Wednesday, February 19, 1997
San Jose del Cabo, Mexico --
I was along for the ride. Sitting high up on the bow, dragging a small plastic squid on the outside chance of tying into a tuna. It was Ralph’s boat and he was driving. Pat was sitting in the middle seat. We had been out since midmorning, about 2 ½ hours. Ralph had caught a very nice four-foot dorado which was in the water-soaked gunny sack on the floor and the small sierra mackerel caught by Pat was back in the briny, a little wiser than your average mackerel. We were zigzagging in big long looping zees, in the dead calm of the turquoise waters, our landmark, Cabo Pulmo, a hazy brown hill about three miles due west.
Then my reel started screaming. The line was being peeled off so fast that it became dangerous. We chased the fish. So this is why tuna are so revered as game fish, I thought. That is, until I saw a break in the surface 150 yards away, a marlin. A @#*!! Marlin! Ralph, who had been fishing the baja for the last 20 years, claimed to have never hooked a marlin. Pat, a kindergarten teacher from Portland, Oregon had a story to tell the kids. And I was about to take a ride. We fought the marlin for an hour. When it made its runs, we chased it. We would get directly over it, the line going straight down 200 feet, the marlin just hanging out, perhaps aware of some sort of nuisance. When I would try to move it, my rod tip would bend, the monofilament line would stretch as a tight as a piano wire and the fish wouldn’t budge. It was like I was hooked on the bottom. Then it would take off.
The cheap Abu Garcia shore-casting open-faced reel would cry out for mercy. The line would slash through the water with an audible "zing". No longer perpendicular to the water, the angle of the line would rapidly begin to lessen. The marlin was shooting to the surface. "He’s going to jump! He’s going to jump!" Pat was poised with his camera. Ralph was just enjoying the show.
The marlin would magnificently break the surface, each time a little closer to the boat. Shaking his head back and forth like on TV. Seemingly walking on the water. At one point the fish was lying on the surface of the water no more than 50 yards away. For the first time, I actually thought I might be able to land it and began to wonder what the record was for marlin taken on 25-pound test line. It was now close enough for me to see my lime-green lure was not even hooked on the fish. It was just dangling there, the line wrapped around its bill.
Five minutes later, the fish was free having shaken the hook. My line was intact and the squid lure was back in Ralph’s tackle box. It was over. I had a marlin and I fought it for an hour. Pat was able to get some pictures and he promised me he would send me copies from Portland. Until then, the two little black and blue circles on my stomach left by the butt-end of my fishing pole is the only proof I have, that it wasn’t all a dream.