By Shawn Anderson
The other day the Captain remarked ¨Beautiful day, calm sea, trade winds, sailing under full sail, including stuns’ls; this doesn’t get better.¨ Now usually I am inclined to agree with the Captain, but there is one more thing to add to this scenario: catching fish. Today we landed one of the largest fish, if not the largest, in our history of Picton Castle (who knows what she caught in her 40 years as a fishing vessel)!
Since sailing from Rarotonga we have had some bad luck and a dryspell while fishing underway. We had only landed two (a mahi mahi, and a wahoo). We had some good strikes, but we failed to bring them in. We even had a hook bent. All this poor luck changed though at about ten past six Monday morning. A big fish struck, and struck hard. Paul and Dave spotted it from the quarterdeck. Dave slowly handlined it in from there, while Paul waited on the aloha deck with the gaff at the ready. It was a slow haul, as the catch gave a good fight, but with Dave hauling it from a heightened position, its power and speed were null and void. As our soon to be prize came in we saw it was a good sized marlin. Since we first dropped our lines in the water, we´d been dreaming of the day when we would bring in a marlin, and here it was. The pressure was on to bring it on board.
The marlin was tired as Dave brought it within the gaff’s range, it barely moved as Paul went to gaff it. Once Paul had secured the gaff good and deep, he, Donald, and myself hauled it up with three big lifts and calls of ¨2-6!¨ It thrashed about the aloha deck as we did our best to put it out of its misery. Only twenty minutes had elapsed since it had bit. By now we had successfully given quite the wake up call to almost all hands on board.
As anyone who fishes well knows, the real work had only just begun. To weigh it we needed to hang it, so we dragged it it up to the galley house. Here we would try to weigh it, measure it, take the obligatory photos of the pirze, and lastly clean and cut it. This wasn’t actually as simple as it seems. It proved to be too heavy for our scale, which goes to 50 kg (110 lbs). It proved to be too long to be hung from the galley house strongbacks. We proved our catch though with photographic evidnence. We then began the long process of cleaning the fish.
We ended up measuring it at just under 7´0¨. We combined the weight of the sections to be 68 kg (approx 150 lbs). I stand by my belief that the only way sailing like this can get any better, is the call of ¨ Fish On!¨