The Marlin the Got Away
Hi Folks, After a terrible start to the year's trolling my buddy and I went bottom fishing south of Koh Larn. I had found a dinner table, a 60-metre round reef that is 10 metres deep in an area of some 17 to 20 metres, about two kilometres due south of Koh Larn. I had picked up a couple of live bait fish (bpla si deang) on the way down and then I anchored in the middle of the reef, which is quite flat. That way which ever the wind wave or currents pushed the boat the live bait would be close to an edge of the reef.
I put a three hook wire trace on to the live bait, next was a small 10-gram lead weight and a small float. I then let out some 10 metres of line and put a small rubber band on to the line to stop the float. I did this so my rig could float away a bit from the my fishing buddy's live bait which was straight down.
Whilst we waited for some action on the live baits we fished straight down for the usual bottom dwellers. This time all we caught were small brown and black striped groupers (blpa grapow) and nothing else, which is unusual. About 30 minutes later another small boat with four Thais on board dropped their anchor some 20 metres away from us.
Suddenly I noticed my float going towards the other boat, so I grab the rod and was about to loosen the drag as I thought one of the Thais had snagged my line, when I saw nobody on the other boat reeling in. So I leaned the rod back and almost immediately a marlin broke the surface and got halfway out of the water. Shock at such a big fish so close to the boat turned into horror as I discovered a problem with the multiplier reel. My line had taken a turn around the bottom of the level wind, making the drag and retrieving line difficult. I used the six to 15 lb ugly stick to absorb the strength of the fish. However the fish did not run, he started to cruise around the boat some five times and I was able to wind slowly in. By holding on to the line above the reel I created a little slack line and I freed the snagged line. Frank said that the fish looked like 15 kgs. I said no way, maybe seven kgs, as he did not feel powerful or that heavy.
I handed my camera to Frank, and he took as many shots as he could. In the sun the camera screen did not show anything. That was due to me not switching the camera on in the heat of the moment! So no photographs.
The fish broke the surface again, only a quarter of him showed and he continued to circle the boat. Frank and I spoke about keeping it or letting it go. We were both a bit worried at having a billed six-foot plus fish in a 15-foot boat. All too soon the fish came alongside the boat and he looked way bigger than I thought, all played out. Frank got the big net and it proved way too small (I have had an eight-kg cobia in the net before). In the end all the talk of what to do with the fish did not matter, Frank, in trying to net the fish, caught the wire trace and that freed the hook. I have a image in my memory of the huge head along side the boat, a black eye looking straight towards me.
I was still in shock for a while, as that is the first marlin I have ever seen, never mind caught. I was surprised at the poor fight, no electric runs (just as well with my line round the level guide), no powerful dives. To be honest I have had more fun with a 5 kg spanish mackerel. On 20 braid line, a six to 15lb rod, no weight to speak of, that fish had every chance to strut his stuff. Maybe the fish was weak or sick I will never know. An Aussie later told that when the fish are eating stonefish the toxin makes them subdued.
I have been speaking to the local skippers who run charter boats out from Bali Hai and they said the small bottom fish were hard to catch. The local gossip from the expats here is the Thais have trawled all the fish out. I hope that is true rather something more permanent like water temperature increasing. Maybe it is an explosion of algae who knows?
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