One man, one des­ti­na­tion, four 1,000-pound-plus blue marlin

Marlin - - CONTENTS DEPARTMENTS - —By Heiko Stein­metz, as told to Capt. Jen Copeland

An ad­dic­tion that started in the late 1990s with an in­vi­ta­tion to fish in Ghana, West Africa, soon had Ger­man-born Heiko Stein­metz trav­el­ing the world in search of his own gi­ant blue marlin. To fuel his ob­ses­sion, Stein­metz moved his 29-foot Parker, Black Marlin, to the idyl­lic ar­chi­pel­ago of Cape Verde to be­gin the ex­haust­ing and emo­tional learn­ing curve of chas­ing big blues. The drive for suc­cess comes not from do­ing one thing oc­ca­sion­ally, but from do­ing one thing con­sis­tently. This is the story of one man’s 10-year ven­ture to suc­ceed.

GRAN­DER NO. 1 1,012 pounds; Septem­ber 1, 2009

Au­gust’s heavy rains had sat­u­rated the ocean with dirty, green wa­ter. For two weeks, not a sin­gle marlin came into the spread, and this was just an­other hope­less day. But, this was the day I learned one of my first lessons: The big one al­ways comes when you least ex­pect it.

I had been teach­ing a young man named Dika Cosme to run my boat, and we weren’t 10 min­utes out of port when the marlin ap­peared. The strike was in­tense and solid. Its first run al­most spooled me, so Cosme started to run the fish down in for­ward at 20 knots. For 20 min­utes I con­stantly wound up the slack. Then, the marlin just sat there.

Af­ter an­other 15 min­utes and 65 pounds of heat, I lifted the heavy fish within reach. As soon as the mate had

the leader, I left the chair and quickly sank the fly­ing gaff. We brought it aboard, hop­ing the 21-inch tail girth meant the fish would break the 1,000-pound mark. On the scale, the fish weighed 1,012 pounds — big­ger than the 350 blues I had caught pre­vi­ously. I was so happy to have fi­nally caught my gran­der, and promptly do­nated it to the lo­cal hospi­tal.

GRAN­DER NO. 2 1,024 pounds; Au­gust 31, 2010

It had been so rough in the weeks prior that it was im­pos­si­ble to fish my pre­ferred spots. A calm day fi­nally ar­rived, and I headed out with a friend, Dutch Capt. Faust van Meel. We fished all day, cir­cling my spots with­out a sin­gle knock­down. I was think­ing of wrap­ping it up, then I saw the marlin: a huge black shadow, just out­side the pat­tern by 50 yards. “Marlin! Marlin!” van Meel screamed at the top of his lungs, as my Black Bart Abaco Prowler took a hit and the line started scream­ing off the Shi­mano 130W.

I im­me­di­ately knew this was a big one. I got set­tled in the chair and no­ticed 600 yards had come off the spool in an in­stant, and I was still los­ing line even though van Meel was back­ing down. Af­ter splash­ing 300 yards off the side, the fish went straight down, tak­ing more than 500 yards of mono with it. We had to change the an­gle and turn the marlin’s head, but it didn’t like that at all. It swam straight up and started jump­ing wildly, so I could see just how fat it was.

Af­ter over an hour, the fly­ing gaff went in, and the fish im­me­di­ately shook it out. I jumped out of the chair and quickly set an­other flyer, and my mate fol­lowed with a sec­ond. The marlin was ours.

We do­nated the 1,024-pound fish — with an 81-inch girth, 10 inches less than my first — to the Red Cross.

GRAN­DER NO. 3 1,234 pounds; Au­gust 6, 2016

The ocean was like a mir­ror that day. Af­ter eight hours with­out a bite, my green-and-yel­low Black Bart Gran­der Candy got bit. Very lit­tle line had come off the reel, then the en­gine stalled. No

big deal, I thought. I should be able to dead-boat a small marlin.

Af­ter a few min­utes, we no­ticed the boat was be­ing pulled back­ward and the line had slowly started to come off the spool. We got the en­gine run­ning and were off to catch what I thought was a small fish. Each time Cosme was within leader reach, the marlin would pull off an­other 100 yards, but never more than that.

Two hours later, I re­al­ized we were 7 miles from where we hooked up, so I started to turn up the heat on some­thing we still hadn’t seen. Think­ing this could be an­other mas­sive fish, I sud­denly re­al­ized I was go­ing to need ev­ery bit of my two decades of an­gling ex­pe­ri­ence to land it.

At 75 pounds of drag, fight­ing the fish inch by inch in low gear, the marlin broke the sur­face just as the mate grabbed the leader. “Mon­ster!” I yelled, as it tried to es­cape un­der the boat, but we held onto the fish just long enough to sink the first gaff.

I ded­i­cated that fish to my new­born son, whom I was hold­ing in my arms as the scales hit 1,234 pounds — the 13th-largest blue marlin ever weighed in the At­lantic. The mon­ster was do­nated to a re­tire­ment home, and I am so grate­ful my wife and son were there to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence with me. The blue-marlin-rich wa­ters of Cape Verde pro­vide an­glers a great op­por­tu­nity to catch the fish of a life­time.

GRAN­DER NO. 4 1,037 pounds; July 15, 2018

It was an­other green-wa­ter, fish­less day when I hap­pened to glance over at my short rigger just as a huge fish in­haled my green-and-black Black Bart Puerto Rico Prowler.

The fight started out easy, but af­ter 10 min­utes, it dras­ti­cally changed. The fish dumped me with in­cred­i­ble speed. We got the boat turned and go­ing for­ward on it, but I was get­ting re­ally ner­vous with only 150 yards left on the spool. Cosme skill­fully out­ran the marlin and I got most of the line back. When the marlin fi­nally sur­faced, this ex­cep­tion­ally long fish was the big­gest I had seen in a lit­tle over two years.

Af­ter three failed at­tempts to keep the marlin on the leader, we had it boat­side. My mate’s hands were get­ting crushed and he wanted to let go, but I de­manded he hold on to the fish as I jumped for the fly­ing gaff. Just as soon as my gaff was in, Cosme set the sec­ond one. Once se­cured, we jumped up and down like lit­tle kids, hug­ging each other, not re­al­iz­ing this was quite pos­si­bly my fourth 1,000-pounder.

With a 77-inch girth and a short length of 146 inches, the marlin weighed 1,037 pounds and was given to the church to feed lo­cal fam­i­lies in need.

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