From the moment we arrived on the
island of Sao Vincente in the the word on the dock had not been especially encouraging, more specifically, we had soon learned, very few marlin had either been seen or caught during the past few weeks; the general feeling was that the main run of fish had migrated through. Our first of five days fishing booked aboard ‘Dimeu’, a 40ft Pace sports fisher skippered by Calu Banbosa, seemed to confirm this. Following 9 hours trolling in the channel between Sao Vincente and Santo Antao, blue marlin alley when the fish are running, we returned to the dock after just one strike that had produced a 50lb wahoo. Cape Verde Islands
Our second days fishing, July 14th, again started off slowly and as Calu headed towards the western end of the island and the famed San Pedro Bank, once again we settled into the generally dull routine of sitting and watching our spread of lures working astern of us, to the monotonous thump of a powerful diesel engine. Then, a little after
0930 in the morning, just as Dimeu was working the inner edge of the bank, a fish smashed the Black Bart Oz Prowler fishing off the long right.
The explosion of white water behind us could not have been more impressive had someone lobbed a hand grenade into the sea, and as the 80lb class outfit started to scream loudly I leapt forward and repositioned the bent butt outfit from the gunwale to the fighting chair. There were four of us fishing, and purely by good fortune this was my designated rod!
That magnificent first run all but emptied the reel but eventually it slowed and I managed to gain some line, and such was the incredible speed of that run the crew thought that possibly I had foul hooked a small to medium size fish. Following her initial run she started to swim deep and as earlier we had seen a huge hammerhead swimming in the area I applied maximum drag and put everything I had into lifting her as soon as possible. Steadily I gained some line then after about 25 minutes the angle of the line started to change, indicating the fish was coming up to the surface.
This allowed me to recover even more line and eventually after some skilful boat handling by Calu our wireman, Mario Lopez, was able to grab the leader. At this point the fish showed herself properly for the first time: as if in slow motion she emerged through the inky blue water. First we saw her enormous bill, truly it was the size of a baseball bat, and this was followed by her immense blue shoulders, which in turn were followed by a monstrous great body that seemed to go on forever before she greyhounded away from the boat forcing Mario to dump the leader to the cries of “Grander”!
I now knew that without a doubt I was attached to the fish of my dreams, truly the fish of a lifetime, and as once again the fish ripped a huge amount of line from the reel, silently I prayed I wouldn’t lose her. 10 long minutes passed before Mario was able to reclaim the leader, but again the fish instantly tore free, and it was the forth or maybe fifth attempt before finally he was able to turn her immense bulk and start to gain some control.
Sat in the chair I was unable to see exactly what was happening on the port side of the boat, but apparently the ‘Oz Prowler’ was located deep inside the fishes mouth and already she was bleeding badly, so Calu gave the order that she was to be boated. I was at the same time both elated and devastated as even though I wanted to know her exact weight, never had I set out to kill such a magnificent fish. I can only say that over the years I have released well over 100 billfish, and ever since that day in the Cape Verde Islands whenever I think of that fish, which is often, my emotions go on a roller coaster ranging from elation to a deep sadness.
Back at the commercial fish dock the fish was accurately weighed on a certificated set of electronic scales, which recorded her at 506kg, that’s all but 1,120lb at time of capture; one of the biggest ever from Sao Vincente. I was able to gain some satisfaction when I saw her delivered to the local fish market where she was distributed to the local community.
The optimum time to fish in the Cape Verde Islands for blue marlin is from March through until June, and at the peak of the season catches of several fish released per day are common. A few years back one boat released an amazing 15 blue marlin in one day!