My First Sail Fish - War and Peace

Friday night the weather was looking good the boat and gear was ready and everything was set for a big day chasing big reds out towards Wandoo. Well the alarm sounded at 3.30 and I was already awake with that sense of excitement before every fishing trip.

Once at the boat ramp there seemed to be a little bit more breeze than the weather sites had indicated the previous night. Once we cleared the Islands it was very clear that today wasn’t going to provide the weather needed to head out towards Wandoo so a change in plans was on the cards.

I noticed the largest school of birds I have seen in a long time working the Inner patch so we decided to have a troll around the edges looking for some nice Mackies as the freezer was starting to get a bit low but lost the first three or four fish between my deckie and I to the grey coats. After losing a Rapla X-Rap to the sharks I decided I didn’t want to give any more tackle to them and changed to casting twisties and soft plastics into the school of Tuna. Nothing seemed to be going our way, first the weather then the sharks and then the boiling Tuna didn’t want a bar of anything thrown at them. We decided one more drift past and we would move on and I finally hooked and landed a small Tuna.

We decided to trawl an area amongst the ships that had produced some nice Mackies and Wahoo on previous trips. Again after over an hour and several lure changes nothing much was happening until finally I hooked and landed a 12kg Mackie, just the right size for eating after which my deckie followed with one of his own. At least the trip had produced something. Just as we were feeling good about our chances the grey coats turned up nailing anything we hooked within seconds so a change of strategy was in order.

With a nice fish for each of we decided to give bottom bashing a go before heading home, Before getting started we set up a rod each with a mullie free drifting about 20 – 30 metres out the back. After dropping the mullie in while I was setting up the bottom bouncing rod I was telling my Deckie that while this outfit I had the mullie on cost an arm and a leg I didn’t like it, I always seemed to have a bad day when I used it or took it out and I hadn’t caught a fish worth disclosing on it. Then with the timing of a cheap comedy line started screaming first of my rod and then of my Deckies rod and I turned to see one of the most exciting things in my life, a good sized Sail Fish tail walking at the back of the boat. I grabbed the rod and the fun started, My deckie lost his fish a few seconds after he grabbed his rod so he turned his attention to helping me.

My heart was in the back of my throat as I tried to slow this majestic fishes first blistering run and watched as the line disappeared off my reel at a disturbing rate. Our biggest problem was getting the anchor in before I was spooled. The next minute or so was the most nervous and heart wrenching period in my fishing life, my mind was working over time asking myself how anchor line did I let out? How fast can the winch recover the line? Is my drag to tight or not tight enough? Are my knots going to hold up? Can this rod and reel handle a fish like this? Thankfully the fish had decided to run almost parallel to the boat while we recovered the anchor rope because as I heard the chain start to come over the rail I would have only had about 25 metres of line left on the reel.

It was game on, I knew that people land these fish quite often on 10kg setups in the Dampier Classic but most of these are experienced bill fish fishermen. I was using a Shimano Terez 10-30lb Rod with a Stella 5000 reel and 30lb Braid so I knew it was now achievable as we could chase this fish and take our time with the anchor recovered.

The next 20 minutes was taken up following the fish and keeping the fish about 50 metres from the boat. This whole time I just kept going over the basics, keep a bend in the rod, don’t over tighten the drag, keep the fish on the beam of the boat. This whole time the fish was jumping, tail walking and taking run after run to free it’s self but with every minute I was feeling a little better about my chances.

Finally I felt like I had the upper hand, I was able to turn him and stop each run pretty quickly, he was no longer tail walking, those exciting jumps had subdued into nothing more than a head lift and head shake. Now for the hardest part that I had been worrying about this whole fight bringing him to the boat.

I slowly started to work the fish the final 50 metres to the boat, I didn’t want to take the boat to him as I figured that if I could bring him to the boat then he was ready to be landed. Just as I was thinking I might actually do what I had only dreamed about the fish got it’s first look at the boat and decided he didn’t want any part of it. Turning and putting everything into his first boat inspired run he took back the 50 metres of line I had just worked so hard for. I settled the nerves and told myself better he runs now and uses that energy instead of doing it right beside the boat.

Again I slowly started to work the fish over the same 50 metres with a couple more smaller boat inspired runs. With the dedication of a saint and precision of a F1 driver my deckie turned and moved the boat to keep the fish at the side of the boat and stopped him busting off on the boat or motor in the final metres. While this fish was pretty much spent his size and my light tackle meant this still needed allot of concentration and communication to keep this fish on.

All or nothing, it was time to land this fish, then the unthinkable, a grey suit started to circle. “Holy crap, please God no, not this time” plus a whole lot of other words that I can’t repeat came out of my mouth, I couldn’t believe that after all this work and effort so close to the finish a shark was going rain on my parade. Then one of the most amazing things I have seen happened, the Sail fish knowing that its end was near had one last trick up it sleeve. It turned and faced the shark, keeping it’s bill pointed at the shark while the shark circled, after about thirty seconds to a minute the shark decided he didn’t want to be apart of this and returned to the depths. Memorised and amazed at what I had just witnessed I reminded my Deckie that if he let go of this fish once he got his hands on the bill then unless he ended up in the water he better no let go if he ever wanted to set foot on my boat again. As my Deckie got a hand on the fish I flicked the bail arm over and grabbed the bill as well.

“WHOO HOO, LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT, HOLY SNAPPING DUCK S#!T, I CAN”T BELIEVE WE DID IT” followed by several minutes of dribble along the same lines. I normally don’t yell and scream like a fishing show host on speed but on this occasion I couldn’t help myself.

Now for the $64,000 question, do I bring the fish on board for a photo or not? Being my first and knowing this photo would be on the wall I decided to bring him on for a photo. I returned the fish to the water as quickly as I could and swam the fish for a good 10 minutes before letting the catch of a life time swim of into the depths to fight again another day.

Minutes before hooking this fish I had been explaining to my deckie that this rod and reel was bad luck and I never seemed to do any good when ever I used it. The only reason it was used was because the rod I would normally have used in this situation had the leader broken of by a shark earlier. I don’t really need to say it but this rod is now my favourite by a country mile. Once landed we also found that the fish my Deckie had lost was this fish as his hook and leader were still attached. He can now claim that he hooked a sail fish that was landed!


If you ain't Fishin you ain't Livin

Image Upload: 

milsey's picture

Posts: 1462

Date Joined: 22/08/07

 Well done mate, Rippa read

Tue, 2011-10-25 13:11

 Well done mate, Rippa read and awsome fish too. How do you find the Terez?

Webby's picture

Posts: 835

Date Joined: 24/09/08

Nicely done, nothing adds

Tue, 2011-10-25 13:25

Nicely done, nothing adds Presure to a deckie than threatening him with a swim home or death if they fail haha. Good read mate cheers


I live with fear every day... sometimes she lets me go fishing.

deepwater's picture

Posts: 1912

Date Joined: 09/05/07

Nice fish

Tue, 2011-10-25 13:35

good fish and a great effort there dave well done





snappermiles's picture

Posts: 2098

Date Joined: 05/11/10

lovely fish

Tue, 2011-10-25 13:38

i can imagine the expression on your face when the shark swam off



Pilbra Dave's picture

Posts: 194

Date Joined: 30/09/11

Got to Love the Terez

Tue, 2011-10-25 14:07

I love the action of the rod, it gives you that little bit extra give that makes up for the lack of stretch you get from mono but still has the ability to pull hard from lower down in the rod. I think the rod played a big part in landing this fish and would now recommend them to anyone. Before this fish I hadn’t really landed anything heavy enough to really test the rod. My old man has the same rod and I got him on to some 10kg+ Gold Spotted Trev’s and he loved the feel of it as well.


If you ain't Fishin you ain't Livin

PattyT's picture

Posts: 1025

Date Joined: 15/08/10

Cracker read, cracker fish

Tue, 2011-10-25 14:21

Cracker read, cracker fish and cracker shirt!! (had one just like it, retired now though haha)

Well done mate.. I'v had some great moments fishing, but nothing like that as yet. FINGERS CROSSED!

soupster51's picture

Posts: 2722

Date Joined: 29/11/06

Top Read and Congrats

Tue, 2011-10-25 16:30

Best read for quite a while, top effort. Congrats on your patience level. I'm struggling on the billfish front right now, just not used to the awesome power and the time required to wear them out. Your write affirms to me that I'm on the right track - cheers.


The best reason for doing what's right today is tomorrow.

Posts: 9358

Date Joined: 21/02/08

Nice catch!

Tue, 2011-10-25 17:40

Nice catch!


Posts: 255

Date Joined: 19/09/11

 ive also got a terez

Tue, 2011-10-25 18:19

 ive also got a terez 40-80lb, really like it but also i have not tested it yet, hopefuly it gets a work out in jan when i head up to exmouth


nice catch to!

Lucky Tim's picture

Posts: 2536

Date Joined: 28/11/07

nice work mate, always a

Wed, 2011-10-26 08:36

nice work mate, always a massive buzz landing a billy, let alone your first.

The_Wanderer's picture

Posts: 730

Date Joined: 24/09/08

Nice! work!

Wed, 2011-10-26 12:54

Nice! work!

dirtball's picture

Posts: 49

Date Joined: 26/02/11

 You kept so quiet about this

Thu, 2011-10-27 17:16

 You kept so quiet about this Dave.......but good work on this with light gear!