The top story so far during the week-long Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament is the enormous marlin that got away, but not before a wild struggle that included an attack on the press boat, providing the event photographer with the photo opportunity of a lifetime.
It was late afternoon and tournament action had slowed. Schwartz, according to his blog, “was sacked out on the couch, my four cameras strewn across the floor of the salon,” when he awoke to the sound of line screaming from the reel.
“We’d been pulling those things for the past two days with no hits, and I basically forgot they were there,” he wrote, in reference to the lures.
What he thought might be a tuna turned out to be a Pacific blue marlin estimated to weigh more than 550 pounds. It leaped and started “careening through the air in every conceivable direction, throwing massive walls of water with every move of its huge tail, and leaving car-size holes in the water when it came crashing down,” Schwartz recalled.
Crewman K.J. Robinson had taken the rod and was fighting the billfish. Schwartz clutched his cameras and ran out and began to shoot.
Not long afterward, the marlin charged the boat. “Now mind you, I am watching all of this through my 300-millimeter telephoto lens. I was so focused on getting the shot that I probably lost sense of what was really happening in terms of how the fish was behaving,” Schwartz wrote.
The photo at the top of this post was the last image Schwartz captured before impact. The marlin slammed with a thud into the side of the boat, but sped off and continued to fight for its freedom.
Robinson, however, seemed close to winning the battle 20 minutes later. He had reeled the magnificent fish close enough to yell for the tagging stick, so the marlin could be tagged and released. But just then the line went slack. Robinson reeled in the lure and found that the hook had broken under the weight of the struggle.
The fight was over, but Schwartz had chronicled an episode that astonished even longtime HIBT veterans who were nearby in other boats.
“Many of them have been fishing for giant marlin their whole lives and said that they had never seen anything like it, and they’d never seen a fish act like that or move that fast,” Schwartz wrote. “They also said they were worried about the guys in the boat!”
– Images are courtesy of Jon Schwartz and protected by copyright laws. Schwartz requests that people wishing to publish his work contact him through his website.
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