It was raining lightly and fully overcast as we trolled around just outside the reef. After a half an hour it looked like more rain and so we turned back toward Savusavu. Cutting close to the light house off the Jean Cousteau resort Kathy noticed the pole tipped dip a few times and then a few more. I picked up the rod and looking back saw a large fin. More taps on the line so I let some line out then quickly retrieved to tease the fish in to striking. This old Pacific Northwest salmon fishing trick worked and instantly the rod was doubled over and the reel screaming.
The large fin made me think we had a large shark, given the steady pull of line rocketing off the reel. Moments later that idea was busted when a seven to eight foot marlin broke through the surface with it's huge sword thrashing madly in the air as it mightily tried to spit the hook. Needless to say my excitement level was pegged in the red zone. Kathy took the helm to chase after the fish and a memorable battle ensued with the fish jumping clear of the water at times and repeatedly stripping line off the reel at an amazing pace. With arms burning from the incredible pressure we traded off fighting the fish and ever so slowly the battle turned and we started to gain ground and after about thirty minutes we had the fish within two boat lengths. Again, it charged away with renewed vigor taking several hundred yards of line. Each time it would burst out of the water I was sure the hook would be thrown free, but it held on tenaciously. Another fifteen or twenty minutes went by before we again had the fish close. My arms were so tired I could barely hold the rod and reel and wondered who would ultimately win the battle. Now we had the fish within about forty feet and had our gaff hook and a large noose ready (we intended to lasso the tail of the fish with the noose to secure the fish from escape and to assist in lifting it into the boat) as I was concerned that the fish outweighed me considerably and that it might pull me in the water once I sunk the sharp tip of the gaff into it's head. We'd been fighting the fish off the starboard side and intended to land it there as well. With lasso and gaff at the ready the fish decided to swim around the bow of the boat. Kathy deftly maneuvered the boat in reverse to keep the fish from fouling the line on the underside of the boat. Unfortunately, the dinghy that was tied amidships on the port side swung around the bow and the fishing line broke as it rubbed on the dinghy.
Damn! We were so close to landing this monster. I'd already pictured myself proudly standing next to the fish in front of the Savusavu yacht club as yachties and townspeople gathered around marveling at the size of the beast. Meanwhile the local newspaper reporters peppered us with questions as cameras clicked and flash bulbs filled the air in preparation for the front page story in tomorrows Fiji Times. Then slicing up the one hundred and eighty pounds of fish so the whole town would enjoy marlin steaks for dinner. Oh well, the battle was memorable and I have a few more days of fishing in my future.
Today we sailed out of Savusavu and will slowly make our way to Yadua Island only seventy miles or so away, but the route will traverse many reefs so we plan to break the trip up into three segments. We covered twenty five miles today and even managed to catch a nice yellow fin tuna along the way and once anchored prepared some beautiful lightly seared pepper crusted tuna steaks. Fish so fresh it nearly melts in your mouth.
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