Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sam's Cup 2011

The annual billfish tournament (Sam's Cup) was this weekend.  It began at 6am Saturday morning with a shotgun start at Ginowan Marina on the Okinawa mainland.  It took 1.5 hours to reach the fishing grounds so I wisely used that time to nap as my previous night spent on the boat was interrupted every 20-30 minutes by mosquitos.

We started fishing at 7:30am and had our first hookup around 10am.  I lost the three-way janken (rock, paper, scissors) game to determine who reeled in the first, second, and third marlin, so I got to be the leader handler at the end of this 40-minute fight:

The second fish was a mahi-mahi, so that put me in line for the next fish, which turned out to be a marlin.  But it was incredibly weak and I brought it to the boat less than 10 minutes after it hit.  I think it was 75kg.  There are two categories in the tournament: biggest fish and most cumulative weight, so this fish was important for the latter category.

The next series of events is an example of why we are so serious about keeping lines in the water while we're fishing.  Before taking the gaffs or spears or even the lure out of the caught marlin we set the trolling rig back up.  Less than five minutes later, before we could even put ice on my marlin, we had another strike.  This one turned out to be ~132kg and I was again the leader handler.  Watch at 44 seconds where I freak out a little as I feel the loose line touching my neck.  Hand-lining the marlin is the most dangerous job of the fight for a few reasons, but mostly because you are creating slack in a 10m piece of nylon and that line needs to go somewhere safe but also not get caught on anything in case the fish decides to run again.  Getting a coil wrapped around a body part with a big marlin on the other end could be a death sentence.

[credit to Akiko for the awesome videos]

We came back to Zamami at 5:30pm and decided to put all of these marlin inside a walk-in refrigerator (because we couldn't come up with enough ice).

Unfortunately today was Zamami's undokai (sports day), which I sort of have to attend since I'm a teacher.  So I couldn't go fishing.  But they caught another ~85kg marlin today to add to our total weight, then came back to Zamami at 3:30pm to pick up the refrigerated marlin and me.  I went along to Ginowan for the weigh-in, which was exciting and long.  We ended up with 426kg (939lbs) of combined marlin between our four catches.  This won us first prize for the overall weight category, which marks the second time in four years we've taken that trophy!  (out of 40 teams.)

And as if we all weren't already tired enough from the weekend, we had to cut up four marlin on the boat trip back to Zamami, 30% of which was in the dark.  There was blood, fish slime, and small sashimi pieces everywhere (including three in my hair).  We ended up with an enormous amount of fish, two pieces of which are crying out to me from my sink to be skinned, cleaned and frozen.

Since I went to sports day today I get tomorrow off, so I plan to go to Naha with the captain and one or two others to attend the awards ceremony/closing party tomorrow night.

These marlin are numbers 16-20 for this year alone (previous record was 15) and #94-98 for Yukibo's (captain) career on Zamami.  I still hold the number two position with the 188kg marlin I caught in this tournament four years ago.


John said...

Sorry to spam but it appears the contact form on your Zamami English site is experiencing script problems. You get the message "That is not a valid email address. Please return to the previous page and try again." when you click submit button.

Dave said...

Hmm, do you have a period in your email address (before the @ symbol)? I have heard of that causing problems before.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Indeed that was the issue! Luckily the period in gmail addresses are redundant and still works when they are removed.

Anonymous said...

Oh, what a nice (sexy) body you are! I want to go to SOUTH PACIFIC to catch a big merin. That's my dream. ***** stars.