Although I had spent the first 10 years of my life as a child living in Lae, I hadn’t been back since 1988. My recollection of Lae was a series of “moments in time” from my return trip as a 16 year old, and as a young child, rather than vivid memories.
Arriving in Lae, it was amazing how more meaningful memories came flooding back.
Day 4 of the trip saw us take a 40min boat trip with family friends Gary and Godfrey Wong to a small coastal holiday and fishing village called Salamaua. My cousin has a house there, and the plan was to spend the day at the beach and the house relaxing over lunch.
Now neither Chris nor I had fished for Marlin, so we were excited at the prospect.
After trolling around for a while, I realised that we know nothing about Bluewater fishing. To me, it seemed as though it was an aimless course we were taking, but Gary explained that he was heading for a a big reef system that rises out of a couple of hundred meters into 70-80m. Once we found the reef, we’d find the fish – and he wasn’t fibbing…
Watching the sounder, as we came onto the reef, large schools of bait “miraculously” appeared, and amongst the bait were the predators. Chris quickly hooked and landed a small Yellowfin Tuna, whilst Godfrey collected livebait that was quickly despatched into the depths.
10 or so minutes later, the livebait was nailed, and I was set to experience my first encounter with a beast initially called for a shark.
Now, bream fishing this was not! The first thing I realised is that I was never really in control. The fish easily took line as it pleased. Although we got the leader close to the boat 4 or 5 times, it really was a case of wishful thinking, as the fish took off back into the deep each time.
Well, you should have heard Godfrey’s excitement. “MARLIN! MARLIN! IT’S A BLACK MARLIN”! Not sure if he was yelling at me or at Chris or at Gary, or all of us together, but you could tell he was genuinely excited – we found out later, that black marlin are pretty rare in these waters.
Honestly, at the time all I was actually thinking was, “when is this thing going to give up“? It wasn’t until I sat down later that I realised that it had been yet another “first time” experience delivered on this trip.
The outcome? Well I’m not sure if it counts as a capture or not. I’m told different things by different people, but here’s what happened.
After about an hour, we got the fish boatside, and it was called for approximately 120kg. It was all hands on deck, with Gary at the helm, Godfrey had 2 wraps of the leader in hand, and Chris was about to tag the fish. Needless to say there was no rolling video camera, nor camera in hand… Here’s where it goes to show how powerful these fish are. In the blink of an eye it took a last ditch lunge, turning sideways, away from the boat, and it was gone…