Hookup at the seamount

With marine artist and photographer Craig Smith aboard and the action on the reef slow, we headed out to the seamount.

Day one saw Craig release Shaka's first Blue Marlin and late on day two John Hendry hooked up to this beauty.

We called it at 650lbs, but it gave #1 deckie Chris "Rusty" Ferguson more trouble than that - a swim was narrowly averted!

And to add insult to injury, she punched a hole in the side before departing.

And now it's my turn...

I'd waited almost two years through the design and build, missed the first half of the season, watched other people catch 'granders', and now it was my turn...

We'd been confined to port for what seemed like weeks (but was in reality a few days) while various shake-down problems were rectified and so had missed a good slice of the best moon phase. Repairs needed to be tested, and what better way than under real life conditions. So we went fishing...

At least I knew what to expect. But even so, the sheer adrenaline rush of that first hookup caught me off guard. All the theory, all the instruction, all the careful planning went right over the side. I cheerfully admit to liking to be in control and boy, was this out... of... control! Twenty minutes went by in a flash and suddenly the boys were congratulating me on my first marlin. 250lb now seemed a lot bigger than it had a week ago. Another small one that same day still left me thinking I was out of my league here.

Day two and a third small fish. My blood doesn't seem to be pumping so hard, I can follow what the boys are saying and hey, I'm starting to get the hang of this.

Day three dawns bright and clear, but nothing happens 'till late. Around four o'clock all hell breaks loose...this time, it's the boys who are excited! This is where the training runs with three small fish pay off - I'm hooked up to 800lb of chaos and I'm working my butt off. I'm concentrating on my job but I can't help noticing that something is different about this one. That's about when I realize that we're a couple of hundred yards from the reef and headed straight for it. This fish is going to run us on to the reef! No wonder the boys are excited. Meanwhile, I'm trying to decide whether I'm the owner or the angler...

The angler wins. I decide Captain Jared probably wants to run onto the reef even less than me, so I let him worry about it. I do my job, he does his, we turn the fish and bring her in. I can't describe the feeling - I've just been in the fight of my life, almost had my boat wrecked and lived to tell the tale. How good is this?

Everybody congratulates everybody else, I start thinking how good a beer would be but settle for a water. I've barely opened it when the cry rings out again - "Right rigger!" I fleetingly hope for a false alarm, but when you're hot you're hot! Twenty minutes later we release a 450lb fish.

It's five o'clock, I'm more than a little tired and thinking of that beer again. But you never pack up while they're biting...

Ten minutes go by and we're on again. I'm getting used to this and hey, it's only a 250lb fish. We're done in about ten minutes. Now where is that beer?

By now you know what happens. A drink of water, a few deep breaths and away we go...this time about 450lb, so some serious effort is required. But sometimes the fish wins. We got it right to the transom only to find it bill-wrapped. A quick roll, hook out and goodbye. I'm thinking - "I don't care what Captain Jared thinks, I want that beer and I want it now!"

How do you top that? Well, a couple more on day four followed by a 'grander' on day five is close. As it turned out, the 'grander' was one of the easiest of all - she didn't seem to know what was going on and we had her to the boat and released in no time flat.

Final tally, nine from five days. All good things come to those who wait...

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