Finally two reels screamed into life and we were into a double hookup, a really nice sized Rainbow Runner had taken one bait and a Jack Cravelle was on the other line - great to get some fish to the boat!
It was 3.05pm and with more than an hour run back to the Marina ahead of us we were just getting ready to call ‘lines out’ when the dorsal fin of a Marlin broke the surface behind our right short lure. The fish made 2-3 attempts at the lure & was visable for 10-15 seconds but he just followed and did not want to eat it despite our attempts to get him excited. He dissapeared from sight & all eyes remained fixed on the spread for the minutes that followed but there was no sign of the fish and we could only assume that he had moved away. Perhaps 3 minutes later a fish hit a ballyhoo on our shotgun line, the hookup went perfectly and right before our eyes a Black Marlin came crashing out of the water several times as line peeled off the reel.
Kelli grabbed the rod & was straight into the chair to commence battle with the biggest fish of her life. The fish took lots of line and went deep as Black Marlin so often do, using those big Pectoral fins to keep them down but Kelli did an excellent job of getting line back & had the fish fairly close to the boat before deciding to pass the rod over to step-father Robert whose dream it was to catch a Marlin.
Robert is a 73 year lifelong Largemouth Bass Fisherman and it was an awesome sight to see him in the chair hooked up to his dream fish, a stunning Black Marlin. Robert worked the fish well and within the first 15 minutes we caught sight of the leader for the first time and mate Michael Ponce had a good hold on the leader with the fish visable below the surface. Under tournament rules, this is now considered a caught fish but of course we wanted a nice photo for Robert leaning over to hold the bill and so that we could have a closer look to better estimate the weight. The fish had other ideas though and upon sight of the boat headed straight back down to the depths and we could do nothing but watch the leader slip from our hands as the reel emptied again. We were only 20 minutes into the fight at this stage not really knowing what lay before us and we watched Robert in amazement, using all his years of fishing experience to expertly fight the fish as a true tug of war ensued before us. Before we knew it, the first hour of the battle came and passed and it was here than we discussed Hemingway’s classic ‘The Old Man & the Sea’, the tale of a poor fisherman Santiago who fought a huge Marlin day and night with his bare hands & the resolve that only one would die in the battle, he or the fish but that he would not give up until either had happened. Robert reminded us of Santiago, sweat beads on his brow but not a whisper of negativity as his hands shook from the pressure of the fish when many a younger & stronger man would have already passed the rod to another out of exhaustion. 1 hour 30 mins passed with the fish still holding deep and relentlessly undoing the progress made by Robert as it continued time and time again to empty the spool. The family were in full support of the battle, Diane & Kelli expertly pointing the fighting chair at the fish and John was on hand to keep pouring ice cold water over Robert to everyones amusement.
The sun was now low in the sky and Captain Manuel Gabuardi gave the signal that something had to happen soon, we had another 30 minutes to fight the fish before we would lose daylight which would not make for a safe run back to the Marina. There is a lot of trees, branches etc in the water right now due to the recent rains, not something we would like to encounter head-on in the darkness!
We slowly increased the drag pressue and Robert made every effort to gain line on the Marlin, fighting him like a pro and we all knew the light 30lb line on a Sailfish setup was being worked to its limit by a fish that could be 10 times its weight.
It was 5.15pm and 2 hours, 10 minutes into the fishing battle of his life, line was being gained on the fish by Robert inch by inch and when the Marlin was perhaps 50 feet from the boat the rod sprang back suddenly as the line finally parted and the fish was gone forever! We were all incredibly dissapointed but there was not a foul word in sight. I have never witnessed such a humble response from an Angler losing a big fish…....
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