A group of Hong Kong-based hedge fund traders produced a "once-in-a-lifetime catch" when they landed a 505-pound blue marlin in an area in which they really had no business catching a blue marlin. That they used an unorthodox method to boat the fish just adds to the tale.
Fishing aboard the boat Warbird, the fishermen were 75 miles southeast of Hong Kong Island when they made a catch being hailed as possibly the biggest of the species ever caught in the South China Sea.
Kim Stuart of the Mandarin Sports Fishing Club told the South China Morning Postthat there hadn't been any reports of a blue marlin catch in local waters for at least 15 years.
"It's extremely rare," Stuart told the Post. "To be this far north is quite a way out of its normal range."
Dr. Julian Pepperell, author of "Fishes of the Open Ocean" and a billfish expert based in Australia, told the Post it was a once-in-a-lifetime catch, one that was all the more unusual because the fish was outside its favored habitat in cooler, less-deep waters.
Pepperell described blue marlin as "phenomenally powerful," adding that they are known for their incredible fighting ability and penchant for fighting until death.
That's what happened to this marlin after a 3 1/2-hour battle in which they covered six or seven miles chasing down the fish. With the marlin dying, it became dead weight 25-30 feet below the boat.
"The line was worn and we couldn't get her to the surface as we were sure it would snap," Brad Ainslie wrote in an email sent to GrindTV Outdoor by Capt. David Tuthill over the weekend. "If we waited much longer, we knew the sharks would be on her soon; mako sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks were in the area and would surely sense the dying marlin. We could not let this beautiful fish go to waste.
"Tut then decided to try something that I have never seen on the open water or have ever heard of anyone doing before: He threw on a mask, snorkel, and fins, grabbed a gaff and dove down to the fish and dragged the beast to the surface."
The Post’s report last week on the June 30 catch neglected to mention that exciting aspect of the story, or about how lively the 12-foot-long fish was during the battle.
According to Ainslie, when the marlin hit the trolled jig in the cleaner waters they found far offshore, it went ballistic, jumping 20 to 30 times off the back of the boat. Tuthill grabbed the rod and Ainslie took the steering wheel. Other fishermen onboard who played a role were Greg Moore, Andrew Bazarian, Dan Shepherd, and Carl Vine.
The fishing team typically releases all the marlin it catches, but this was the first time it had to keep a catch, going to extremes to do so.
"The only thing worse than killing a billfish, is killing a billfish and watching them sink, wasted," Tuthill told GrindTV in the email. "Marlin are great eating in the end, so if you do take one home, as we did, at least we fed a big portion of Hong Kong with that fish and kept a lot of the fish (bill, tail and top fin) for mounting, putting everything we could to good use."
Photos courtesy of David Tuthill.