In early October, Bob Rich — a 70-year-old chairman of a large frozen food company — caught a 1,100-pound black marline off of Australia. The details of the catch are an incredible read:
“We only fish ‘tag-and-release’, said Rich a conservationist. “All of our fish were leader released with tags from the Game Fish Association of Australia.”
He and teammate Craig Reagor of Ponte Vedra, Fla., were fishing with Aussie captain and friend, Tim Dean of Port Stephens, New South Wales, on Calypso, Dean’s 43-ft. O’Brien.
“We hooked up my 1100 lb fish on Oct 5th at 13:50 and tagged and released her 15 minutes later at 14:05,” said Rich, “but only after she had charged the boat, slamming and spearing a 2 inch hole through the transom door 2 ft above the waterline.
On a video of the fight, viewers can see and hear the heavy ‘thud’ sound of the marlin hitting and moving the boat.
“That spear hole was just mere inches below the gunwale and dead-on to where Bob was sitting in the fighting chair,” exclaimed Reagor pointing to the amazing footage now posted on You Tube.
“Bob and the deck crew were just inches from taking the full force spearing by that massive and powerful leaping billfish.”
On the video moments after the action, the spear hole is discovered and the affable Rich jokingly calls up to the captain and asks if he has to pay for the damage.
“I don’t think we fully realized until later how close we came to having his billfish land in the boat with us,” said Reagor. “When Bob’s big girl took the bait, an 8 to 10 pound scaly mackerel, I’m not sure any of us knew just how big she was.
“The fact that she had taken the larger of the two baits we were trolling gave us all hope. It was a tough fight for several minutes without ever seeing her. She had decided to go deep and with those large pectoral fins managed a stalemate with Bob and the captain. While the boat was being maneuvered to help take more line it seemed for a few seconds that she might be off. That was laid to rest quite decisively when she leapt 10 feet high, about a hundred plus yards away.”
“It was the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen,” Reagor said. “She seemed to just hang in the sky to let us know that she was still there and not through with the fight. It was like a bench clearing moment when everybody jumped and yelled at the sight of the fish and we knew the fight would continue.”
In short order the captain and Bob went to work and first mate Murray Finlayson (aka Muzza) was able to leader her for the tag. The responsibility of the non-invasive tag had fallen to 17-year old Jay Househam, (aka Junior) after which the third deck crew member Guy Sutherland of New Zealand cut the line releasing the fish.
“All performed their duties wonderfully,” said Rich.
The size and catch was verified by the anglers, captain and crew and accepted and approved by tournament chairman Bob Lowe, a longtime IGFA International Committee Representative of Australia after he thoroughly reviewed all of the stills and video footage.
Bob dedicated the catch to his late friend, Don Tyson, a mentor and leader in the food industry and a founder of The Billfish Foundation a non-profit committed to billfish conservation across the Earth’s oceans.
This is probably the fattest rainbow trout I’ve ever seen. It comes from Idaho’s North Fork Clearwater River. Aaron Marshall of Boise hooked this beast — estimated between 22 and 25 pounds — in July. The Spokesman has the details:
Marshall figures the fish he caught and released weighed 22 to 25 pounds.
“I thought, wow, I caught myself a baby beluga. I’ve never seen any fish like that, ever,” he said. “It was a fighter. It was just a big, old, fat trout.”
Not sure what the fish was, he returned it to the water. Under Idaho fishing regulations, any rainbow trout more than 20 inches long caught from the Clearwater River, its North Fork below the dam, or any other river where the fish has the ability to migrate to the ocean is legally defined as a steelhead. By that definition, Marshall’s fish could only be kept during an open catch-and-kill steelhead season. However, his fish had an intact adipose fin, meaning it would qualify as a wild steelhead and would never be available to harvest.
But nobody thinks the fish was actually a steelhead. It’s much too fat and its head and snout are too short. Don Whitney, a fisheries biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said the fish is likely a resident rainbow. He said it could be a descendant from a strain of kamloops trout the department used to release in the Clearwater. When the now-defunct program first started, the kamloops planted in the river were not sterile. Whitney said the fish could be an offspring of one of those fish. In later years, the fish were sterilized.
“I would expect that is either one of our old kamloops that was successful in reproduction or it’s just a resident rainbow that has found a great feeding method off of those kokanee,” he said. “Some of those big pigs like that are just hanging out there gobbling kokanee.”
Feeding on either live or dead kokanee flushed through the dam would offer trout a high-protein, high-fat diet. Whitney was fishing below the dam in June when he saw another fishermen land a fish similar to the one Marshall caught. He helped the angler land and release it.
“That looks pretty damn close to what I put my hands on,” he said. “It’s definitely not the same fish but it’s really close.”
He said a survey crew from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality found a dead rainbow that was about 30 inches long floating just upstream of the dam. It also had a fat belly.
Whatever the source of the fish, Whitney said it’s impressive.
“What an awesome fish,” he said.