By Al Jordan
Thursday, October 11, 2001
At 1:00 P.M., we left for the Orlando Airport. Barbara and I stopped
by Frank and Peg's house to pick up Frank prior to going to get
Chuck. Our flight was at 4:15 P.M. and because of the increased
security at the airport, we wanted to arrive early. Matt was driving
from Birmingham to Atlanta, where his Delta flight was departing.
We were going to rendezvous at Los Angeles airport and depart for
Sydney, Australia at 10:15 P.M. that evening.
Frank, Chuck, and I got to the airport at 1:25 P.M. and got through
security. By 2:30, we were in the bar. We departed on Delta flight
333, a 777 aircraft. We arrived in Los Angeles at 6:12 P.M. It was
a five-hour flight and of course, we gained 3 hours due to the time
change. After arriving in Los Angeles we proceeded directly to Air
New Zealand to check in for our flight to Sydney, Australia. At
7:40, we arrived at the Air New Zealand 1st class lounge where we
waited for Matt to arrive. We departed for Sydney at 10:15 P.M.
Oct. 11, 2001 on Air New Zealand, Flight 15, a 747 aircraft. The
flight had a scheduled in air time of 14 hours and 5 minutes.
Saturday, October 13, 2001
We arrived in Sydney at 6:15 A.M. local time on October 13, 2001.
We departed Sydney at 9:00 A.M. and arrived in Cairnes at 11:55
local. At this point, we had been traveling for 30 hours and 30
minutes. It was great to get to the Radisson Dockside Hotel in Cairnes
at 12:30 local. We went to our rooms and then checked on our boat,
The Iceman. In Cairnes, they were having the Reef Festival the entire
Sunday, October 14, 2001
On Sunday morning, October 14, Frank and I went down to the restaurant
and had breakfast. We went to the dock and met our captain. We have
a crew of 4-the Captain, Bob Jones; our cook, Julie Handy, and the
mates, Sharkey (Chris Miles) and Brad Ferguson. The plan for the
day is to go NW approximately 40 miles out and start fishing. We
would be fishing near the Great Barrier Reef and docking the boat
there for the next six nights. The best time to get a big Marlin
is between 3:00 & 6:00 P.M.
Bob Jones did not disappoint us. At 3:05 P.M., while trolling, a
big Marlin struck our closest bait. It immediately went airborne,
perpendicular to the boat. Due to the fact that Chuck and Matt were
both sleeping, I took the game fishing chair and the crew strapped
the rod and reel into the chair. Capt. Jones had the crew reel in
the other lines. At least 2 minutes passed the whole time the Marlin
was taking out line.
When the lines were secured in the boat, Capt. Bob Jones reversed
course and started backing to the Marlin. I kept reeling till I
felt like my arm was falling off. I was able to reel to the leader
and Sharkey, the 1st mate, wrapped the leader around his hand. At
that moment, the fish went airborne and Sharkey was able to release
the leader. The huge fish took out line again and Capt. Jones continued
to back down on the Marlin. Again and again, the fish went airborne.
Sharkey grabbed the leader again and the Marlin went airborne again.
Sharkey was able to wrap the leader a second time and release the
fish. The weight was estimated at 300 lbs.
Monday, October 15, 2001
We awoke at 6:00 A.M. had cereal and pancakes for breakfast. Capt.
Bob Jones repositioned the boat to another part of the reef and
we went snorkeling for an hour or so. The water was extremely clear
and refreshing. At 10:00 A.M. we started trolling for baitfish.
We caught 5 Bonitas that weighed up to 20 lbs. and started trolling
with live Bonitas. We had one strike, but missed the fish.
At 4:00 P.M., while trolling a live Bonita, Capt. Bob Jones had
another Marlin. It was a ferocious strike. The Marlin headed straight
down with the bait while the mates reeled in the other lines. Chuck
was in the game fighting chair. Capt. Jones took off as fast as
he could and Chuck started reeling the monster in. The fish came
within 15 feet of the surface and we all saw the giant shadow before
it went straight down taking out all the line Chuck had gained back.
The huge fish veered to the right, jumped completely out of the
water and Capt. Jones moved the boat forward. The Giant began stripping
line again, and jumped at least 3 feet high, completely out of the
water and then veered left and went toward the front of the boat.
Chuck was still reeling as fast as he could, moving forward and
using his leg strength to pull back. At one point, Chuck was leaning
forward and it appeared the fish was going to pull him in before
the mate grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him back into the
seat. The fish made another run and leaped completely out of the
water. We got great pictures. It was a totally awesome sight to
see the size of the fish completely airborne. The first mate reached
for the leader when the fish was in close proximity. The catch was
made and he cut the leader, but still held on to it. The fish almost
pulled him in. The estimated weight of the Marlin was 440 lbs.
Tuesday, October 16, 2001
We woke before daylight, had breakfast, and went hand lining for
Coral Trout. We caught 3 trout and then headed for the Black Marlin.
at 1:30, while trolling with a live mackerel, we saw a giant Hammerhead
Shark swim by our live bait; he circled around and took the bait.
The fight was on! Matt fought the Hammerhead Shark for at least
30 minutes before we gaffed it at the boat. It was a huge fish that
put up an exceptional battle. At 2:10, while trolling with a live
Bonita and a Mackerel. We got a hit on the Mackerel; the Marlin
took all the baitfish but the head. Matt was in the fighting chair.
We brought the line in and quickly put on another Mackerel while
Capt. Jones turned the boat around. The Black Marlin darted to the
new bait and took it. The fight was on!
Capt. Jones started backing to the fish; Matt was reeling in the
whole time. The huge fish jumped out of the water at least 10 times.
When it first hit, it jumped twice, going directly from the boat,
and then twice more it veered off to the right, then it went deep
and and skipped 10 feet in the air twice in succession. It again
veered to the right, jumping twice more, completely out of the water,
it again went deep and skyrocketed directly behind the boat. Matt
kept constant pressure on the huge fish. The Marlin then veered
to the left once again, coming out of the water. The mate grabbed
the leader and cut the fish loose at the left side of the boat.
It was a great fish and a great fight. we all got excellent pictures
and all joined in the excitement. This Marlin weighed 460 lbs.
At 4:15, while I was in the fighting chair, the second Marlin of
the day hit our live mackerel. The mates brought in the other lines
and the Black Marlin raced away with the bait. Capt. Jones took
off to set the hook and the fight was on. The Marlin's estimated
weight was 330 lbs. We went the rest of the day without another
strike. We have been fishing for three days and had 4 marlin. That
night, Captain decided that we were going to go 40 miles farther
out, due east, and then fish to the north. Capt Jones said there
were a lot of Giant Marlin in that area.
Wednesday, October 17, 2001
It took us 4 hours to get to the fishing area. We trolled all the
way there and continued to troll with Mackerel. Chuck was in the
fighting chair at 12:30 P.M. a giant Black Marlin hit our skip bait,
it came out of the water and then went deep. The mates quickly pulled
the other lines and the fight was on! Capt. Jones started backing
down on the fish, but this Marlin reacted completely different than
the 400 lb. Marlin we had caught the previous day. It went deep
and stayed directly under the boat, ripping line off the reel at
an unbelievable pace. Capt Jones had to keep moving the boat away
from the fish. We all knew this Marlin was the largest one we had
caught or seen. Chuck kept trying to regain line, but the fish kept
taking line out.
After twenty minutes into the battle, Chuck started gaining line,
although he was exhausted, he continued to persevere. At that moment,
the huge Marlin surfaced and we could not believe the size of this
fish. Its upper body came out of the water and there was no doubt
this was a Grander. The huge Marlin again started straight down,
ripping over a hundred yards of line off the reel. Although Chuck
was exhausted, he continued to apply pressure on this huge Marlin.
little by little, Chuck was winning the battle. The Marlin continued
to stay deep, Chuck continued to to gain the advantage to the point
where the mate grabbed the leader. At this point, the huge fish
jumped completely out of the water. It was almost a shock to see
how huge this fish was. It jumped a second time and the mate cut
the line. This fish was estimated to be over 1150 lbs.
There is no bigger trophy than to catch a Marlin over 1000 lbs.,
but Chuck did it! Congratulations! Frank threw 25 cents into the
ocean for good luck on the next fish. Thirty minutes later, another
Marlin was on, Matt was in the fighting chair. All lines were brought
in. This Marlin stayed deep and took out several hundred yards of
line. we all knew this was a huge fish. Matt fought the fish for
15 minutes before it surfaced 120 yards behind the boat. This fish
was definitely over 1000 lbs., and Capt Jones started backing to
the fish. Matt started gaining line, then the fish went even deeper,
stripping line off the reel. Again Matt started regaining more line.
Capt Jones had the boat in reverse.
It was filling up with water. Everyone was excited and running around
trying to facilitate the catch, suddenly the fish veered left and
you could see the large shadow coming to the top. It suddenly jumped
completely out of the water and jumped a second time. The mates
had the leader and cut the fish away. A once in a lifetime fish
and the weight was estimated at 1250 lbs. Congratulations Matt!
At 2:15, another Marlin hit. I was in the chair. It struck a mackerel
and immediately went airborne, sailing high through the air. The
mates brought in the lines, Capt Jones started off to insure a good
hook set and the fight was on! The Marlin jumped three times in
succession as Capt. Jones backed the boat down to the fish. I kept
constant pressure on the fish and reeled down as fast as I could.
The fish suddenly went skyward and jumped three more times in succession.
I reeled down on the fish, the mate grabbed on to the leader. The
fish leaped again as the mate cut the leader. The Marlin was estimated
at 350 lbs. The crew quickly put out new bait and we were ready
for our 4th marlin of the day. At 3:45, 4:30 and 5:15 we had strikes
but the marlin did not hook up.
At 5:35 while trolling a mackerel we got another strike. This time
the fish was on, the 4th of the day. The mates brought in the other
baits, Chuck was in the chair, and capt ones gunned the boat forward
to get a good hook set. The Marlin immediately leapt 4 feet into
the air, perpendicular to the boat and began stripping line. It
surfaced again to the right, and jetted straight down behind the
boat, stripping line as it went. Chuck was reeling the entire time;
Capt. Jones kept backing to the fish. Chuck kept pressure on the
fish and then it darted to the left striking the boat on the port
side, and veered back toward the mate. He jumped back, barely escaping
the fish. The Marlin went straight down, Chuck kept pressure on
the fish, the mate grabbed the leader, and the Marlin bolted to
the right and then left. The first mate cut the leader and the Marlin
seemed dazed and was on its back. The mate tried to turn the huge
fish over. It finally swam off, exhausted from the fight. It was
a great fight! The Marlin was estimated at 250 lbs.
Thursday, October 18, 2001
It was a rough night. We were 40 miles out from the reef in 2500
ft of water. There was no chance of trying to anchor so we drifted
all night. We were in 20-mph winds and drifted over 9 miles by morning
and that was against the current. Needless to say, it was a rough
sleeping night. Chuck said he didn't sleep at all, Matt said he
got very little sleep, and Frank and I got some sleep. At 6:45 A.M.
this morning, we started trolling with mackerel for Black Marlin.
We got two hits that produced no fish, then at 3:00 P.M. a Marlin
was on; Matt was in the fighting chair. The Marlin stayed deep the
entire time, it never jumped. Matt fought the fish for 25 minutes
before he got it in. The Marlin was foul hooked on the right side
just below the dorsal fin. A 12-foot shark was circling the Marlin;
the mate grabbed the leader and tried to revive the fish. It took
5 minutes to get the Marlin where he could release it. The shark
continued circling the boat the entire time. The Marlin was able
to swim away. Its estimated weight was 200 lbs. It was our 9th Marlin
and our 5th day at sea. Friday, October 19, 2001 We woke at 6:45
A.M. and had breakfast and then went snorkeling on a reef that was
a mile away. Matt dove 15 feet down to get Barbara some sand for
Speaking for Barbara, what a lucky man I am. She is the greatest.
The water is crystal clear on the reef. We saw several species of
fish that had unbelievable colors. At 10:30 A.M. we went fishing.
We were looking for our 10th Marlin. After trolling for an hour,
we missed a fish. At 11:30, we got our 10th Marlin on. I was in
the fighting chair. The Marlin jumped immediately and then dove
deep. It was estimated at 150 lbs. but was putting up a good fight.
Suddenly, it veered right, then left. Capt. Jones had the boat in
reverse. I continued to gain line. The mate grabbed the leader and
it was over. Chuck is up next. We caught a 15 lb. Yellow-Fin Tuna,
the best bait you can use. We started trolling with the tuna. Frank
was holding the line with his hand. When you feel the Marlin hit
the tuna, you release the line and let more line out then you gun
the boat forward at the same time you crank as hard as you can to
set the hook as deep as you can. After trolling for an hour, we
got a hit on the tuna, Frank released the line and the marlin ran
with the bait for over 50 yards. Capt. Bob Jones gunned the boat
forward and Frank reeled as hard as he could. The Marlin hit our
slap bait and went straight down. We let it run for 30 or 40 seconds.
Capt. Bob Jones gunned the boat forward. The first mate reeled as
hard as he could. Again the Marlin had eaten half the slap bait,
which was a 20 lb. tuna. It is now 4:10 P.M. We are looking for
our 11th marlin. The day ended with only one Marlin.
We got back to the Great Barrier Reef and were invited to a cocktail
party on the mother ship, Balile High (hosted by Peter B. Wright,
who is a renowned Marlin fisherman and is said to have caught more
Marlin over 1000 lbs. than any man alive.) Saturday, October 20,
2001 We will be fishing towards Cairnes. At 10:00 A.M., while trolling
lures, we had a giant Marlin surface on one of our lures. You could
see the bill of the fish out of the water. The Marlin was trying
to line itself up to attack the bait. It then disappeared for a
moment and then came back. You could see the bill again. You could
tell it was a huge Marlin. It disappeared a second time and then
reappeared again and lined up directly behind the lure. The big
Marlin crushed the lure and went straight down. The mates reeled
in the other two lines. Matt was in the fighting chair. The Marlin
was ripping line off the reel. The captain was backing down on the
Marlin till the fish was directly under the boat. The back of the
boat was flooded as the water kept coming in while the boat was
in reverse. Again, the fish was directly under the boat and Matt
was gaining line. The fish started stripping line a third time.
We could only watch as the huge Marlin gained back all the line
for the third time and more. Matt could do nothing but watch helplessly
as the line was being stripped off the reel. For the 3rd time, Capt.
Bob Jones put the boat in reverse. Matt kept reeling; the rear of
the boat was filling up with water. We got back all the line for
the 4th time and we could see the Giant beneath the boat.
To our surprise, there was a second Marlin following the hooked
Marlin. The sheer size of the Marlin we had on was unbelievable.
I could see the fish about 20 to 30 feet down. It was definitely
a Grander. The Marlin veered left, then right, and for the 5th time,
the giant Marlin was stripping line off the reel. Matt lost all
the line he had gained. Matt was worn out, perspiring, deflated;
There was nothing he could do but watch the line being stripped
away. Bob started backing down on the fish for the 5th time. Again,
water was coming into the boat. Matt was digging down deep, trying
to gain back the line and he did. The huge Marlin was now directly
under the boat. Matt was gaining line and suddenly the huge Marlin
surfaced. It was a giant! The mate cut the leader and the Marlin
sank back into the deep blue water. Capt. Jones estimated the fish
was over 1250 lbs. We are now trolling for our 12th Marlin, drinking
bourbon, and smoking cigars.
We started looking at the video and for the second Grander Matt
had on the line, I missed the picture of the Marlin. Thank God Chuck
got it on film. It was truly a magnificent fish. We continued to
fish the rest of the day without a strike. Reflecting on the 7 days
at sea in search of the Mighty Marlin, on the Great Barrier Reef
in Australia, we caught 11 Black Marlin that averaged almost 570
lbs. each. We caught at least one Marlin every day. Our best day
was Wed., Oct. 17th. We caught 4 Marlin. Our overall catch was estimated
at 6140 lbs.
The most exciting part of the trip was catching the three Granders.
We caught two within 30 minutes of each other. Capt. Jones has been
fishing for 18 years and had never caught 3 Granders on the same
trip. I think it was the absolute good luck that Frank Crider has
when he goes fishing or hunting. We felt good about releasing all
the Marlin and not killing a Grander, just to see it weighted. It
was a great trip. The boat, the captain, and crew were 1st class.
The fishing was excellent and we have memories that will last us