The Black Marlin and Reel Gun Story by Ian Hannaford

The Trip

In February 2008, myself and four other Englishmen recently went on a spearing trip to Barra Mozambique with Hamerkop Spearfishing SA (John Little) http://spearfishingsa.co.za/hamerkop.htm It was a 13 day trip in total with about 9/10 days diving. We all had a great time as for four of us this was our first spearing trip outside of the UK, John was an outstanding host having brought himself, another guide, two professional chefs and a couple of local blokes to do the day to day chores. So in total there were 6 blokes to look after us 5 spearos! absolutely outstanding, no cleaning or cooking of any kind all we had to do was jump on and off the boat.  

Good Conditions

The water temp was a balmy 28C with the visibility being around 20/25 meters. (This was a totally different kettle of fish for us UK divers as were used to 3meter vis and 10/11C water temp back home.) Unfortunately there had recently been a cyclone in the area which messed the fishing up a bit, as the water temp and currents kept changing. None the less though we made the most of it shooting a few couta, green job fish, kingfish, sea pike, prodigal son and I managed to bag a 70+kg Black Marlin.

Marlin Shot

I shot the Marlin on our last day of diving fortunately. I was breathing up on the surface when I had a sudden urge to look to my left hand side, upon doing so I found I had a marlin looking straight at me doing the whole light show thing. I gave a quick flick of my fins to get closer to the fish and then whacked it (just beat my mate to the shoot), I was using a Rob Allen 120 Carbon Caranx, Reel gun with a single 18mm rubber (hell of a setup, a perfect combination of maneuverability and power, it punched straight through the fish no problem). My dive buddies Peter Reid and Steven Batten promptly started screaming Marlin, whilst I was busy trying to put some pressure on my reel and hold on for dear life.

The Unexpected

After a few minutes of being towed around with the other 2 guys hanging off my weight belt and not being able to clip a float to the gun, (we were all using 120 reel guns) I found myself watching the reel empty and the end of my dyneema line disappear off into the distance!! I 'stupidly' took it for granted that the line would be tied onto the reel! My thinking being that when you pay good money for a new gun and 50m of Dyneema you expect it to be ready for action straight out of the box. So after a milli second of me feeling sorry for myself thinking I had lost the fish of a lifetime, I switched back on and swam like a man possessed after the end of the Dyneema line. Fortunately I managed to grab hold of it and get a couple wraps of line round my hand before the 'Marlin Express' started again.  

Towed Around

After a few more minutes of water skiing I was found by the guys who had the boat and float in tow, and 50 granny knots later Steve had tied the float line on. Although to be honest I didn't trust the knots one bit, so I kept my hand wrapped firmly round the dyneema line. I didn’t fancy losing the fish a second time. (With hindsight, i don't think i would of wrapped the line round my hand. But then again, fortune favours the brave/ stupid sometimes.) So after 20/25 minutes of what can only be described as total chaos. I managed to land my first Black Marlin.

Poseidon’s Revenge

Although Poseidon did get his revenge in his own small way, and stuck a nice jellyfish right on my face as I was climbing out of the water. I managed to drag the jelly right across my face and inside my mouth somehow?! and spent the next few hours checking my teeth weren't falling out. The fish tipped the scales at 70kg but unfortunately we weighed it 5hrs after it was shot and it had to be cut in half to be weighed. So personally I am telling the girlfriend it was more like 75kg :)

Check your Reel

If any of you guys buy a Rob Allen Reel gun in the future I urge you to check the line is tied onto the reel. I know my mistake seems a schoolboy error not checking it’s tied on in the first place but its one easily made. We were all amazed that the line hadn't been tied onto the reel. I have emailed Rob and he informs me that they don't tie the line onto the reel as people would rather risk losing the fish, spear and line instead of the whole set up.

All in all though the trip was outstanding, a perfect combination of relaxation and diving. John was a great host with all his staff being top blokes and I managed to rustle up more jam than Hartley's, to land a Marlin with less than a years diving experience in my bag.

Cheers Ian