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Half Day Blues

By Stewart Downing

After we had spent a few more days on the beach, recovering from our white knuckle safari, we had a half day booked with Steve to try to get Heather her first GT or Sailfish, so she was to stay in the seat until she had caught one or the other! Heather was struggling to stir from slumber when the alarm went off at 5 am, due in the main to her reluctance to part with a bottle of Rum, from which she was fuelling the most sinister Rum Punches in creation. I was far more sensible and very conscious of the fact that the wind was getting up at last, and not only was there a better chance of a marlin, but also we were going to get chucked around a bit more than usual! As we slipped our moorings about half an hour later, it was indeed a bit choppy, but to her credit, she fished like a demon, for at least twenty minutes before she was lounging on the huge soft cushioned seats on board Tega; concerned more with catching some more sleep, than catching more fish!

Heather ready to pounce on the rods!

We trolled around up and down Sail Alley, but despite improving conditions, we neither saw, raised or hooked a single Sail; and so by mid-morning we were heading off to a GT spot about 15 miles out, in order to try to get one of these brutes to Heather’s rods. We were slow trolling over a reef mark, with Sebile Magic Swimmers and some spurious solid bodied lures that belonged to Steve, the skipper, that he placed the utmost faith in for the GTs in particular. No GTs were forthcoming, but Heather had plenty of fun with Skipjack Tuna, Yellow Fin and Kawa Kawa from 3-5 kgs. Another skipper had radioed in a marlin sighting from this mark earlier in the day, so with an abundance of both live and dead tuna, we decided to slip out a couple of rigs on the 80lb class gear, one baited with a live Kawa Kawa and the other with a Skippy deadbait.

Rigging for GTs

Heather had very graciously insisted that if a Marlin took either bait, then the rods were mine; and as Steve skillfully maneuvered the boat over and around the mark, the tension mounted, with the livebait getting very frisky. I slipped on the butt pad, and readied myself for my first Marlin strike, and soon after the left hand rod buckled over as an unseen monster hit the 8lb livebait, and the reel exploded into life with line melting off the spool.

Quick as a flash, I was on the rod, waiting for the fish to stop running so as I could set the hooks. It took about 120 yards of line I guess before it stopped, and as I made contact and set the hooks, I was frantically searching the surface in front of me for signs of a Marlin breaking the surface. If it was a Marlin, it was not interested in leaping, and after 10 minutes, I was convinced it was a shark that had taken our bait, rather than any Marlin.

80lb class tussle

Whatever it was, the fish was not small, and was putting a pretty good bend in the 80lb class outfit, and I was looking forward to a strong fight. The fish kept diving deep on long blistering runs, but with vigorous pumping and winding, I was able to bring the fish back up, before it dived again. This tug of war went on for about another 10 minutes, before I began to suspect that it was probably not a shark either, as it was diving too much, and was either a huge Amberjack or another big GT! I got colour soon after, and as I peered over the gunwhale, I saw what I can only describe as a giant mirror flashing about 30 feet below the surface. It was indeed what I call a “Double G & T”, a huge GT that was easily over 50kg!!! My heart was racing, my arms and other parts were twitching, as I knew that this was a massive fish, and of a very rare size, a true leviathan in the world of GT fishing! I shouted across to Steve and the crew that I had seen the fish, and that we simply had to put it in the boat now! With that Steve retorted that it was only lightly hooked and to take it very steady. I got the fish up another 15 feet sowe could clearly see it on video, and I could see that the leader was only 12-15 feet from the tip ring. I was nearly there. Next thing I see the fish flash and turn, putting on the power again, and out pops the hook !!………

The one that got away - so close!!

GT...power....mangled hooks on a lure....

It was all caught on video, and every time I watch it, I weep like a girl… It would have obliterated my previous PB caught on that trip of 43kg (approx 95lbs), but after a few drinks it really came home that that is what fishing is all about – there is always tomorrow to catch that elusive fish Just how strong is the GT! We had one more half day’s fishing for the holiday to go, and after losing that GGT, I was more determined than ever to ensure that Heather would catch her first very elusive Sailfish. It was going to be her day !

Find out how she got on soon Until then, be a bit luckier than me that trip!!

Stew and Heather

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