My First Marlin by Rachel Larratt
As all deep-sea fishing trips begin, we were up bright and early. It was almost 10 am as we reached the dock carrying loads of beer, margarita supplies and ample amounts of sandwich ingredients. The plan for the day was to head out from Marina Palmira in La Paz out to the area around Espirito Santo. We’d spend some of the day fishing and then a few hours snorkeling with the Sea Lions at the north end of the island.
Our boat for the day was the 38 foot Mediterranean “El Ganador” that we rented from Desea Adventures. It came crewed with our Capitan and our deck hand David. We settled in on the bow with our breakfast for the 45 minutes ride out to the open water.
Due to the fact that we’re not really fishermen and that we couldn’t be persuaded to arrive at the dock between 6-7am, we’d missed out on live bait. Our bait for the day would be brightly colored squid shaped lures. In total we had 5 rods out in the water. After trolling for about 15 minutes, I watched as a marlin leapt into the air. The zip of the line was unforgettable! My shipmates turned and saw just in time as the marlin landed back into the water. The line went silent. We all knew we lost it.
We quickly threw on some flippers and dove into the 85-90 degree water. It was almost like taking a bath. After 3 hours without a single bite, we moved on to go snorkeling with the sea lions. On our way to the colony we spotted a school of 8 or more porpoises. They were beautiful! I was hoping they’d swim along with the boat once we’d intersected them but they were on a different course. We arrived at the colony and within minutes, two giant sea lions approached the boat. We’d left the lures only 4 feet above the water and they’d come to inspect the possible “toy”. We quickly threw on some flippers and dove into the 85-90 degree water. It was almost like taking a bath. Within minutes we’d gone from the middle of the island to the west edge. The current was so strong that I had to swim to a nearby boat to retrieve a rope as one of my companions was a very poor swimmer and was being taken out to sea. Luckily she had a life jacket on and was able to stay afloat easily. I enjoyed the swim back to our boat, even though it was tough.
The water was incredibly clear and there were more varieties of fish than I have ever seen in this particular location. Tiny fish skimmed the surface in front of my mask and larger fish swam around the rocks at the bottom of the sea. We only spent about 30 minutes in the water due to the current because it was fairly exhausting. A few tour boats came and went and they also were not able to stay for long. Normally when we snorkel with the sea lions it is for an hour or longer. After watching the sea lions from the boat, we decided to try our hand at fishing again.
We set out towards the same area that we’d been fishing before. We spotted a school of pilot whales and changed course to get a closer view. The Sea of Cortez is an amazing place. Everything from Sea Lions to Whale Sharks live here and it’s not uncommon to spot more than one amazing species on a day trip!
From inside the cabin I heard that sound. ZIP!!Suddenly I heard the ZIP of the line and I watched as a small Dorado launched into the air. It was a beautiful sight but it didn’t last for long. Again the line went quiet. I started to feel a little sick to my stomach. The long swim and the heat out on the water started to get to me. At this point I’d begun to feel like we weren’t going to catch anything so I went into the cabin to have a short nap in the air conditioning. The gentle rock of the boat almost lulled me to sleep. From inside the cabin I heard that sound. ZIP!! I jumped off the bunk bed and ran outside. I waited for a second before getting my hopes up and then I saw the marlin jump into the air. It was an amazing rush!
I took my place in the chair. Keep in mind; I’d never gone salt water fishing before. I’m used to catching sunfish in a pond behind my house! I reeled the fish in for 10-15 minutes. It looked like it was half a mile away. I was worried about the line snapping or the hook coming out of the marlin’s mouth. Just something happening that was out of anyone’s control. I switched places with Heather when I just felt like I couldn’t reel it in any more. She rocked back and forth pulling the marlin in for another 10 minutes and we switched a couple more times. It was excruciating work and I can’t imagine what it’s like to pull in a 700 pound marlin.
I was finally able to reel it in and from my seat I could see the color starting to show under the water. The reflection from the sun was amazing. There were greens and golds and blues flashing beneath the surface. David reached down and pulled the fish up by its mouth, and then he proceeded to gaffe it. It was definitely a shock to see. I thought that was all that had to be done until I saw the small aluminum baseball bat that looked like it had met with one too many rocks. The striped marlin was hit over the head a few times and then placed into our boat after a few photos were taken.
We decided to head in since we’d caught a marlin. David was surprised but I figured we had caught a great fish that day and we didn’t need anymore. I don’t think I could handle anymore reeling!
Once the fish was filleted, it was split up into 6 giant freezer bags. We left one with the captain and one with David. I’m guessing about 80 pounds of fish was filleted from the marlin.
As soon as we got home we grilled some marlin with olive oil, garlic and lemon and had a great dinner. All in all this was definitely a great day on the ocean.