1 Nov.: R 12-15 T 2 W 1003, 1091, 1180 #10 Ribbon Reef SE 12-15 - What A F....ing Day!!! Got a few baits at High Rock, then more at top #9 - started fishing just after 12:00 - tagged good one early, then got one after 1 hr. tough fight (also tough at boat - down and swimming on gaff) - got second fish and ran to motherboat - back out at 5:00 p.m. and got another! "Scorpius" and Nicole Denham new Aussie women's 130# record.
This was the first time and only time a boat has ever boated and weighed three marlin over 1,000 pounds in one day. After weighing the first two fish, we went back out at 5 p.m. and boated and weighed in a third. We were back at the mother boat by 6 p.m.
2 Nov.: R2 W 1102, 1146 10-15 ESE #10 Ribbon - late start after yesterday - ran to Heartbreak and fished marks - maybe 5 min. between bites - every boat hooked up all over #10 - big fish - what a day!
In 26 hours we got five bites and caught all five of the marlin. Each one weighed over 1,000 pounds, with an average weight of more than 1,100. We never lost a fish during that streak. Douwma was a great angler, and we had a great boat and a top crew. We never broke a line, kinked a wire, pulled a hook or had any of the myriad other things happen that could have caused us to lose one or more of those fish, proving once again the old saying, "It's always better to be lucky than good."
The good fishing continued through November and into December, and the log tells of many more big fish. Dr. Jim Huddlestun weighed in his biggest fish ever, a 990-pound black, on November 27.
We caught and tagged other big ones and lost some too. The last day we caught a marlin was December 9.We raised two marlin and a sailfish in northerly winds, tagging our last marlin of the year after tagging two out of five in calm seas the day before. Our season was over.
Looking Back and Ahead
It is hard for some of today's anglers to understand how much has changed over the years. In the 1950s and 1960s, before the jet plane allowed Japanese fish brokers to begin paying U.S. fishermen enormous prices for fresh bluefin tuna, dozens of giant tuna were boated each year off Bimini and Cat Cay and towed out to sea for the sharks.
In Australia in the late 1960s, the early days of Cairns, Australia, small, juvenile marlin were caught and sold by commercial fishermen, and passed off as narrow-banded Spanish mackerel for fish and chips.
It was legal to sell the big marlin, but no one wanted them, so they too were towed to sea, and the sharks ate them and returned them to the ecosystem from whence they came.
My first year in Cairns, 1968, Capt. George Bransford and I tagged over 90 percent of the marlin we caught. I tagged well over 90 percent of the marlin I have ever caught as a mate or captain, and only rarely kill a marlin on purpose these days. I tag and release marlin over 1,000 pounds almost every year in Cairns, with only a couple of exceptions. But sharks also get some every year before we can get them to the boat, so I accept the fact that we do indeed still kill some.
Recreational fishing mortality is insignificant with respect to billfish. We still boat a few of the big ones but much more rarely than in years past. It is hypocritical of any billfish angler to castigate a man who weighs in a fish. We all kill some of the fish we admire, even when we try not to. However, it is only from the knowledge gained through tag-and-release that we can hope to save our fish populations.