I managed to catch a blue marlin on my second day aboard Impi. I had hooked one the previous day and it was lost close to the boat after an exhausting battle. The marlin I succeeded in landing was a very obliging fish and did not put me through the torment of the previous day. It struck the trolling lure on the far right and the reel was steadily paying out line against the drag as the rod was handed to me. It was then a matter of finding my way to the chair and clipping the reel on left and right and placing the but of the rod into the rest.

Thankfully this fish had taken the trolling lure on the heavier test rod which was designed with large fish in mind. The drag was set at around 24 pounds but the fish was quite capable of taking line against this kind of resistance. As soon as I was settled into the fighting seat I looked to see the fish in the distance. I was well aware that there was no guarantee that the fish would be landed and the feeling of dispondency which followed the loss of the previous day had not entirely dissipated. I wanted to be able to see everything there was to see in the event that the fish was lost.

But there it was. The marlin was some distance behind the boat, shaking and shuddering, cutting through the waves. The first few moments after a fish is hooked are crucial. Everyone is busy. Johan reeled in the other rigs and stowed the gear safely while advising me on what to do. Up above at the wheel Mark put Impi into reverse. These guys have been here many times before and any success I was going to have was entirely down to them. As I grappled with the fish I was scarcely aware of any of this.

The marlin was smaller than the one hooked the previous day which Johan has estimated at 250 pounds. Both Johan and Mark figured that the fish we landed would have weighed around 150 pounds. In truth this is a small marlin for these waters where they grow to enormous sizes but it was, by a huge margin, the biggest fish that I have ever caught. 

Between the hooking and release only about 14 minutes elapsed. When it was close to the boat Johan pulled on the leader with gloved hands and Mark popped down from the flybridge to tether the fish using a noose around the marlin´s bill. This made it possible for the fish to be unhooked and briefly admired before again being released.

When the fish was secured Johan invited me to reach down and to touch it. It really was a hell of a fish.

After it had been released I was told that the fish had been very lightly hooked and that we were lucky to land it. I had remembered to keep constant pressure on the fish during the fight and hopefully that might have contributed to my good fortune.

There is no question that luck is involved in fishing. To have hooked marlin on consecutive days was some going. But ultimately success requires more than good fortune. I was well aware that I was on an exceptional boat with exceptional people and I am indebted to Johan and Mark who rigged up the equipment and found the fish. They caught the marlin in all reality as much as I did, probably more.

A little more than a week has passed since those events but, back home again, I find myself thinking about them all the time. I walked the dogs around the campo this morning before the heat of the day kicked in. While they were sniffing and trotting from one side of the dusty track to another I was nowhere near them. I was still on the boat!

The two blue marlin of last week have both somehow coalesced in my imagination. I think of both fish together even though they were hooked on different days and one was landed and the other was not. The first taught me of the raw power of these fish. That fish battered me physically. The second, having been more closely examined at the stern of the boat, revealed the extraordinary vitality and colour and beauty of this elegant open ocean predator. There is no zoo you can visit that has a wild animal like this that you can admire. You have it there for a few moments before it is cast off again and disappears into the vast ocean to resume its nomadic life. It really is something to experience.

Johan has caught heaps of marlin over the years and has been on this and other boats to witness the capture of many others. He tells me he can remember every single one and the circumstances of their capture in every detail. I believe him. He also assures me that nobody forgets their first marlin. 

How could they?

Some fish!
Here the marlin is secured by the bill.
Mark is holding the fish here while Johan removes the hook.
Mark tells me that he has been pulled overboard by big fish. Twice!
Fishing for big game is a team effort. Here I am with Mark Lee and Johan Terblanche. Johan is wearing pink which he reckons brings luck. Mark says it makes him look like a girl but then Johan counters this by taking the mickey out of Mark´s ponytail! If you fish from Impi there is a lot you have to contend with!

This is the trolling lure taken by the marlin. Two lures are trolled closer to the boat one on the left side and one on the right. Likewise two are trolled further away. This lure was in the longer position on the right hand side when looking astern.