The big one
17 August 2013 | Madagascar
We were just relaxing after another great fresh fish lunch, when the lines started singing again. The usual rush of movement followed, Johannes runs for the singing line to put the break on, I slow the engines down, Joop pulls in the other line and Dirk jumps around shouting “fish! Fish! Fish!”!! Usually by that time, Lelei has been woken up, if she was asleep, and also demands attention.
This fish was pulling the rod so much that Joop took over from a complaining Johannes as he could sense this one was different. And so it was. The sailfish jumped out of the water, just to prove Joop’s thoughts. Much to the dismay of Johannes, he demanded the rod back to bring in this one. But this one was not going to be his son’s fish, it was going to be his! So Joop started reeling in, not in a hurry, taking it slowly, like they say in Malagasy “Mora mora”. The fish played with him, swimming further and closer, then on the side, then underneath the yacht, forcing Joop to give some more line again and run to the front of the yacht round to the other side. And then reel in again. And so the fish kept him, and all 4 of us, busy for more than an hour. At some point the fish was right next to the yacht and we could clearly see the purple colours. It had neon blue-purple stripes on the sides and the large dorsal fin was the same dazzling neon blue-purple colour. But suddenly when it was so close, it was the size of this specimen that caused us all four to silence. It was approximately 2.4m in length (measured from photos afterwards)!
After the moment of awe, Joop said out loud what was also in my thoughts, “It is such a beautiful animal!” and “HOW are we going to get this one onboard?” While he was playing with the fish, the boys and I lowered the dingy from where it was hoisted at the back of the yacht and tied it to the side, way in front to be out of the way when we handle the fish at the back as our wooden platform is quite small.
During the process of getting it closer, I asked Joop with a calm and collected voice if he is sure he needs to kill this animal as the freezer is actually full, and this one is quite big and I’m a bit worried about that long, fast, sharp beak and the small wooden platform we have to operate on and is sailfish really nice to eat, and various other motivations I had to NOT kill this one, as the beauty of this animal kept on amazing me. He did not sound convinced that that would be the case, but did not give me a definite answer. Finally, after a long and hard fight, the pointy beak was on the pontoon, when he answered, “No, we can’t kill it, its just too beautiful and too big for us for now”.
I gave a silent sigh of relief and saw it glide off the pontoon into the deep blue water.