Sport-fishing hot spots such as Kona, Hawaii, and Cairns, Australia, are known for their grander-size marlin, so it came as a surprise when a 1,062-pound blue marlin — the first grander of 2014 — was caught in one of the most unexpected locations: Africa.
Ol Jogi II — a 32-foot Bertram with 2 x 275 hp Caterpillar engines — hooked the 1,000-pounder at 11:20 a.m. on the Rips offshore from the Kenyan town of Watamu on Friday, March 21, 2014. The fish took a Williamson Lure BBI No. 1 in black and purple.
This is only the second grander marlin caught in Kenyan history. The first was caught by Angus Paul off Neptune 10 years ago. It weighed 1,197 pounds, and its mould still hangs on the wall in Malindi fishing club just north of Watamu.
The skipper, Stuart Simpson, saw the marlin come up to the boat’s teaser and called it a grander from the first glance. "I had a feeling when I first saw it that it was a grander," said Simpson. "I had never seen one like it."
The marlin came up to the teaser three times before switching to a 50-pound flat line, which the crew — with little time to deliberate — had to wind away from the fish. The marlin proceeded to "prop-watch" for the next 20 minutes before finally dropping back to take a lure.
"It was incredibly tense," said British angler Roger Sutherland, who wound in the prize fish. "There was a flurry as we took the flat line out the water then nervous silence while the fish followed us."
When the fish eventually took the lure, Simpson knew it was well hooked and the fight was on. Sutherland fought the fish for two-and-a-half hours on 100-pound-class line. "As the fish was hooked, we came back on the drag immediately to 6 pounds," Simpson said. "Once the fish had stopped running we went up to about 60 pounds of drag pressure." Within an hour, the crew had the trace wrapped and started to pull, but the fish took another 330 feet of line and the fight continued.
Simpson has been fishing professionally for 10 years and in that time has caught more than 400 marlin. Fewer than 10 of those fish have come in to the gantry, and with the exception of this grander, his first, all of those brought in have died on the line. This is one he won't forget.
“I am sorry the fish had to die, but to be honest, I knew the fish was big,” Simpson told GrindTV. “I’m strictly tag and release, [but] every now and again something is thrown at you, and this was a chance for myself, angler, crew, Watamu, Hemingways, Kenya, and everyone else around to put Kenya fishing back on the world map."
When the fish reached the gantry at Hemingways and weighed in at 1,062 pounds, the skipper, angler, crew and more than 200 spectators were thrilled to celebrate the second grander caught in the history of Kenyan fishing and the first grander caught worldwide in 2014.
Asked how he felt to have caught Kenya’s second grander Simpson said that "This fish is very important to Kenya’s tourism and to Watamu as a big-game fishing destination. We have incredibly diverse waters — a great destination for grand slams — and now we have proved once again that our big fish are still out there."
The ABF sponsored him with a satellite tag earlier this year and will continue to work with him to collect much-needed tag data.
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