Do you devote hours, days and weeks in pursuit of a fish, only to release it and let it swim away once you catch it?
Those unfamiliar with the sport of billfishing might ask the simple question: Why.
Why spend all that money
chasing fish in the open sea?
Why devote hours, days and weeks in pursuit of a fish, only to release it and let it swim away once you finally catch it?
Why risk life and limb battling a species of fish that is capable of pulling you overboard or spearing you with its bill in the blink of an eye?
What is it about the sport of billfishing that makes it special?
No one in recent memory has answered these questions quite so effectively as did The Day of the Jackal author Frederick Forsyth in an interview with David Finkelstein for the article, The Author as Angler, which appeard in a 1997 issue of Marlin.
Big-game fishing ... it just bites you, Forsyth said. It`s not something you can understand unless you yourself have been bitten by the bug, but to those who have been bitten it`s the most exciting of all participant sports. To others it`s totally mystifying, because it`s also probably the least active of participant sports. People can`t understand what the hell these guys are up to, sitting on a boat hour after hour doing nothing but staring at the sea, waiting. What they don`t understand is it`s like waiting for Christmas
to come so you can open your presents.
And when that reel suddenly goes off in a long high-pitched scream, and four quite somnolent guys suddenly start shouting and swearing at each other - `shove this in here, get that down there, I`ll take this, you grab that` - that chaos and frenzy is in total contrast to the mood a few seconds earlier, and I find this hugely exciting.
Then there`s the personal contest aspect of it. It`s just you and the fish, nobody else. It`s strictly personal. There`s no rancor involved, of course, but it`s a contest between equals, each in a different environment, linked by only that slender filament of nylon. We`ve got a bit of technology on our side, and, hopefully, a little better brain. On his (or her) side the fish has millions of years of evolution, of packed muscle and protein, and a marlin or a tuna is perhaps the strongest animal in the world.
So it`s a matter of personal combat, and it ultimately comes down to an issue of stamina and will. My arms ache, my hand is cramped, my shoulder`s on fire, but ... it`s my fish, it`s just me and him. I can`t go on, but I still go on. And if, finally, I really can`t go on, I don`t let anyone take over for me. I break him off. He wins.