As avid anglers we all dream of catching that one trophy fish of a lifetime. Undoubtedly there are a select few who can relate to this experience but most of us still dream of experiencing that signature adrenaline high that can only come from such an accomplishment. Whether it;s a 200 lb. tarpon or a grander blue marlin, reaching the pinnacle of our sport is an awe-inspiring event.
The memory of such an occasion is so deeply embedded in one;s mind that the person telling the story can still feel the same excitement once shared in the cockpit. What follows is a brief recollection of an extraordinary big game fishing occurrence that is so rare, I doubt any of us will ever experience it ourselves. Frank Rodriguez, Capt. Robby Moore and mate Bob Memmen, along with guest Scott Miller had been fishing the BBC (Bahamas Billfish Championship) aboard Frank;s 65 Viking, FA-LA-ME. During the final day of the event they shared what most anglers only dream about. Not once, but three times.
It;s daybreak on Friday, May 9th 2003 as they head out of the harbor in Walkers Cay preparing to fish the last day of this prestigious billfish event. ‘Lines in;was scheduled for 8:00 am so there was plenty of time for the crew to rig all the rods and make sure the marlin lures were in top condition. Hooks were re-sharpened, crimps double checked and drags set to strike. Everyone and everything on the FA-LA-ME was well prepared for the day ahead. After several hours of trolling with no action, the crew was beginning to feel a little anxious. Stress levels rose when they realized the most productive hours of the day were now behind them. Everyone settled in to the predictable groove of waiting and hoping, so common on the big fish tournament trails. Instantaniously, the crew jumped into action when the all familiar call of left short was shouted down from the bridge.
Frank, the owner of the boat and the designated angler for the tournament, grabs the rod and sets the hook. Simultaneously, the center rigger pops followed by the right short. Remember, in order to abide by tournament rules no one is permitted to touch the rod other than designated anglers. To make this scenario a little easier to understand, imagine being in the center of a huge cockpit on a 65; sport fishing yacht with not one, not two but three bent butt 130 pound class rods doubled over with line screaming off the reels. You want to talk about mayhem? Frank immediately looked to the bridge hoping Capt. Moore saw the strikes and could tell which one, if any was a marlin. They;re all huge bluefins was the reply from above. Frank does a check of his watch and it;s exactly 10:06 am. He gets in the fighting chair and fastens his harness to the rod. Mates Bob and Scott set the hook on the other two fish and begin their own battles, fighting the tuna directly out of the rod holders in each corner of the transom. Capt. Moore, relying on his boat handling skills and years of experience, does everything he can to keep things together and prevent losing any of the 3 giant fish. As an angler and commercial fisherman with more than 20 years on the water, I can tell you a triple-header is never an ideal situation. Experiencing a triple header with three giant bluefin tuna, each estimated at over a thousand pounds, is downright nerve-racking.
With some very skillful boat maneuvering and after only an hour, Frank gets the first fish to the boat, quickly realizing this is his trophy catch of a lifetime. As soon as the mate got a hold of the leader, I unfastened the bucket harness and placed the rod in the starboard rod holder. In what seemed like one continuous motion and slightly still in shock, I grabbed my camera and flew straight up to the bridge and snapped as many photos as I could says Rodriguez. Using tail ropes and a come-along, we spent an entire hour muscling the tuna through the transom door, and we still had two monsters to deal with, unbelievable! I still can;t believe the two other fish remained hooked after all we went through. I gained a whole new level of respect for both Shimano reels and Sufix line that day, mentioned Rodriguez. Unfortunately, soon there after one of the big bluefins had enough and decided to part ways. An hour or so later the mate touched the leader on the last fish and we registered an official release. Later that day an awaiting crowd welcomed the FA-LA-ME to the scales in Walkers Cay. The FA-LA-ME team may not have won the tournament but were just as happy with their 1,058 pound prized giant bluefin. I couldn;t have asked for a better day or a better crew. Everything was simply awesome. There is absolutely no doubt that this was the best fishing trip of my entire life says Rodriguez.
About the Author:
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Oscar Cid has spent the past 20 years fishing both the inshore and offshore waters of south Florida and the Keys. After ten years of fishing the southeast coast, Oscar moved to Tampa and began exploring the backcountry areas common on the west coast.
Finding a passion for the sport, Oscar began posting reports for several fishing related websites and provided content on various fishing related topics. He became the Tampa regional editor for Woods and Water Magazine supplying reports and feature articles for the publication. After 15 years in a corporate environment, Oscar hung up his suits and became a commercial shrimp fisherman, fishing the lower end of Biscayne Bay and Card Sound. He now represents the southwest coast of Florida for the South Florida Sport fishing Magazine and can be reached at 954.942.7261
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