It was three days of remarkable fishing this year at the Interclub. Remarkable in that prior to the competition the inshore waters were cold and green and the small Blacks had virtually disappeared. On top of that the usual bait grounds on the shelf on which the Striped Marlin and so many fishermen had become dependant were being scoured by a 3 knot current of up to 27 degrees, however, there were Blue Marlin, a good run of them, the competition would be wide open.
A few boats hoping upon hope tried the inshore grounds but soon found it futile and moved offshore where by Saturday nearly all the fleet was fishing and in ideal weather too.
We opened our account fairly early on Friday hooking a nice Blue Marlin on my favourite ‘Lumo’ then to add to the excitement Greg hooked onto a Spearfish which took an ‘Evil Angel’ whilst clearing the lines; we had a double hook-up. However our euphoria didn’t last long because the Speary jumped over the line with the Blue and cut it off, I’d lost one of my favourite lures, but at least we ended up with a tagged Spearfish. A little later in the day we had a double hook-up on Blacks, surprisingly in 300 fathoms, we managed to tag one after the other managed to jump to freedom.
Saturday dawned another beautiful day but the fish proved scarcer than the previous day. We did manage to find and tag a nice Blue wide offshore after a typical Blue Marlin fight. We were now, with twenty five thousand points under our belt in the running for a placing in the tournament and the excitement on board was palpable.
Sunday was another sort of day, the weather report was benign enough but the ocean had other ideas and was big, short, steep and angry. If we hadn’t been in the running for a trophy I don’t think I would have gone out, many had the same idea returning to Port early. We continued on and by the time we reached 75 fathoms were down to trolling speed which turned out to be a good move since it wasn’t long before we had a crashing strike on the ‘Evil Angel’ and a good Blue was doing its thing grey hounding to the shelf and we were struggling to keep up. Eventually and with a very wet crew we tagged the fish and after ‘high fives’ all around we were on our way again.
We had just crossed the shelf and again the ‘Evil Angel’, now on the shot-gun screamed off and when this one jumped we could see it was a good one. It took a while and we finally caught up to it and it went deep. It was then that I noticed on my AIS a tanker was bearing down on us and would pass by at a hundred metres or so in fifteen minutes. The fish was staying deep, the angler, Monte, was getting soaked and tiring with the reel at ‘sun set’ and the tanker was coming – panic mode was fast approaching. I had decided to wait as long as I could then lower the drag, speed off and hope the tanker didn’t cut us off.
I was watching the AIS for any sign of deviation when to my surprise and relief at about a mile off it did indeed start to veer off, we were now in the clear. As the tanker passed it sounded its horn, two very long blasts the meaning of which I have no idea. I like to think he saw us fighting a fish and moved aside though more likely he saw my AIS signal and thought I was in trouble.
It took about two hours but we did eventually tag that fish, a Blue of around 180 kgs. A very tired Monte had had the experience of a life time in tagging his first Marlin. Later in the day we tagged a Striped Marlin and a good sized Dolly both of which tried to eat the ‘Lumo’. We were now definitely in a winning position but my worst nightmare was coming to fruition. Because of the rough seas some of the boats had stayed inshore and the waters there had warmed up, the small Blacks were on the bite and being tagged. It wouldn’t take many caught on 10 Kg line to beat us.
We were now on tenterhooks.
As it happened and to cut a long story short we did hold on and beat our closest rival ‘Freedom’ skippered by Scott Torrington by only a few points.