I don’t remember exactly when I first read Hemingway’s, The Old Man and the Sea. Third grade? That sounds about right as that’s when Dad was stationed in Vietnam, and we lived in Tennessee where my Grandfather took me fishing for bass, crappie, catfish, blue gill, whatever we could catch. About ten-years old at that time, it’s when a lifetime love of fishing began. While reading about Santiago catching his marlin in Hemingway’s classic, I distinctly remember thinking that one day, I too would catch a blue marlin.
Around that time, I discovered that Cabo San Lucas was supposed to be one of the places to go for marlin fishing. Must have read about it in National Geographic, or the encyclopedia that filled two shelves of the bookcase. Yeah, I was the kid that sat around reading the encyclopedia just for fun. Even today, almost fifty years later, I can still get sucked into the Wikipedia vortex and not get spit free for a few hours.
Anyway, point being that I’ve loved fishing for a long time, and wanted to catch the “ultimate sport fish,” widely recognized as the blue marlin, for an equally long time. There’s even record of this “bucket list” item on this very sites About Me page:
Catching a blue marlin (any marlin really but if you’re going big, go blue) has been a life-long dream. Earlier this year, when I was wallowing deep in self-pity for providing my esteemed employer with five-months notice of my retirement, AND it was the middle of shitty, gray, rainy season in Seattle, so I texted Francy and told her we were going to Cabo. We both love beach towns, neither of us had been to Cabo before, I needed to get the hell out of town, and though it wasn’t marlin season at the time, there’s always something biting in Cabo and the thought of offshore fishing there in the tropical sun sounded perfect. So we found an AirBNB, booked a flight, had our host set us up with a sport fishing charter and off we jetted to sunny Cabo San Lucas.
It was idyllic. Francy and I immediately fell in love with the town, the beaches, the people and the fishing. Mucho Loco Sport Fishing put us on some black tuna, yellow tail, and bonita. We boated 31 fish, and vowed to return during marlin season.
We returned a few months later, in early September. This time we took our son with us. It was the weekend before his 27th Birthday, and his first trip to Cabo, and first experience deep sea fishing.
Let’s Go Marlin Fishing!
It was raining on the morning of September 8, and for about 30 minutes, we weren’t sure if the harbor would be allowed to open for fishing charters to leave port. Fortunately, there was enough of a break in the weather and we left port around 7:00am.
The rain continued off and on throughout the morning, and the seas got a little choppy, but the weather wasn’t awful and the rain helped keep the blazing heat down.
We caught several Dorado, or Mahi Mahi throughout the morning. Fun to catch, and delicious to eat.
During a mid-day lull in the action, I retired to the boats head (bathroom) to, well, you know.
About the time my pants hit my ankles, I heard and felt the boats motor decelerate. That could only mean one thing; fish on!
I… finished… in the head and went on deck, only to see Francy in the fighting chair, with a pole bent double. She looked up at me and said, “I can’t do this. It’s too strong.” Martin, our deckhand, said with a grin, “Marlin! It’s a nice blue marlin.”
James took over for Francy and the battle ensued.
All my life I’ve wanted to catch a marlin, and now we’ve got one hooked. Yet at that moment in time, nothing made me happier than watching my son fight this fish. I mean really, what more could a man ask for than to be on a boat off Cabo, blue marlin on the line, and hauling that thing in with your kid? It was a perfect moment, and one I will never forget.
After about 20 minutes, James let his old man have his moment. I settled into the fighting chair and couldn’t believe how strong that fish was. I managed to get it close enough to the boat to see a flash of color just before the marlin ripped another run off the reel, putting us right back where we started. Exhausted, I handed the rod back to James.
It was a crazy, Old Man and the Sea moment. Like Santiago’s fish, our marlin also pulled the boat. At one point a shark fin popped up behind the marlin and we all thought a Hemingwayesque feeding frenzy was going to ensure. Thankfully the shark backed off.
James finally wrestled the beast alongside the boat. During the battle we had decided to release the fish, but it was bleeding, had a hook in one eye and would not have survived if released. So our amazing guides hoisted the marlin aboard and we headed back to port, thrilled, exhausted and grinning from ear to ear. We gave all the marlin meat to the locals, and the fish is now at a taxidermy shop. Soon Francy gets to figure out where to display a marlin that’s almost nine feet long (104 inches).
Bucket List ✅
Ever checked off your longest standing bucket list item? Let me tell you, it feels great! Doing it with the help of your son and wife makes it even more special.
Yeah, it’s just a fish. My guess is those that don’t fish, or at least appreciate the sport, won’t get it. But when you are 57-years old and doing something you’ve thought about since you were 10, it’s a pretty amazing memory. I’ll never forget this day.
Photo Credits: Top photo, yours truly. Bottom photo, Rafael, owner Mucho Loco fleet.