Today, Tuesday 8th March 2011 Christo Wentzel from South Africa fishing with Pat on Broadbill landed the first swordfish ever taken in daylight in the Pemba Channel. It weighed in at 155.1-kg (342-lb) after having been mutilated by pilot whales.
For Pat now aged over 80 years and still fishing this was something that he really wanted to achieve so when Albertus van Brakel, Jonathan Goetsch and Christo Wentzel said that they would like to try he was very happy. They motored out this morning to the deep part of the Pemba Channel and slowly set about putting the line down nearly 2,000 feet to the bottom. It cannot of been easy drifting with the unknown whilst listening to White Otter catch marlin. The temptation must have been so strong to pack it in and go after the marlin so well done them for sticking at it.
Just before 1pm they decided to call it a day after 3 hours drifting and were just starting to retrieve the bait when a huge broadbill swordfish took and Christo was in to the fight of his life. From the outset they could tell that it was a big fish and they just hoped that it was what they were looking for. The brake on the Shimano Tiagra was virtually sunsetted and Christo was more out of the chair than it. At 2pm Pat reported that they were still in to it and that it was very strong. After 2 hours they finally got it on to the leader but a pod of pilot whales had arrived on the scene and began attacking the broadbill. The hook came out and the damaged fish floated to the surface where the crew gaffed it and tried to fend off the whales who were still attacking it. Pat said that the whales were coming from underneath the boat and taking chunks out of the head mostly. They appeared set on attacking the broadbill’s eyes and the head was almost completely eaten away with the massive spear left hanging loose. The stomach was left hanging inverted outside of the fish so difficult to know how much was lost. They were unable t0 pull it in to the boat so they had to secure it to the transom and try as fast as possible drag it away from the whales who continued to attack. They were still 19 nautical miles out but finally they got clear of the whales.
This story invokes memories of the great Ernest Hemingway story of the “Old Man and the Sea”. Never before have I heard of pilot whales attacking fish on the line or at the boat. Must have been an incredible sight.
Fishing this week has been pretty good here after a slow start with quite a few marlin and sail caught. The wind has been nicely in the right direction, NE the water that wonderful deep blue colour that the Pemba Channel is so well known for.
Saturday 5th March - White Otter was the only boat out they saw a marlin jump and missed a couple of sail but didn’t get anything. There was a report that they had lost a black marlin also during the day but that was not confirmed.
Sunday 6th March - flat calm with virtually no wind but White Otter did manage to tag a stripey early on before 9am. Kamara II had a strike from a stripey on a big konahead but failed to hook it. There were also a few sail strikes but on the whole a very quiet day.
Monday 7th March - Again just Kamara II and White Otter out, the latter only doing a 6-hr trip. Albertus van Brakel on Kamara II tagged a nice stripey of about 145-lb on 50 and then White Otter tagged a stripey and a sail. On the way home Jonathan Goetsch also on Kamara II caught his first marlin a very feisty blue marlin of about 190-lb on 50-lb line. The dorados have also arrived in huge numbers so throughout the day these beautiful fish were always keeping anglers and crew on their toes.
Tuesday 8th March - along with that incredible swordfish White Otter fishing conventionally tagged 2 striped marlin and a sailfish. I had to sit on shore and listen to all the excitement, not good for my nerves!