My First Big Marlin
Jennifer Donovan

It was a quiet day on the waters. Sun shining, not a cloud in the sky, calm waters. Somewhat typical for an early November day on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Donned with lots of sunscreen and a lovely new hat bought at the bait store, I was ready to roll. Since we were on vacation, I opted for a bit of a late start on the waters, around 10:30 a.m. I was told the fish are better in the wee hours of the morning before the sun even wakes up, but I wasn?t buying it. I needed my beauty rest.

With our homemade lunches and lots of liquids, we started out. Slowly past the famous Cabo ?arch?, we made our way offshore. It was just the four of us: the captain, mate and my brother, Ryan, and I. We decided to just spent a little sibling time together on the waters, enjoying each other?s company and learning a little about fishing (learning was for me of course, but later would learn, my brother could have used some tips ?

We decided to troll for rooster fish first. Rooster fish apparently love to hang out along the shore, so we spent about two hours cruising up and down the shore at a slow pace.

Not a bite to be found. But it was quiet, relaxing and gave us a chance to see the gorgeous shoreline. Enough of that calm, we were ready to start to catch some fish!

So we went out a bit more off the shore and got the lines ready for the tuna, marlin, dorado; whatever was biting that morning. Well, by now it might have been afternoon. The second we got out there, two lines bit. But we lost them soon after. Another hour went by and we thought it might be a lost day. I secretly held out hope.

Finally something was caught?.but it wasn?t a fish at all. It was a huge pelican that was fighting Ryan for his bait. That sucker was caught, so Ryan had to reel him up to the side of the boat and unhook him. But the pelican didn?t give up and Ryan had to fight him off for another hour.

I went under cover to get some shade as the sun on the water was quite strong. While staring off into the gorgeous blue sea, a flurry of activity started up on deck. ?Grab the reels.? ?You get that one, I?ll get this one.? Ryan and Omar raced to get the poles. Quickly one was lost, then the other. But one fish was still on the line.

That?s when it all began.

Ryan called me up to the deck and had me hold the pole. He told me to get in the seat. Quick! So I jumped in the chair, having no idea what to do or what was about to happen. My legs were so short, I couldn?t prop myself up against the edge of the boat, and my legs wouldn?t reach the ground, so I had no leverage. I had no clue how to reel, but all I was hearing was ?reel, reel, reel. Reel Jenny, reel.? I was laughing as I had no clue how to do this. I was not in the backyard ponds of North Andover, MA anymore using a little worm for bait. I was in my own form of the big leagues.

So I started this reeling stuff they were all yelling about, and thought I was doing a great job. Until my brother told me that I should reel on the way down, not the way up. Ok, I thought, this should get a lot easier now, because that was hard. Ya right!! Ryan looked out of the boat and said ?Oh I see him.? So I looked around the boat and couldn?t find the bugger for the life of me. Until I was told to look further out. All the way to the horizon! Oh lord I thought. There?s no way I?m pulling this guy in.

And a fighter he was. Every few minutes, he must have seen another cute fish, because he swam like a maniac away from my line and the boat. About 15 minutes in, I felt like giving up. My hands were raw, my arms were shaking they were so tired, my hair was wet and sticky from the salt, my legs were soaking wet and getting burned by the hot sun.

It was then that my brother told me a story to keep me motivated. He told me of a time a few years back when his friend, Steven Draper, was down fishing with him and got a bite from his first marlin. It was at about the 10 minute mark where Draper began to have the same feelings as I did. He was tired and couldn?t do it anymore. He handed his pole over for someone else to bring the big fish in. He gave up.

That was all I needed to hear! My motivation level rose about 100 percent and I thought to myself, there?s no way I?m not bringing this one in and quitting like Draper did. Now he is probably bigger and stronger than me, probably works out more than me, and is used to showing off for the boys, but he gave up. Another 15 or 20 minutes go by and I finally get the beautiful marlin up on the boat. The first thing out of Ryan?s mouth was ?Way to go Jen! Great job! That fish is so much bigger than the one Draper let go of.?

I took a few pictures of my catch, gave it a little kiss and let him go back to the deep, blue ocean waters he feels free in. Then it was time for a celebratory beer and a nap for me. I bet Draper just took the nap.