Ascension Marlin Hunt - Titus

Planning

Well, after a great trip that you have already read the reports on, I stayed on for a few more days to hunt a marlin.  Gerry had lost one a few days previously and we had thought long and hard about what to do differently.  I was fairly sure that my rig of 30m riffe bungee to 11l hard rob allen to 11l inflatable rob allen to 35l rob allen all connected by bungees would allow the shock of that 35l float to be reduced.

I was also confident that the much more powerful 4 banded riffe bluewater and ice pick slip tip were up to the job.  The German crew helped me upgrade this even further with stronger connections.  The weakest point in the whole rig was now rated at 1000 pounds. The shooting line was cable, not mono or dynema. 

The Hunt 

With this set up we set to trolling up and down way offshore.  Three teasers were deployed.  One at 30m on my right, one at 20m on my left and one at 10m in the centre.  Two further teasers are rapidly pulled in when a marlin is spotted to keep them moving as the boat goes into neutral.  The 3rd and biggest teaser has a bottle float about 1m above it and the retreating teasers lead the fish directly to this.  This is what I had to head for to intercept.

It was four days of very slow going; no marlin contacts. A few dorado and tunas appeared to take a look at the lures but we weren’t after them this time.  Sitting for 8 hours a day in full kit with a loaded gun is pretty tiring but not as bad as you might think.  The gun rubbers started to perish at an alarming rate due to the constant loaded state and the equatorial sun.

Practice makes Perfect 

We did a couple of practice drops so the crew and I could get used to dropping from the moving boat without dislodging slip tip etc. by day 5 we were pretty slick at this which is just as well.  At 1305 on 28th Feb. I was sat, as usual, on the port side of the boat as it trolled the crystal blue offshore waters. I was relaxed as it is possible to be, sat in such a way with mask fins wetsuit on and a massive loaded gun resting on my lap.  The monotony was shattered by the skipper; 'BLUEMARLIN ON MY TEASER!!' followed by pandemonium.  I threw the sun cover off the gun and swung one leg over the side waiting for the all clear (wouldn’t do to end up in the prop with all the excitement!).  Even from my position I could see the fin and bill of something very large and very blue cutting a wake towards the 30m teaser. 'GO! GO! JUMP!'

The First Encounter 

I jumped. As usual everything held together, the neat little rubber band tying the sliptip to the gun itself worked a treat. All I could see were bubbles. As usual the boat wake was about 2m deep with white fizz. I made my way to the 10m teaser to await the arrival of the fish. I guess he had been and gone from there, buzzing back and forth in the wake, he and I invisible to each other. The crew were screaming 'behind you!!!!' I swung round- just bubbles. 'behind you!!!!!!!!' obviously it was moving about rapidly- it crossed my mind that if the fish bumped into me with his bill in the bubbles it would... sting a bit to say the least!

Following the air traffic control style directions of the crew I moved after the fish, and then I saw something. A vast crescent cutting across the wake; the fishes tail.  He saw me too I guess as next thing through the dissipating wake I saw him fully- starting with a vast blue bill, mean eyes and a huge mouth leading on to an impossibly huge body. I angled towards him, gently diving. He turned side on and what a sight this was- 700 pound blue marlin.  I was in range. I fired. I didn’t even feel the recoil.  The spear slammed home just behind the gillplate.  It looked like a fantastic shot- even a kill shot- but no, the beast took off.  'I've done it!!!' flashed through my head as I surfaced- to pandemonium. My floats broke off the transom where they were tied with 30lb line and literally flew 20ft through the air. A storm of white water as the fish pulled one, two, three floats under in a matter of seconds.

Gone 

Then they were coming back up to the surface. What has happened? Is he dead?... or gone...? Unsure of what was happening but increasingly worried I started pulling the line. Nowhere near enough resistance... but I did not accept it was gone until I saw the spear itself, fishless. Outraged I boarded the boat to examine the gear. How the hell had this just happened? It was shot perfectly.  Maybe the slip tip had not toggled.  That was the only option I could think of.  It can’t have deployed. I changed to a new spear and tip, blaming the slip tip for this loss.  Much later back on land, close inspection showed the truth, which was worse by a long way.  The tip had gone right in.  It had toggled probably 40cm inside the fish. And been subjected to such vast force that it had literally pulled through the fish. How is this even possible? I still can’t believe it but the evidence is there on the tip- fragments of marlin, and the 1800 lb wire loops at the crimps have been stretched perfectly straight by enormous, impossible force. The fish is dead. No way it could survive that. But at the time I didn’t know this and just assumed tip failure and changed. But seriously, this fish was shot in a great place (for any other fish) but it has so much power it could do this.

Off we went again. I figured my marlin hunt was over but hoped a sailie would show as a consolation prize.  We had seen a few the day before.
 The second Encounter
At 1600 it was like dejavu- 'BLUEMARLIN ON MY TEASER!!!!!!'

In I went again. Confident of my new tip and spear.  I headed to teaser 3 and sure enough there he was looking at it; a 500 pound blue marlin. Black this time. Again I fired and I hit him.  A great hit again.  This time he went round in an arc and I could see very clearly that it was an excellent holding shot, the tip had deployed and it looked very secure.

Not as big as fish 1 but huge anyway.  The floats went to warp speed and I got picked up.  What was the point of chasing them for miles when I had chartered a marlin boat to follow them!  Sure this messes up a world record claim but at the time I was just interested in getting my damn marlin.

Gone Again 

We chased the floats for several miles. This is like nothing I have ever seen, the speed and power. Then he really turns his will against us, dives deep. The floats don’t even slow him. And it happens again. Like a bad dream. He’s gone.

Analysis again shows everything ok. Bottom line- this fish can produce enough shock from a 35l end float to literally pull a slip tip or a conventional spear like Gerry's through its body the hard way.  The Germans tell me they have soft meat.

 Thoughts

So 2 shot in one day and 2 lost. My opinion is that you cannot shoot this fish (this size) in the body. It must be shot in the gill plate or head. That’s just my opinion based on these observations.

What would I change- just the floats basically. I’d put a 3rd 11l float then another 30m bungee and then the 35l. But the bottom line is shoot it in the head.

If I ever shoot a marlin again (not sure I want to after writing off 2) I will only shoot it in the head. No body shots however good they appear can hold it.

So I join the small section of divers who have lost a marlin... we all know the pain!!!!

The crew were fantastic, top rate. But they asked me to let you know they will not be taking spearfishermen out, so don’t bother them please.  It makes sense. Do a few of these charters and you have a lot of dead marlin, and they are into catch and release which is great. But they had a lot of fun with this and said they would take me again next year if I wanted but I’ll have to think hard about that…..

Cheers
Titus