Reader’s Story MAR­LIN

A jet-ski MARATHON Blain Pol­lock might be rel­a­tively new to the world of jet-ski fish­ing, but he sure is get­ting the hang of it in leaps and bounds, as you will read…

NZ Fishing News - - Reader's Story -

Ever since get­ting a jet-ski in spring last year to re­place my 8.5m boat, the HULK, I was set on catch­ing some big fish from it as a new chal­lenge. Af­ter tick­ing off some hefty snap­per over spring and the sum­mer hol­i­days, I was hang­ing out to get into some­thing big­ger. On one of the last days of the family hol­i­day at Ho­houra, there was a brief break in the east­er­lies, so a quick af­ter­noon dash out off Cape Karikari com­menced, re­sult­ing in my first New Zealand

yel­lowfin af­ter only 30 min­utes trolling – not a big one, but at 15.5kg I was happy enough.

That was the end of my fish­ing for a month or so, as our new baby ar­rived, so more brownie points were re­quired for sub­se­quent trips. Fi­nally I’d fed enough kids and cleaned enough messes to get out again, so on Fe­bru­ary 24 I did the trip from Auck­land to Tu­tukaka for a day out north of the Knights.

This was to be my first time run­ning a dredge off a jet-ski, and I was also run­ning a third spin rod for the first time. I wasn’t sure how well this would work upon hook­ing-up.

I didn’t have to wait long to find out, as a cou­ple of hours in I had a strike on my shot­gun lure. There was a mad scram­ble to clear the gear and then or­gan­ise my­self for fight­ing the fish – not the smoothest op­er­a­tion, but it soon be­came clear that this wasn’t the mar­lin I was hop­ing for. Rather, a horse skippy had given me a prac­tice run. Back he went with a bit of curs­ing and in went the gear again.

An­other cou­ple of rough hours went past, the wind and swell mak­ing things pretty un­pleas­ant, and then an­other strike. This time it was a mar­lin and the gear came in a lot smoother, hav­ing learnt a few lessons ear­lier. Af­ter about a one-minute fight the hook pulled and I was left feel­ing gut­ted. At least the wind had started to drop a bit though. Know­ing I had a long drive home, I wasn’t go­ing to stay out too late, so de­cided I would pull the lures at 2.30pm to head back to shore.

At 2.25 I spot­ted a few splashes off to one side, so turned in that di­rec­tion, drove past the splashes, cir­cled back around … and noth­ing. Maybe I was see­ing things? So I turned to­wards Tu­tukaka and about one minute later, just as I was think­ing of quit­ting, my short cor­ner be­hind the dredge went off amidst some big splashes.

I quickly started clear­ing the gear again and then no­ticed I had two scream­ing Stel­las. Grab­bing the one with the least amount of line, I quickly called it for a tuna, but a de­cent one this time. Af­ter 12 min­utes of hard work, try­ing to avoid tan­gles, I sunk the gaff into a nice yel­lowfin that hardly fit­ted in the ’ski’s side well. I had to se­cure the fish be­fore pick­ing up the other rod, so I wouldn’t lose it. Fi­nally, hav­ing left the out­fit in the rod holder for about 15 min­utes since hook-up, I grabbed the other rod and set about get­ting back the huge amount of line that was out. I got the fish up near the sur­face and re­alised it was com­ing up back­wards. Ini­tially think­ing it was foul hooked, I lifted the tail out of the wa­ter and was about to gaff it when it went nuts, com­pletely sat­u­rat­ing me and div­ing back down to 30m.

A few min­utes later it was back up on the sur­face, where I could see it was ac­tu­ally tail wrapped, and this time the gaff hit home. I now had two fish on board and no idea how I would get them back in to shore. Even­tu­ally I man­aged to tie them to each other across the han­dle bars and seat, and ride home with my feet on them. Back at the weigh-sta­tion they went 35.4kg and 31.2kg, and I was one happy chappy!

The next week I saw that the fore­cast was look­ing good for the west coast, so told a few clients I was booked up for Fri­day and off I went from Man­gere Bridge at 42 knots to a spot I had iden­ti­fied the night be­fore with my ocean SST chart.

The lures were dropped in at 80m, right on my spot, and a few min­utes later I spot­ted some dol­phins and gan­nets. Af­ter trolling through them for 10 min­utes, I de­cided to do a much big­ger cir­cle, and was around 500m or so from the dol­phins when I looked back to see a mar­lin bill thrash­ing around in the dredge – and then it dropped back to the short cor­ner lure and the Stella started to sing. Yee-haa! It was only 9.10am and I was on!

With the gear cleared and spool now very low, I left the rod in the holder and started to chase the fish down, which put on a great aerial dis­play be­fore dig­ging in deep. Then I no­ticed the dol­phins all around me again, and I was freak­ing out that one would hit the line.

I ac­tu­ally got the fish close within about 15 min­utes, but not for long, the fish charg­ing away again. About 1.5 hours in, I

had it close once more and re­al­ized just how big it was. I also re­alised that the line was wrapped around its pec­toral fin, mak­ing mov­ing this fish from 10m down, where I could see him, al­most im­pos­si­ble.

The next few hours were spent with the fish only me­tres below, swim­ming in cir­cles, and the jet-ski pin-wheel­ing around and round in re­sponse, but I just couldn’t lift it.

It would dive down to about 40m reg­u­larly and then I’d get it back, just un­der the ’ski, where it would hold. At one stage I got the top shot in hand, only to have the fish do one long steady run down to 80m straight un­der me, en­abling me to see the progress on the sounder.

By now I was cook­ing in my jumper and had run out of wa­ter. Nu­mer­ous boats were ap­proach­ing me to see what was go­ing on, and I flagged one down who threw over the best cold wa­ter I’ve ever tasted.

I also needed a rest at this point, as I’d been hold­ing a spin­ning out­fit ex­ert­ing 8-9kg drag for al­most four hours, my rod’s gim­bal wear­ing a hole right through the pouch in the process. I had the shakes and cramps pretty bad too, so put the rod in the holder, drove away from the fish, took off some cloth­ing, and jumped in the wa­ter to cool down. Next, I grabbed a packet of choco­late bikkies, did a quick bat­tery change on the Gopro, and was ready to go again.

I couldn’t be­lieve I’d been on this fish for so long, and thought it couldn’t pos­si­bly be much longer. My phone had been ring­ing heaps; I even­tu­ally an­swered a call from my old man and told him what was go­ing on. He talked to my wife, who talked to a cou­ple of my mates, and be­fore long Face­book was go­ing vi­ral about some 300kg blue or black on a jet-ski! Good ol’ Chi­nese whis­pers amongst the fish­ing com­mu­nity!

Back into the hard slog and I no­ticed a ce­ramic in­sert had come

out of one of my rod’s guides, leav­ing the sharp metal frame rub­bing on my del­i­cate braid!

Af­ter quickly straight­en­ing the rod, I found some pli­ers, grabbed the of­fend­ing guide and wig­gled it un­til it broke away, be­fore care­fully bend­ing it up out the way. (It did ac­tu­ally cross my mind that bro­ken braid would mean the pain would be over, but I was de­ter­mined not to lose this fish.

Fi­nally, six hours and five min­utes af­ter hook-up, at 3.15pm, I got the swivel to the rod and grabbed the 250lb leader. This huge stripy was WAY big­ger than any mar­lin I’d caught be­fore, and my pre­vi­ous plan of jump­ing on the big fish to iki it now seemed rather stupid. So I tried to move the fish for­ward fur­ther to get a re­ally good gaff shot on it. Then, just as I was get­ting in po­si­tion, the worn leader fi­nally gave way. The fish was still right there though, and adrenalin lev­els were at an all-time high, so I gaffed it any­way...

Turns out I should’ve just left it as a nice clean re­lease, be­cause once the gaff went in, things got pretty crazy! The fish thrashed around, flip­ping the jet-ski on its side; I wasn’t about to let go, so held on as hard as I could while hold­ing the back of the ’ski with my other hand. The gaff hook was only a me­tre or so from the tail, so the next 20 or 30 sec­onds mostly in­volved me get­ting stretched and beaten by the fish’s tail in an erup­tion of white wa­ter. Even­tu­ally the gaff slipped from my grip and the fish was free.

Af­ter swim­ming around and col­lect­ing my stuff float­ing in the wa­ter, I pulled my rod back in from the end of the safety lan­yard. What had just hap­pened?

I couldn’t wait to see what the Gopro footage would look like. How­ever, upon pulling it off my head, I saw that it wasn’t on – the bat­tery had gone flat. (Worst of all, upon look­ing at the footage, it lasted right up un­til the fish was just be­hind the ’ski only a cou­ple of min­utes short of the ex­cit­ing fi­nale!

I was com­pletely ex­hausted and could barely hold the han­dle bars for the long trip home, but couldn’t wipe the smile off my face all the way back. I might have been bro­ken, but it was the best day’s fish­ing ever and some­thing I’ll never for­get.

P.S. Fab­ri­ca­tion is now un­der­way for a fight­ing rod holder to get that big sword (or maybe just a medium one would be nice!).

Blain Pol­lock was chuffed with his yel­lowfin dou­ble – but more ex­cite­ment was to come!

Thanks to the line be­ing caught around the pec­toral fin, deal­ing with the fish close to the jet-ski proved a near-im­pos­si­ble thing.

Shi­mano Stella spin reels are the writer’s weapons of choice when game­fish­ing from his jet-ski.

On feel­ing the hook, the big striped mar­lin took to the air.

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