A Fishy Story – Part 1

It seems that I just cannot get away from the entanglements of fishing trips! My first introduction to a fishing trip, which co-incidentally was also when my husband proposed, sadly did not manage to hook my interest. I find fishermen a strange species, but I love my husband and his love for fishing is something I honour and respect. His consistent and relentless pleading and emotional bantering has left my defences weakened though, and in a holiday mood, I finally agreed to accompany him on a deep-sea fishing trip.

What follows is his version of our recent day of fishing while holidaying on Lamu Island, off the Kenyan coast:

Sitting in my comfortable air-conditioned lounge in the UAE my wife suggests we go to Lamu Island for our long overdue honeymoon. We have been married for nearly two years. “Oh great!” I think, “Why do I need to go on a money-moon to show you that I love you?” But then I start asking questions like: “So where is Lamu?” “If it’s an island is there an ocean or a lake?” “Which ocean?” “What fish are in that part of the ocean?”

Without saying much I start thinking this may not be such a bad idea after all. She can go on honeymoon and I can go fishing. What a great compromise! And any long married couple will tell you that the secret of a successful marriage is compromise. “Seems I’m in luck!”

The Kenyan coast on the Indian Ocean is well-known for its Billfish and I’m starting to salivate at the idea of a “honeymoon”. Question is: how do I get the fishing in and keep the balance? Answer: invite her fishing. Now if your wife likes fishing you have no problem, but saying that may wife does not like fishing would be a huge understatement. Being the great woman that she is though, she agrees not only that I can go fishing, but that she will come with for a day. On one condition: she will under NO circumstances participate in the fishing as it involves the untimely death of a Tuna, Snapper or other great tasting fish. The billfish are all tagged and released unharmed to swim another day, so that won’t pose a problem.

Manda Bay Hotel sunrise

A bit of planning later, and we are on our way to Lamu Island Kenya for a combined honeymoon and fishing trip. I must be the luckiest man in the world. On our big day we wake up at 4h20 with the call to prayer. My wife looks nervous and not nearly as excited as I am. After a quick cup of coffee we walk down to the dock to catch a 5h30 “water taxi” to Manda Bay Hotel where we have booked our charter vessel from. We arrive at the exquisite setting that is Manda Bay Hotel just as the sun starts to rise. The team of three on the charter boat show us what’s what and run through the safety briefing. We are going to run out for about an hour and then put some lines in the water. They have decent gear and are running Shimano Tiagras 30’s 50’s and some 80’s, just what we might need if we encounter a Marlin.

Soon we reach the fishing grounds and as eight lures gurgle and pop behind the boat, leaving some impressive smoke trails, I settle in watching them with eager eyes. It is not long before we catch our first Yellow Fin Tuna, and as I have opted for a catch and release programme, I decide that this one will be released into the frying pan for tonight’s dinner. After the first few hits it seems to go a bit quiet and I slip into dream mode. I have long dreamt about catching a Marlin, and I may just get lucky today, even though it is not quite Black Marlin season yet. But you never know!

My dream world is suddenly shattered by the screaming of a reel, the sound that any fisherman loves to hear. I am up in a flash and we have another Tuna. With so many Tuna about there may just be a Sailfish or Marlin around too. Then it happens: we see the unmistakable sight of a Sailfish, raised by a teaser. He is just taking a look at what is making such a commotion on the surface and being no fool, he knows that this teaser is just that: a teaser. He wants food and this it is not. The crew immediately grabbed the rod with the lure closest to the teaser and now eases the lure forward. The fish looks at it, takes a nibble, and for the briefest period he has the lure in his mouth, but the hook has not been set. He finally takes one massive leap out of the water and spits the hook out, as if to say “Do you think I’m stupid? I bet that got your heart pounding!” He was right: it did.

We continue to trawl the lures and run into a school of Yellow Fin Tuna where we have two fish hooked. One of the crew members is quick to ask my wife to land the fish. After a bit of general encouragement she finally agrees and follows all the instructions to a tee and manages to land a nice Yellow Fin Tuna. We continue fishing and a short while later we have five Tuna on at the same time. Things are too hectic for me to handle on my own and the crew ask my wife to help out again, with me in the background confirming that I need help. She reluctantly helps out and lands another Tuna. As she steps away from the rod the perceptive crew immediately hand her another rod and logically point out that I am still busy so she needs to land the fifth Tuna, which she grudgingly does.

So this is the story of how my wife who does NOT fish managed to catch her first three fish in one day and what better a species to catch. The fish went back to the guest house with us where they were turned into wonderful Tuna Steaks and Tuna Carpaccio. Having failed to catch that elusive Marlin, it leaves the door wide open for another occasion to try to drag my wife fishing, as after all we went to catch Billfish and not Tuna!

– written by: Michael Steven –

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My version will obviously have a slightly different tone, seeing that he failed to convert me into the “fisherwoman” of his dreams. Part 2 will follow soon.