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Boat noise and wake help feed the trollers

A big blue marlin was caught, but nobody was quite sure how big it was, exactly

With all the communications available in this day and age, you really would think a little effort would go into accuracy. Certainly there was no difficulty or delay in spreading the word to the faithful. Let’s see how this scenario played out.

Monday evening, a returning boat is dragging home a big fish. The fish in question is a blue marlin, rather early for this season by most standards, but not really a surprise to those who acknowledge that the species has been caught throughout the year here. Now to the communications sequence.

A photograph of the fish being towed behind is shared and then re-shared many times over electronic media, via e-mail and social media. Not surprisingly, because the international angling community is quite tightly knit.

Next comes a missive that the fish weighs 1,100lb. Now, that is big enough to get anyone’s attention and the ether is pulsing with electronic messages, copies of the image and comments. Then comes a suggestion, just a hint of one, that the fish may not be that large; the number 500 creeps into the conversation. Someone suggests that maybe it means that the fish is 500 and something kgs, which is in keeping with about 1,100lb. No, things get more complicated.

Remember this is early Tuesday morning and much of this information is making it back to this island from elsewhere, making for a great game of Chinese whispers. Finally, things start to be put into perspective as the actual measurements of the fish are made known. Even these vary a bit depending on the source but pretty much they tell the tale; not a grander, but a nice fish weighing approximately 524lb.

Before the question is asked why Delvin Bean and the crew of the Nothing’s Easy killed the blue, they did not have much choice. They were trolling a heavy line in deep water actually looking and hoping for a bluefin tuna. There is some evidence that they are more numerous around here during the winter months and they certainly make for an attractive economic proposition. Instead, the blue marlin came and took the bait. The fish was fought for some time, but failed to show itself until it was brought to boatside where it was identified. At that point, the fish realised that things were not well and started to carry on as only blue marlin can. In the ensuing chaos the fish became tail-wrapped and effectively drowned, leaving the crew with little alternative other than to take the fish.

While no great shakes as human food, although blue marlin is prized in some locales, it does make an excellent bait for chumming or for lobster traps.

For those wondering what such a warm-water fish would be doing here at this time of the year, there are a number of possible answers. Even in the summer, it is only the surface water that gets really warm — say, the top 15 metres or so. Below this level the water stays at pretty much the same temperature throughout the year and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that marlin spend most of their time at some depth, only popping up to the surface to feed or investigate something that grabs its attention. Therein lies one of the basic factors behind trolling: it is the noise and wake generated by the boat that get the fish interested in the first place. The lure is only important when the fish has moved into attack mode and is looking for something suitable. Combine those factors and you have a plausible explanation for how this particular blue came to grief.

On an even more positive note, it would be nice to think that this is the first of many that will traverse the local waters this year as the season progresses.

While the last couple of years have seen less than top quality action, this year may turn out to be fantastic. June, July and August are indeed coming. For any who may harbour doubts, the mathematical formula that the marlin measurements are plugged in to is highly accurate and is constantly used for weight estimates in tournaments.

With most amateurs confined to shore and only a very few commercial operators concentrating on fin fish, there has not been too much to report lately. Those putting in the time are catching occasional wahoo and the very odd tuna. Yellowfin can be found in the cooler surface water that is the norm here at this time of the year even though they are thought of as a tropical species. But, then again, many would put the blue marlin into that category as well.

These things are but hints but there is more global meteorological data that suggests there may be an early spring this year and it would be in angler’s best interests to be in a position to take advantage of such. A boat with a dirty bottom, untuned engine and gear that has gathered dust is not exactly the best formula for Tight Lines!