Fishing isn’t generally considered a dangerous sport, but businessman and author Bob Rich Jr found out how risky a major brawl with a black marlin can be. He came within inches of being speared by an 1100-pound charging billfish. Rich was competing in the week-long 2011 Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic, an annual tag-and-release tournament off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
This 70-year-old is a self-proclaimed fishing fanatic and has been in search of a grander marlin for three decades. Bob has now been able to check off the grander from his bucket list, but the marlin almost checked him off too!
“We only fish tag-and release,” said Rich, a conservationist and annual inclusion in Forbes Magazine’s lists of the USA’s and the world’s richest people. “All of our fish were released with tags.” He and teammate Craig Reagor were fishing with Aussie captain and friend Tim Dean on Calypso, Dean’s 43ft O’Brien. “We hooked-up my 1100lb fish on Oct 5 at 1:50pm and tagged and released her 15 minutes later,” said Rich, “but only after she had charged the boat, slamming and spearing a two-inch hole through the transom door two feet above the waterline.”
“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. While the boat was being manoeuvred 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 hundredplus yards away. It was the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen,” Reagor said. “She seemed to just hang in the sky. It was like a bench-clearing moment when everybody jumped and yelled at the sight of the fish.”
On a video of the fight, viewers can see and hear the heavy ‘thud’ 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.
Deckie Murray Finlayson was able to leader the huge fish alongside for the tag. The size and catch was verified by the anglers, captain and crew and accepted and approved by tournament chairman Bob Lowe, a long-time IGFA International Committee Representative of Australia