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THE BIG MARLIN AT GALLAGHER’S
MARLIN fishing is most interesting, for as a rule you see the action of the fish on the surface as he approaches and takes the bait.
One of the charms of salmon fishing is that one may often stalk, coax, and finally capture an individual fish. This is also sometimes possible when fishing for marlin. It is a question of matching your wits and your skill against the natural cleverness of the fish. No two fish fight just alike, so that you must adapt your tactics to the fighting strategy of the individual fish.
We had all been fishing for marlin for some days with poor luck. Twenty-two launches had been trolling back and forth from Seal Rocks to San Diego Bank, as if in the wide Pacific Ocean no marlin could be found except in that restricted stretch of sea.
An average of two fish a day for twenty-two boats is not great fishing.
I had taken three good fish in four days, yet was not satisfied with the result of my labours and decided to hunt for fish instead of having them hunt for me.
One day after luncheon I told my boatman to go to Gallagher’s for a try. Gallagher’s is a cove at the mouth of a small cañon and in the cañon there is a dismantled house once occupied by one Gallagher, a fisherman.
This indentation is out of the tideway and we found its waters alive with bait. We had hardly entered the cove when we saw the large dorsal fin of a marlin that was lying close in to the edge of the kelp comfortably sunning himself. As we approached he sank.
After trolling about for a time with no result, I told the boatman not to bother to look for the fish for, judging from the amount of food that was about, the marlin must have satisfied his hunger. I felt that he would remain where food was so plentiful, and the moon being young and the nights dark, the early morning would be the time to find the fish hungry.
The following morning at seven-thirty, we were bound for Gallagher’s. We had trolled about the cove but a few moments when a large marlin side-wiped my bait leaving only the head of the flying-fish on the hook as a token of his fencing ability.
He must have been a pricked fish with a good memory, for, although we baited up with a fresh flying-fish, no amount of coaxing had any results. As a rule, fish as hungry as he appeared to be, return for more food.
The next morning we were back at Gallagher’s. We had hardly entered the cove when I saw the giant fish, showing his dorsal fin and tail, coming on the surface at railroad speed, and shouted: “Here he comes.”
He bit the bait and the line ran out. I gave him one hundred feet or more of line and then struck—solid! The fight began!
The fish jumped but once, a beautiful clean jump of twenty feet before landing with a splash. As he jumped the bait came up the line and I then knew that he had hit the bait with his sword and had become foul-hooked trying to follow it.
He was a heavy fish and fought hard as they always do when they do not exhaust themselves by continuous lofty jumping.
I landed him after ninety minutes of very hard work and found that he was foul-hooked just below the pectoral fin on the right side.
He had struck when traveling too fast, had driven the bait up the line and turning to get it had hooked himself in the side.
I had passed the greater part of two mornings in an endeavor to outwit this fish and had been rewarded for my labour. That is what I call good fishing. The fish weighed 222½ pounds.
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