Fighting the King.
It is Friday afternoon, August 25, 2023, I am on vacation with my 14-year-old son Marijn on sunny Curacao. We are both crazy about fishing so we booked a fishing trip at Reeladdiction Curacao with Captain Orlando.
When we board just before three o'clock, Orlando is already waiting for us with a big smile. After a warm welcome he asks “what is your target for today?” A nice Mahi mahi or a nice yellowfin tuna, is our answer. To my question what his target is he has a clear answer : a big yellow finn tuna, I want to break my record of last January! The sea is flat today so we can easily get to the fishing buoys. These FAD (Fishing Attraction Devices) are specially placed to stimulate fishing around Curacao. As soon as we are outside the harbor Orlando opens the throttle of his 150 HP powered Total fishing equipped motorboat. The wind blows through our hair and the heat of the day is no longer palpable.
As soon as the buoy is in sight, the first lines are set out, the intention is to do some trawling first. In the middle goes out a line with a tuna lure that remains on the surface, on both sides he puts out two other lines with larger lures, The fishing has started. We turn around and around the buoy for about half an hour, it is eerily quiet. Even Orlando finds it suspiciously quiet, no birds around and certainly no fish. Meanwhile, Orlando prepares the rods to start fishing with bait while drifting. Suddenly a blow and the hard rattle of the mill on the port side. Orlando jumps up and yells "Big one, Yellow fin!" Big one!
We quickly jump to the other lines to start turning, but less than three seconds after the bite, the line stops, in fact it hangs completely slack. Shiiiiit, he's gone???, Orlando starts to turn the line like a man possessed, the line is taut again in 1 go and the slip screeches like crazy. Then we see in the distance, about 80 to 90 meters behind us, a fish jumping above the water. what the fuck, that's not a tuna but a Blue Marlin and he's big, really big. It's a Marlin and he's hughe f***** big! yells Orlando. The smile and surprise on his face speak volumes. Everyone quickly does their job, the other lines are brought in, Orlando behind the helm and Marijn and I take turns at the rod. We are up to the fight of our life. This is different from the pike that we regularly have on the line in the Netherlands.
After half an hour we have the fish at 30 meters from the boat, we see its tail and dorsal fin just above the water, the tail fin is well over the meter. This is the biggest one i've ever seen yells Orlando, come on guys, keep spinning. Fortunately, the rod is fixed in the rod stand because this was never possible for us on a loose rod. Fortunately, this is the strongest rod and braid Orlando has on board. We hope for some nice jumps, but the fish decides otherwise, in 1 jerk he dives to the depth and takes at least 200 meters of line. We will continue to fight, it has only just begun. A kind of ritual arises that repeats itself at least 10 times. We get the fish within 60 yards and then it goes for another run. After an hour and a half he comes up a bit further and at about 60 meters he jumps twice where he bridges at least 50 meters, now we really see how big he is. This one is at least 3.5 meters, maybe four. That will never fit in the boat. But that's not the plan either, we're going to try to get him next to the boat and take some pictures and release him. Because so far we have tried to get the beast on the photo / video, but we haven't succeeded yet. Unfortunately my phone is dead, forgot to charge it and Orlando barely has any battery left either. Fortunately, Marijn is the savior with a full phone. I also have an underwater camera with me. Taking pictures should work.
We go over the two hours and then we are about 17 km from the Island, we started at about 12 km. We have already made more than 15 rounds around and with the fish. The Marlin shows no sign of fatigue yet. We regularly have him close to the boat and then he dives back into the depths. The violent head shaking can be felt throughout the boat. It is thanks to Orlando's sublime steering skills that we still have him on the line. He skilfully turns his boat at the right time so that the line remains free.
It is slowly starting to get dark, on Curacao it gets dark around 7 o'clock. We are now almost three hours further. Then we have the idea that the fish becomes calmer, more tired we assume. We get the Marlin to about 10 to 15 meters right under the boat and we see its silhouette. A cold shiver runs down my spine “is it even possible to tame this beast. I definitely estimate the fish at 3/4 of the boat length. That's close to 4 meters!
In 1 jerk the Marlin takes at least 100 meters of line again. We look at each other and decide to tighten the coil a bit. otherwise we will certainly not be ready before 11 o'clock tonight. There is still a lot of power in the beast. An oil tanker looms in the distance, is it going to throw a spanner in the works? but luckily he turns away from us again.
The fighting continues, the head shaking becomes less and turns into longer "vibration moments" the line is now at maximum tightness. You hear the line sing when some wind comes along. Fortunately, Marijn and I can alternate because otherwise this would be unsustainable. With a lot of force I get the Marlin close to the boat again. The tighter briefs actually just made the beast angrier. He's pretty pissed off. It is now almost dark and the line is difficult to see, but Orlando's boat is equipped with light, so that problem is quickly solved.
After three hours and fifteen minutes he is right below us and we feel that we are winning. What I then see, feel and experience I will never forget, the Marlin sees the boat and dives diagonally under the boat, the rod bends so far that the tip almost touches the water, the drag roars and the whole boat is submerged by the force of the fish turned at least a quarter of a turn. Now another run of at least 150 meters. We are powerless against this. This power is unprecedented, the Marlin is not tired at all but now really angry and we are preparing for an even longer fight. Giving up is not an option. It's gonna be late tonight. This is bizarre, Moby Dick on the line, f**** unbelievable keep calling Orlando. This is truly a one in a million fish. The top of the top of the top. We must have these, even though we're busy until tomorrow morning.
I switch places with Marijn again. Keep fighting calmly. Then suddenly out of the blue, a hard blow, a slack hanging line, no F***** hell calls Marijn. Line broken. There is a moment of eye contact with each other and then an icy silence on board, everyone is sitting with their heads down. After more than 1 minute I look up and look at Orlando. Even he has tears in his eyes. “I don't know whether to cry or laugh,” he says. I feel the same way, kind of disappointment, relief and joy mixed together. Marijn is still staring blankly ahead. Then we come to our senses, what a fight! Did we ever get him in? Alongside for the photo, it was already too dark for that and we never got it on board, yes with a crane, but where do you get it from 17 km from the island. We brace ourselves and sail as fast as we can back to the island, that orange point of light in the distance, that's where we have to go. I don't remember how long it took us but the resignation was there and the experience kept spinning through my head like a movie.
No says Orlando, he was too big, It was the king! We had no chance. When we saw him so close below us I was already worried. Funnily enough I had that too and when he took that last full rush we both already knew it but didn't say it at the time. We made over 15 Miles with the fish on the line but that was still not enough to get him in, I think we had been at least three hours. We moor at a beach bar, get a polar and toast to today's winner. Laughing, Orlando says, I need to adjust my Target. This Marlin comes in at number 1! I'll keep going until I get it.
Haha good luck Orlando, with your class you will probably meet him again and maybe, just maybe you will win! If you are on Curacao and Orlando hasn't caught him yet, go with him, reeladdiction Curacao, ask Orlando if he throws his special Hawaiian lure in the water and get ready for a fight of your life.
Now that I write everything down like this again, despite the 33 degrees, I get goosebumps again. Watched all the videos made but nowhere on screen.... who is going to believe us? Does that matter? No, we know what we've been through!
What an experience and thank you Orlando for letting us experience this with you!
A little disappointed? Of course, but still proud and happy that we were allowed to experience this and even more respect for nature. And certainly for the King of the sea.
Marijn and Ramon Matze,
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