Pub landlord Kevin Gardner reels in monster marlin... now for a great white shark!
- Credit: Archant
A Norfolk pub landlord may turn Jaws hunter after realising a lifetime's ambition by catching a monster marlin.
Kevin Gardner, who runs the King's Head at Coltishall, has a great white shark in his sights next, after hauling in a 1320lb Atlantic Blue marlin – the fourth biggest ever caught on rod and line and the best captured by a British angler.
The globe-trotting rodman caught the massive marlin, measuring six metres 20cm long from the tip of its bill to its tail, off Ascension Island. It was the highlight of a 10-day trip to the tiny volcanic speck in the Atlantic Ocean between Brazil and Africa.
When the giant predator snapped up his surface lure it was the start of a three-hour battle which left 49-year-old Kevin a near physical and emotional wreck and vowing never to put himself through such an ordeal orgain.
'Within the first 15 seconds it had stripped off 700 metres of line, it hit it that fast. From where we hooked it to where we got it to the boat was approximately five miles.'
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Recalling the epic battle, conducted in the blazing 30 degree heat of the afternoon sun, Kevin said: 'After about two hours I wished I had never hooked it. I was completely burned by the sun, I was suffering dehydration, I had blisters on my hands from all the reeling, my back ached and my feet were burned to a crisp. It really was hard work.'
The fish came to edge of the boat four times before speeding off again before finally being hauled in much to the relief of Kevin, his angling pal Phil Riley from Liverpool, and Olaf Grimkowksi, the German skipper of the boat Hamattan, a 36ft Rampage.
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'When we landed it no-one really knew how big it was,' said Kevin, who was stunned when the fish was weighed on the quayside scales. 'It was the end of a dream really,' said Kevin, who sold his house in Beaconsfield Road , Norwich in 1988 to fund a fishing trip to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. After catching a black marlin of 750lb, he vowed to catch a monster blue marlin. Some 25 years later his mission was finally accomplished. Now talk has turned to the next challenge for a man hooked on sport fishing.
'We are discussing it at the moment. We can't decide if we should go to South Africa to catch a great white shark or Nicaragua for a 250lb tarpon. One thing is for sure, I won't be chasing blue marlin any more – that hurt too much!' Kevin made the nine and- a-half hour flight to Ascension Island, home to a British RAF base, on board a military plane from RAF Brize Norton. He described the sea around Ascension as an angler's paradise, aided by the fact that there is a 200-mile commercial fishing exclusion zone around the seven-miles long island. Earlier in the trip he had another fight to remember when he caught a 234lb big-eye tuna, on the same trolling lure – a black bart abco prowler (12 inches long with a head the size of a coke can) – which accounted for the marlin.
The tuna was boated after an hour-long scrap on 130lb braided main line after diving to a depth of 600 metres.'It was a bit of a tug of war. You know when you have been in a scrap with one.'
Customers at the King's Head, which Kevin has run for 17 years, have been able to share in his success as he had the fish filleted and brought it back and it is now on the menu. 'It has been going down well,' said Kevin, who, with business partner Brian Gatley recently reopened the Red Lion pub in the village .
You won't find a fish this big – but don't miss the British Carp and Angling Show at the Norfolk Showground on March 16/17.
American author Ernest Hemingway was a keen marlin fisherman. His novel, the old Man and the Sea, tells of an ageing fisherman's battle lasting over three days with a giant marlin off Cuba. Published in 1952 it was the last major work of fiction produced and published in his lifetime. The novel earned the Pulitzer Prize in 1952 and helped Hemingway to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
The Atlantic Blue Marlin has few predators apart from the Great White Shark, the shortfin mako shark and man. It is considered a threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because of commercial overfishing. The fish is under intense pressure from longline fishing.
Some other historic English names for the Atlantic blue marlin include ocean gar and ocean guard.
The Atlantic blue marlin feeds on a wide variety of organisms near he surface. It uses its bill to stun, injure or kill while knifing through a school of prey, then returns to eat.
Because of their relative rarity, beauty and sporting qualities marlin are considered one of the most prestigious catches a recreational fisherman can make. The sport-fishing pursuit of marlin and other billfish is a multi-million dollar industry that includes hundreds of companies and thousands of jobs.
The world record for a rod and line caught Atlantic blue marlin was 1400lb, caught off Brazil in 1992. Female marlin are more than four times as heavy as the males, which rarely exceed 350lb.
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean around 1,000 miles from the coast of Africa and 1400 miles from the coast of South America. It covers a total area of 34 square miles.
The island is the location for RAF Ascension Island, a Royal Air Force station with a United States Air Force presence. The island was used extensively by the British military during the Falklands War. The capital is Georgetown, its estimated population is 880 and the official language is English.