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My Little Boy Caught a Marlin
Posted On 01/13/2010 04:06:55 by Aktray

It has been told around campfires and over beers for hundreds of years.  The biggest, most exciting, most challenging fish to have on the end of a line is the legendary marlin.  Guides put pictures of them on their sites to attract customers.  Governments list them as endangered which entices even more desire from those that want the ultimate experience of rod and reel.  Sport fishing boats criss-cross the off-shore waters searching for them – investing thousands of dollars in technology to locate the schools of fish that they feed on.  Praying that one of their clients would happen to hook one and sit in the special seat on the bow with the belt around their waist so they don’t get pulled in as they fight the monster.

Those that are lucky enough to experience this once in a lifetime event pay thousands to have it mounted in their family room where they can talk about the day they landed the big one.  They talk of the 45 minute fight.  The rod bent nearly in half.  The excruciating pain in their right forearm.  Be it said, it is a once in a lifetime event for even the best sportsmen.  Some never get the chance.

My little boy did it at age 7. 

It was off the coast of Cancun back in 2005.  We rented a catamaran with another family we never met before.  The boat was driven by a Mexican that was just glad to be working and making a bit of money from American tourists.  A cheap spare rod with a jig was available for the kids to play with as the adults enjoyed the ride to the “secret beach” for a picnic.

Zach was flinging the jig in and out of the water as the sails filled with wind and we moved out over the waters to our destination.  He didn’t really have a grasp of how the reel worked, but eventually figured out how to cast it out and reel it in.  He had a single-minded determination to work that rod and reel while the rest of us played, talked, laughed, and enjoyed the ride.  Keeping him in the corner of my eye, I even considered telling him to put it down lest he accidentally hook someone onboard.

We were half way on our journey, way out from shore with the sails at full mast.  The bow was flying over the waves enticing yells of excitement from the passengers as it felt like we were getting air.  Luckily, the Mexican gentlemen guiding us on our short journey noticed the rod tip dip.

He knew I was his father and he yelled some Spanish at me and nodded to my son.  I thought he had gotten in trouble, but the guy had a huge grin on his face and repeatedly nodded to Zach.  My son had a full proper fisherman’s grasp on the rod, tucked into his bellybutton.  Left hand grasping the base.  Right hand one and a half feet up grasping the rod.  He was leaning back in the classic stance.  The tip doubled over, the reel whining out line like crazy. 

I was on the opposite side of the catamaran and couldn’t get to him.  I knew he was about to be yanked into the ocean like a rag doll.  A mix of pride at seeing my son, barely three and a half feet with a huge fish on and fear of knowing he was about to be yanked from the bow.  Another passenger on the boat also saw what was happening.  He just happened to be a big 250 pound college guy and was right next to him.  I couldn’t get to him in time so we nodded to each other.  He knew this was special so he waited until the last minute to grab the rod from his hand.

Bam! The fight was on!  There was no special seat.  No safety belt.  This was a catamaran for families.  My 250 pound friend dug his heels in, leaned back, and raised that rod high!  Both me and my step-dad yelled direction to him.  “Pump the rod!  Reel it in on the down stroke!  Pull up!  Zach stood there with his eyes as wide as frying pans. 

After 20 minutes, Mr. 250 pounds was done in.  His shirt was drenched with sweat.  Exhausted, he passed it to his buddy who was equal in size.

That lasted about 10 minutes.  The fish made a run and dove under the boat.  The tip of the rod bent down and started to dip into the water beside the bow.  Frantic direction yelled by my step-dad to “get low!”.  “Turn this boat around!”, he said to the Mexican, who immediately responded by firing the outboard and circling it around.  The fish then made a run outward and the big dude stood up and let slack.  More yells to keep it tight! 

Just then it happened…  It was like the world stopped and ran in slow motion.  There was no sound from the engine.  No yelling from the passengers.  Complete silence. 

It broke the surface like a torpedo.

The sun glistened from its colorful body.

Its dorsal fin in full expansion as its body cleared the water.

A full two feet above the surface, it hung in the air… easily four feet long from tip to fin.

It seamed like it was there for minutes, then SPLASH!  Sound returned, screams of excitement, cameras clicking, water everywhere.  I looked at Zach who had excitement in his eyes.

After 20 minutes, the guy with the rod passed it back to the other guy who was now rested.  He fought it for another 15 minutes.  I held Zach back in case something unexpected happened.  It took the two men and the Mexican to haul it up on the boat.  The fish was totally exhausted.  It had been a solid hook that wouldn’t break.  Ordinarily these prizes are caught on professional charters and turned back, but this was an unexpected catch on a boat not equipped to handle such things.  The fish had not survived the longer than normal fight.

When we reached our “secret beach”, we filleted it and grilled it over an open fire.  A fitting end to a battle only dreamt about by many a sportsman.  A picture hangs over our mantel of a huge fish and the three tired anglers that brought it in.  My 7 year old boy and two guys we never knew.  May the memory be told over many campfires and beers.




Tags: Marlin Cancun



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