Marlin Fishing Disasters

If you are a fisherman, catching a marlin is the ultimate accomplishment. The term “fighting a fish” was never more true. You are out in the open ocean and strapped to a fish larger than you are and sometimes larger than the boat itself. This fish has a weapon that it will use to try to escape. The sword type beak is like a file and nearly as strong as steel. Hooking, fighting and eventually boating a marlin safely really is a great accomplishment.

There are times when the fight goes terribly badly and the marlin wins. I have been fortunate to catch many marlin and have only been slightly injured a couple of times. Being a sports fishing captain I have heard of some terrible injuries and even death while trying to catch these big fish. Many guys have been scraped up like me but a doctor onboard my ship one day told me he conducted surgery on a fisherman who was stabbed in the eye while trying to pull the fish up by hand. I was in a marlin fishing tournament that lost a fisherman to a large marlin. Two men were fishing in a small boat and hooked a very large marlin. During the fight the fish turned and attacked the boat and put a hole in it. The fish did manage to get unhooked but turned and attacked the boat again and sank it. One of the crew was rescued that night in his life jacket floating alone out in open ocean. The other fisherman had tried to swim the 5 miles to shore and was never found.

In another situation a couple of friends went out with one of their girl friends. They went to a place we call the banks. It's about twenty miles offshore. Basically it's an underwater mountain full of sea life. They had once again hooked a very large marlin. They spent hours fighting the fish and had finally got it to the boat. They had only a small 20 ft. boat with twin outboard motors. They made a decision to try to pull the fish between the two engines onto the deck. What happened was the fish got stuck in between the two motors and pulled the stern underwater. The boat quickly filled with water, sank and flipped over. The three of them spent 22 hours riding on bottom of the hull. They told the story of big sharks swimming all around them just waiting for the boat to sink all the way. They were very lucky when a Russian trawler spotted them and saved their lives.

When catching marlin it's best to have an experienced boat operator and fisherman to guide you on these dangers as they arrive. If you are marlin fishing for the first time try to learn all you can from others. There are many things that can go wrong that only end up with the loss of the fish. The things that go wrong that result in injury can for the most part be avoided. Remember it is a fight to the death and respect the dangers it presents.

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by Christopher P Bassler


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