Monday, June 8, 2009

Sam's Cup Bill Fishing Tournament 2009

[sorry, this post is way long but i don't have time to edit it down because i'm on a school computer and I have to go home now...]

Leaving the Zamami harbor at 1pm on Friday while everybody else was at work and school felt pretty great. It's nice to have a day off anytime, but when a fishing tournament is the reason, there is nothing better. We arrived in Ginowan (30 min. north of Naha) just before 3pm, leaving a couple hours to kill before leaving for the party at 5:30pm. I thought we would go shopping, but instead we just hung around then went to a fast food restaurant. Eating before going to dinner wasn't logical for me, so I only had something little.

The party was a party. Lots of good food, very little in scheduled activities. I wandered around and talked to foreigners I've met through fishing, and met other people who knew me from winning last year. It's amazing the 'cred' I have by coming from the winning boat.

We returned to the marina at 9:30pm. Everybody wanted to stay at a hotel/pension, which again didn't make much sense to me. We were leaving at 6am the next morning, which meant being at the boat at 5am. So instead of paying for a hotel and the transportation, I opted to stay on the boat. And since I can sleep anywhere, this could have turned out to be a good decision. Except it was hot. And I needed to crack a window (port hole). And then a mosquito got in. And drove me insane. I couldn't find him with the flashlight so I had to drag him to another room then close the door on him. I repeated this 4-5 times throughout the night, netting maybe four hours of sleep. Ugh.

[Ginowan Marina - every boat that is not a sailboat was participating in the tournament; our boat is front and center]

At 6am the 30 boats participating in the tournament gathered outside the harbor and took off together in a shotgun start.

[The shotgun start]

We arrived at our fishing grounds at 7:30am and set the lines. Nothing much happened until 9:25 when a marlin hit briefly. We sped up and played with him until he struck harder on the right flat (no outrigger) pole and hooked himself well. Miki, a 'seasonal' worker from Saitama who has been on Zamami as long as me, fought the fish. She did really well, though struggled near the end because it just takes so much muscle. There were at least 8 other boats patrolling the same waters and it didn't take long for them to see we had a fish on. Another boat circled in close and picked up another marlin (they apparently often travel in pairs). We could see theirs jumping while ours was still taking line out, then ours began jumping off their bow and they had to change course.

[Miki digging deep]

[Yukibo providing support and giving directions as the fight nears its end]

My record as first spearer is yet untarnished, so I continue to hold that position when it comes to the boat work at the end of a marlin fight. This marlin would not come to the boat easily, though, making many short runs during the approach. Eventually we got him pretty close and I made the farthest spear attempt I've tried yet and it was dead-on through the gills. I brought him up with the rope attached to my spear point, then grabbed a gaff and gave it to Yukibo to bury in the gills.

[Nice first marlin, good start]
We picked up a nice (13kg) wahoo a few hours later, then hooked another marlin around 1pm. He took a bunch of line out then, as I was getting the last of the rod/reels stored away in the cabin, he got off. Not a huge loss because he was small (~50kg), but the small ones still count toward the overall weight category.
We headed back to Zamami at 6:30pm and got there at 7:30. We had a meeting at 9pm to discuss the next day's plans. The meeting was at Yukibo's restaurant, which was packed with fishermen. So packed they were turning groups away. And so busy that the two girls who were fishing with us all day (on the boat for 14 hours) went straight to work from fishing. No showers, no changing of clothes.
Our 'meeting' went much longer than I'd hoped. It wasn't 10:30 until I got home, then I whipped up some chocolate chip pancakes to take on the boat because I knew nobody would think of breakfast when we were meeting at 4:30am. I was right, and thankfully I also made some french toast out of some white chocolate cinnamon bread I'd been storing because it turned out nobody thought of lunch either (that's not true - they forgot it at the restaurant).
Sunday, albeit a beautiful day, was a dreadful day of marlin fishing. We set our lines at 5:30 and had our first hit at about 11am. It was a 1-2kg barracuda. Another 2kg mahi-mahi an hour later. We trolled all over our secret point that we accidentally discovered earlier this year - but nothing. We trolled over to another faraway island, then back. We were were nearly back to the secret point when a marlin struck our center outrigger at 2pm. He went nuts, jumping like crazy and really making Yukibo work hard with the boat to keep the line taught.

Naoki, who has been on the pole for something seven lost marlin in a row, seemed to have a good chance with this one. The marlin didn't run too far initially, but he refused to give ground for the next 40 minutes. After setting up all the spears and gaffs and getting gloves ready, Tsutomu and I started washing down the gear and putting everything away in preparation for the trip to Ginowan, which would follow the landing of this fish (6pm deadline).

After one hour of fighting Naoki had the marlin close. We opened the doors and readied the spears and Yukibo was preparing to start handlining. Then... the hook came out. Only 10 meters from the boat. After one hour of fighting. This was a difficult situation for Naoki. He's been on the wrong side of good luck this season on the marlin boat. He caught a 50kg marlin early on, then has lost eight consecutive fish, including this most important one (it would have won us the overal weight category). But it's probably not his fault. In fighting a marlin there is not much skill beyond keeping the line taught (which a surprising number of people seem to fail at). Naoki is just unlucky, but this doesn't prevent us from giving him a really hard time about it (waiting an hour, of course).
On the trip to Ginowan we had a really cool encounter in the open ocean: a whale shark:

These are rare(ish), but just really hard to come across. It was pretty tame and curious. Enjoy these pictures - they don't come along very often.

We made it to Ginowan at 5pm and weighed in our marlin at 122kg. The third biggest at the time, but we knew it wouldn't hold. Shortly later a nice 153kg marlin came in from near to where we'd been fishing. I didn't get final results, but I think they won, then a 150kg, then 132kg, 128kg, 122kg. Something like that. I don't know about overall weight, but I didn't see anybody weigh in more than one marlin, so I'm sure our two would've taken the honors. Bummer.. but, that's fishing. It would be a lot less interesting if a hooked fish meant a guarantee it would be in the boat.

[Team Heartland]

[the sunset on the way back to Zamami]
[that's Zamami on the left]
We returned at 8:30pm, cleaned the fish, went out to dinner at 9pm, then I was in bed by 10:30pm. I slept really, really well.


Wren said...

Great post, as all your fishing posts are. It is great how when you go through all the details of fighting a fish, I never know if you are going to win. I find myself skipping ahead a bit to see how it turns out, just like I do with a novel. Good times.

Anonymous said...

ごくろうさまでした。 この次(つぎ)はボートで寝(ね)る時(とき)は、蚊取り線香(かとりせんこう)を使(つか)ってね。
みんなの分(ぶん)の朝食(ちょうしょく)と昼食(ちゅうしょく)を作(つく)るなんて、えらいですね!!! デーブさん、100点満点です!!