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…
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!).