(Continues from part 1)
It was a strong fish and the 50 lb (24kg) line was peeling off the Shimano Tiagra 50-Wide at an alarming rate. I was at the helm, Baraza was beside Alan advising him of what was happening whilst Cosmos prepared the tag-stick with a new tag and Rama held the flash-light pointed at the rod tip to give me an idea where the fish was dragging us and enable me to keep Alan pointing off the stern-quarter where he was firmly braced against the gunwale. The grey diesel fumes were stinging all our eyes as I constantly manoeuvred the boat to keep the line in the same position. It would have been nice to have been able to give the engines a really hard burst to clear the build-up of sooty deposits that build up after hours of trolling at idle but unfortunately it was just something we had to live with. After twenty minutes with very little line gained back from the fish Alan was calling for sips of cold water as sweat drenched his shirt. The fish had gone very deep and we actually wondered if it might be a big shark or perhaps a very large Yellow-fin Tuna. Then the angle of the line started to lessen as it came towards the surface and I was able to start gently reversing in the direction that Baraza pointed.
As the fight-time reached 55 minutes Alan joked that his contract didn’t allow for playing fish for more than one hour and he started to take his mind off the “burn” that is felt in your arms by discussing the wonderful stars above and the glow of marine invertebrates glowing in the sea. Large Cuttlefish about 500mm long, attracted to our lights caused a hazard to the line as they could possible cut us off with their sharp beaks and Baraza smacked the water with a gaff to frighten off some of those that were nearest the danger area. Alan continued with his water refreshment breaks every 15 minutes or so, pausing to get his breath, flex his aching muscles and prepare for a long time on the deck. After 70 minutes the glow of the fish was visible near the surface about 100 metres away and we reversed towards it with Alan winding as quickly as possible. The trace was tantalisingly close but as I changed from reverse, through idle and into forward motion to keep the line from going under the propellers the fish spooked and line again stripped from the reel as the fish dived deep. This became the trend as Alan sweated with the effort that was made relatively easy because of the calm sea, but difficult because of the strength of the fish. Eventually after two hours and nine minutes, with the boats engines in idle the trace was within grasping distance and Baraza and Cosmos held on as they tried to manoeuvre the fish into a position to get a tag in safely. I leaned over to watch the action as the Broadbill decided to switch sides of the boat and dragged both crewmen from one side to the other. The bill was enormous, about six inches across at the mouth and probably about five feet long, the body length looked longer than the span of my outstretched arms, with a deep-fat body, huge eyes and a tall dorsal fin and tail. This Broadbill was the largest that either Captain Baraza or I have seen in Kenyan waters and was probably in excess of 110 kilograms. Unfortunately for Alan, we failed to get a tag into it as the Mustad 12/0 J-hook opened slightly and the fish escaped back into the sparkling depths of the Sea Mountain. Phew, what a monster and congratulations to Alan for a superb fight on 24 kg tackle using excellent “Stand-up” technique.
We re-set the spread, chatted about big fish, records and 5:1s before the exhaustion caught up with Alan and he dozed off. Meanwhile, I had to increase the trolling speed as the 129 minute fight had dragged us north in the strong current and we ended up some 15 nm away from the Mlima and we desperately wanted to get back to the mountain and see if the Big-eye Tuna and other bait fish would appear at dawn and herald another good day’s fishing.
Captain Hamadi on Jasiri had watched our lights move away north but he was having problems understanding us on his radio and so was unaware that we had all succeeded in catching a Broady. Dawn didn’t really break as the horizon was blanketed in thick, grey, angry clouds that soared high into the atmosphere. These “Cu-Nimbs” were full of rain, lightning and peals of rolling thunder and everyone was aware that our stainless steel outriggers and carbon fibre rods might well be attractive conduits for the bolts of lightning and so we headed away from the approaching squalls. Several well-defined sea-spout/twisters developed between storm clouds and we were happy that the general wind was a light southerly and the sea state remained flat and oily!
Action started again with Dorados eagerly slashing at our lures and several good fish about 8 kg were boated. At 10.45 hours a Black Marlin knocked a strip-bait from the out-rigger at South 04 degrees 39.85 minutes East 39 degrees, 58.43 minutes but then abandoned that lure and locked onto a Williamson Rubber Bonito that was in the shot-gun position. Twice it seemed that it was hooked up as it stripped line from the Tiagra 80 Wide but then it was off and we discovered that the back half of the rubber lure had broken off just behind the hook. So much for catching several fish on one lure, this one became a casualty of the big fish we routinely catch in the Pemba Channel.
A couple of hours later we missed a Sailfish that crept up on a lure close to the boat and we also had strikes from a big Wahoo and two more Dorado. However, with the streaming current almost head-on we were going to get home well after 16.00 hours unless we upped our speed and cut over the channel into the slightly shallower water near Diani. Both Jasiri and ourselves decided to call off the fishing as we approached the green water near Funzi Island and the Orange and White flags were duly raised on the out-riggers to proclaim to all on yet another of our successful trips to the Shimoni Sea Mountain. Welcome Home!
P.S. My records are not fully up to date but the Kenyan Record I have on 24 kg for Broadbill Swordfish is a 76 kg fish caught by Russel Brumby and the All-tackle record is 116.5 kg caught by A. Van Collier so this fish, if killed and landed may well have eclipsed both these records – another plug for the sportsmanship of Alan Wright in wanting to tag and release big fish.