A 33-year-old doorman has reportedly speared the largest fish ever off the California coast, a 413-pound blue marlin.
Joel Smith speared the goliath while diving under a seaweed paddy about 25 miles off the coast of San Diego. Along with friends and his father, they were looking for dorado and yellow tail. But what they found was a fish more than twice the size of the man who speared it.
Smith shot the massive blue marlin on Sept 2 but kept quiet about it for fear of public opinion, that is until he went on Phil Friedman’s outdoor radio show.
There are records for spearing a 343-pound marlin by the San Diego Freedivers Club, but that was likely in Mexico waters. In Florida, a record stands by a spear fisherman who once brought in a 664-pound blue marlin, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. But the California blue marlin spear fishing records are blank. That’s where Smith comes in.
After hearing the story, Friedman said it was the most incredible fishing tale he has ever heard, right out of a novel.
“To come face to face with a 400-pound blue marlin and take a shot at it, get dragged through the water once and then water ski behind it a second time is incredible,” he said on the show. “It’s right out of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea.”
Smith said he and his friend had speared a dorado and were looking for a tuna or yellowtail when he noticed the marlin coming straight toward them like a missile.
“I could see it was a big marlin, and as soon as it saw me, it made a 180-degree turn toward me,” he told Friedman. “But it stopped and postured up as if to say, ‘I’m the apex predator here, and you’re too close to my lunch.’”
Everything happened fast and the marlin turned broadside to him at about 10 feet and he took the shot.
“Normally I would never take a shot at something that big, but it was calculated so I took it,” he said.
He said he hit it one foot between the eye and the lateral line, stunning it. The fish went limp and floated belly up. But before he could do anything more, it woke up and pulled him through the water. In distress, he said the fish glowed with an indigo violet color.
As soon as the fish stopped, Smith swam as hard as he could toward the boat, but it took off again and this time pulled him like a water ski.
“That’s probably when I was scared the most because I know marlin can attack, and I remembered reading about a spear fisherman who was killed by a swordfish,” Smith said.
Earlier this year, a spear fisherman in Hawaii was impaled by a marlin fish.
Finally, Smith was able to make one last effort to the boat and he made it. The crew managed to secure the line to a reel. From there it took more than 2 ½ hours to finally get it onto the boat.
If there had been any swell, Smith said it would have probably sunk the boat. Like a true fisherman, Smith plans to eat all the meat or share it with friends and family. He said he wasn’t in it for the trophy and wants to respect the animal as best he can. So this week he picked up 150 pounds of smoked blue marlin he called the best effort. And it comes with quite a story.
“If you’re killing this amazing creature, you have to do it justice,” he said.
Photo courtesy: Joel Smith