Day 7 - A Fishermans Tale, a true story.

The Talulah's Web Diary
Ali Pery / Shane Warriker
Tue 8 Dec 2009 12:56

18:58.700N 028:09.357W


…and so, we’ve dragged our fishing lines through 3400 miles of ocean since leaving the UK.

3400 miles of Open Ocean and coastal seas, through calm waters, and rough, crawling along at 3.5 knots and racing along at well over 8, over massive underwater canyons, and steeply rising seamounts, through green water and blue.  When the wind has howled through the rigging, and died away to nothing leaving the sails flapping and driving us nowhere, we’ve dragged our lines.

3400 miles of dedication and perseverance, trying different combinations of lures, rattles and lines, sometimes with three lines in the water and sometimes only one.


3400 miles determined to land “The Big One”


3400 disappointing miles.


And so it came to pass, that when the sun rose we found a flying fish on deck.  The poor little fellow obviously tried to escape some voracious predator during the night, and in the confusion crashed onto Talulah, and found himself a whole lot more confused when the surface he landed on wasn’t water but fibreglass… Unfortunately he didn’t make it through the night!

Now we have a book on board that gives detailed instructions on how to rig a flying fish as bait.  Quote: “it’s so attractive (to predator fish) you’ll have to stand with your back to the water to prepare it” (obviously so as not to have them jumping onto the boat before you’ve had a chance to launch it). Unquote.


Eventually, it was ready to cast off…and so it was done.  Now for the wait.  Like a coiled spring we sat and waited for the reel to scream to indicate a fish had taken the little flying fish. We waited…and waited… and waited.  Slowly the spring started to uncoil, but the belief stayed strong.  Eventually though, even the belief grew weak, and in the last dying minutes before sunset (the sun sets very quickly at these latitudes), just when it’s time to pack it in for the night…BANG!!!


Like a swarm of hornets trapped in a jar with a child who ought to know better tapping on the glass, the reel screamed into action.  Like a man possessed, I leapt across the cockpit and got the tips of my fingers to the rod, just as a shower of fibreglass exploded all over me and the butt (handle) in the rod holder snapped clean off from the force of the strike.  You have to understand, this is a heavy duty sea fishing rod, designed and built for the purpose of catching (big) fish at sea.


Somehow I managed to hold on, and gave a mighty heave on what was left of the rod.  Nothing!!!  I couldn’t move it.  The rod bent to an alarming angle, but whatever was on the end of the line wasn’t going to be budged.  Oh yes my friends, something was there on the end of the line, and it was something HUGE!!!  I could tell it was a fish of course (you can feel the movements) but he wasn’t playing along.  None of this hysterical leaping about, shouting “Save me! Save me!” for this fellow.  Oh no, this leviathan of the deep had the quite confidence, menace even, of a fish who new his worth, and wasn’t about to get into a sweat about a hook in his mouth and a puny human on the other end of the line.


However, on my side of the line, the deep down evolutionary hunter psyche kicked in and I knew, just knew I had to land this fellow.  The lines were drawn and the battle commenced.  Oh how the war raged my friends, neither of us prepared to give any quarter.  Slowly, oh so slowly, I pulled him closer.  Inch by agonising inch.  Muscles screaming for a moments respite and fibreglass splinters attacking me from all sides, I knew I had to change my clumsy grip on the broken rod, but didn’t dare release my handhold, even for a second.


Visions started flashing through my brain.  Visions of sushi and sashimi, tuna steaks and casseroles, tuna salad and even sundried tuna.  Oh how we were going to eat like kings, an orgy of flesh and blood.  No more rock hard tasteless frozen chicken all the way from Brazil by air and now on it’s way back by slowboat.  Let’s throw it out and make space for this monster!

Then I started to have other thoughts, completely contrary to the hunter in me.  What if he’s too big?  Do we really need that much fish? What if he’s so big we can’t get him on the boat?  Do we get him alongside and take a photograph and then cut the line and let him be free.  Returning this grand old man of the sea to his rightful domain, satisfied with ourselves for winning the war, yet humble in our victory.  Almost proud of ourselves for our benevolence, yet confident in establishing ourselves firmly at the top of the foodchain.


…And still the battle raged. I knew I was gaining the upper hand, and then with a casual surge he would resist, almost pulling the rod from my aching fingers.  A quick glance at the amount of line I’d retrieved on the reel told me he was close.  I could feel it!  Feel his presence! I was very glad I was on the boat and not in the water!  I just knew the battle was almost over, he was no more than a couple of meters behind the boat in the inky black water, I only hope he doesn’t swim under the boat and get caught up in the propeller or rudder.  I felt him give three mighty, almost slow motion, shakes of the head, and the line went slack.  No!!! He was gone!  I think he was laughing, he’d had his sport.  There I was, standing with a broken fishing rod in my hand, bleeding and sore, and nothing to show for it.  Well done fish.