Blue Water Hunting and Freediving - Digital Version 1 - Page 165

marlin Masterfully playing his reel, Tony balanced the strength of the fish’s fight against his 210-pound test line. Early into the fight, it towed him 70 feet underwater in less than 10 seconds. Having no floats, he knew releasing his gun would end the day. Remembering his discussion with his friends, he followed his plan and kept constant tension on the line. He knew if the line went slack, this meant either that the fish was lost, or worse, it was circling back for an attack on him. The fight lasted 45 minutes and covered three quarters of Plettenberg Bay. “I swam in the opposite direction to keep him working,” he wrote. “I played him like this until I had swum myself to a standstill.” The big fish swam back into shallow w ­ ater, slowed and eventually came to the surface, belly up. Tony had played the fish until it drowned. The divers towed the fish to the l ­ ocal pier where the hoist just cleared its 9-foot body from the sand. Tony was an i ­ nstant hero as word of his catch spread and people gathered to view it. Brad Neilson holds the record for the largest marlin taken by spear—a black marlin taken in South Africa: I was spearfishing at Lighthouse Reef, Mapelane, on the East Coast of South Africa May 29, 1999. My buddies were Jimmy Uys (Jimmy held the previous record) and Koos Jordaan with Frans Botes acting as topman. We were diving from Jimmy’s boat and the visibility was about 6 meters. On our third drift, Jimmy shouted for help—a zambezi shark was attacking a fish he’d just speared. While I was swimming toward him, he shouted again saying he thought there was a marlin below him, apparently also attacking his speared mackerel. Apprehensively, I dove down and saw a huge marlin tackling Jimmy’s fish. The marlin turned to face me and then swam off. I gave chase, waiting for it to give me a clear shot. When it finally gave me a broadside, I speared it just behind the left gill plate. My spear did not exit on the other side. I let my gun go, playing my buoy-line. When most of my line was out, I wrapped some around my forearm. For over 2 hours, the fish dragged me in huge circles, but I managed to keep it in relatively shallow water. I was dragged about 5 km with Jimmy and Frans following in the boat. By this time I didn’t have much strength left. I just couldn’t seem to be able to haul the fish to the surface. The fish had swam almost into the surf-line when I called for a second gun, which Jimmy threw to me from a safe distance—he was nervous to bring his boat into the surf! I hardly had enough energy to load this gun, but finally managed. I tried to place the second shot into the head, but I was too exhausted to swim up as far as the head, as the fish was still swimming strongly. Eventually, I placed the shot into the back. This took most of the fight out of the fish. I rested a bit and then after hauling the fish to the surface, swam it out of the surf-line into safer water. In the process of finishing the marlin off with my dive knife, it managed to whack me on the shoulder with its bill. We had to wait about 30 minutes for Koos to swim to the boat—the others had left him behind to follow me. As the boat listed dangerously, between the four of us, we eventually managed to haul the fish aboard Brad Neilson standing proudly with his black marlin record. 159