Marlin vs. Man: My best fishing tales

Fishermen coming back from trips with stories have got a bit of a reputation for exaggeration. I’ve heard some stories which play out like the battle between Captain Ahab and Moby Dick, and so many references to giant fish lurking in ponds for decades that you’d think there was an epidemic. But every self respecting fisherman has a great yarn to tell about the one that got away or a great struggle between man and fish, it’s part of the fishing culture.

Naturally I’ve had a few highlights and I’m not to shy to share then here, but the disclaimer is that I tell them like we’re in the pub after a few at the end of a long day on the water. That’s when the day's events start to take on a larger than life theatricality.

I like to fish for troutNothing tastes better than a trout you have caught yourself, and though fairly common they can be tricky to catch, especially if you’re going after a Seatrout, one of those strange creatures who grow up with the Browns then becomes more like a Salmon until they floats down to the estuaries and come back up river to spawn. Seatrout don’t feed when they’re spawning up river, which is what makes than such a challenge, you need to convince them to take the bait, but they’re not looking for food. One evening I was out on a river I won’t specify, when I spotted a beautiful big seatrout, they’ve got smooth eel like faces and this one was insolent. These guys only live a few seasons but this specimen was too big and sleek, he was a bit of a terror, going after the others, but now the hunter was to become the hunted. I tempted and flirted with him using a moth fly, then a few different lures. I could see him all the while, cruising calmly, as if I’d be able to reach in and get him with my hands. This was one of those fish who mock you. My companion was chasing a catch and we got distracted by that but who should come up behind the fated fish on the end of the line but my big Seatrout. He was mocking me, and the fish that wriggled and struggled…he was evil and had to be stopped. We chased him for two hours, he, mostly cruising the perimeter of his grounds, us stalking him, watching him, waiting to see what he was interested in…and then it hit me. He was a nasty one, competitive with his own kind, so we strung up the end of his mate’s tail and used that to get him interested, you could see him thinking ‘What’s this? where’s this bit of tail coming from?’ before moving in too close to have a look and with one deft tug I had him.

Well he fought, but nothing like the time I was off shore fishing for the lion of the game fishing world, Marlin. The big blue lasses are firm and sleek as they cruise the ocean waters, in this case the waters off Portugal, and there are hundreds of guys out fishing for them. The Marlin vs. Man fight I’m referring to happened over the course of an hour, and like Moby Dick I broke her down inch by inch. We got her interested with an artificial lure, one that popped a bubble trail close to the surface. We were out early and so was she, she was the first tug of the day, and she came from nowhere and went to swallow then had second thoughts… She backed off for a better look at her prey and I bounced the lure around in what I hoped was the realistic way for a bright orange plastic fish to act. And she bought it, gulped it down... and then it was on. She was a fighter, bumping against the boat and at one point even diving under it. When we finally got her up she was 250lbs, by far the biggest thing I’ve ever caught, and beautiful to boot.

But not as beautiful as sitting on a calm loch in the morning mist sipping your whiskey infused coffee from the thermos. As the mist rises it’s pierced by the rays of sun and the water gleams. Good company, a peaceful vista, and frankly some days it doesn’t matter if you walk away with nothing more than a few tiddlers to show for yourself. That’s the kind of fishing story you don’t hear down the pub but it’s one of the reasons I go out as many weekends as I can.

Most people live near some fishing grounds or another but if you’re going further a field for the first time I can’t recommend a local guide enough. These guys will not only help you to a good days fishing they’ll also have a few fisherman’s tales of their own to tell.

More great fishing tales

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