I recently read an online story about a fish being caught.

But it’s not your average fish tale, and it’s one of those stories that grabs my attention for reasons well beyond the boundaries of the actual content.

So, a British fisherman named Kevin Gardner landed his first blue marlin on Feb. 18. Obviously, that in itself wouldn’t be reason enough for worldwide news outlets to post stories on their websites. There are guys – and gals – catching their first big fish all the time.

But this was no 10-pound largemouth bass, 85-pound channel catfish, or 150-pound tuna. This was different.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Gardner was fishing from a boat in the waters near Ascension Island, a British territory in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, pretty much equidistant from South America and Africa. The vessel, named “Harmattan,” was being skippered by long-time marlin fishing guide, Olaf Grinkowski. On his Facebook page, Grinkowski reported that a fish hit at about 1:30 p.m. at the southwest side of the island.
After a lengthy – and surely tiring – battle, Gardner landed one of the biggest blue marlin ever caught, an incredible 1,320-pounder measuring 149 inches long (almost 12 1/2 feet!) and sporting a girth of 83 inches (the fish’s circumference at it fattest point).

Say what?

Ascension Island is apparently well known for its “granders,” or marlin in the 1,000-pound or better range. OK, so that means there’s a place that’s famous because of the number of half-ton fish that are caught there.

The extremely remote island’s big attraction is catching fish that weigh more than most horses. With rods and reels.


After the big catch, the experienced Grinkowski indicated that the current fishing season hasn’t been the best.

“We had a pretty slow season until now when it comes to marlin fishing,” he said, “but it seems to be true that when you have a long hard time, you are saving up for something special. Well, we had our special day today.”

I guess.
Gardner’s giant was said to be the second-largest blue marlin taken at Ascension Island (there was a bigger one?), behind a 1,337-pounder landed in 2002. According to the International Game Fishing Association, the all-tackle world record for Atlantic blue marlin was a behemoth caught off the coast of Brazil in February 1992 that checked in at 1,402 pounds, while the IGFA all-tackle record for Pacific blue marlin is 1,376 pounds.
But by any standards, using any comparison, Garnder’s fish was massive. It was like reeling in a small vehicle.

I love some of Grinkowski’s descriptive words posted on Facebook about the memorable catch. It sounds like a passage out of a Hemingway book.
“In the distance, we saw her lunging and she looked promising. After three surface runs she went a bit deeper and for the last 90 minutes Kevin fought her (into the) sunset.”


Gardner apparently got the fish to the boat four times before it was gaffed, but four times the boat’s wireman had to let go of the leader. Finally, after three grueling hours of man versus fish (more like dog versus elephant), the wireman (wiring his first marlin, of all things) managed to gaff the aquatic monster.
I cannot imagine being any of the men on the Harmattan that day.

When they looked into the water and saw a 12-foot beast, did one of them say, “nice fish,” like all the guys who host fishing shows on satellite TV channels? Did they do chest bumps and high fives and then pop a cork?

Or did someone lead a prayer, thanking God for creating something so wildly majestic, and majestically wild?
Reading the story made me reflect as I have many, many times before about the size and nature of oceans. As we all learned in grade school, three-quarters of planet Earth is covered by water, about 99.9 percent of which is saltwater making up the interconnected network of bodies we call oceans.

Some of that water is as much as 30,000 feet deep (more than five miles!), and there are plenty of places where it’s 10 to 20 thousand feet deep.

The bottom line is, there’s one heck of a lot of water out there, and I believe we humans ain’t but scratched the surface as far as understanding what goes on its vastness.

So when I see or hear stories about 1,300-pound-plus fish being pulled up, my reaction is always to wonder what else is in there. I’d say it stands to reason that if there’s one that big, there’s a bigger one. And if there’s a bigger one, there’s probably a way bigger one.

To take that thought a step further, I’d venture to say we’re closer to clueless that enlightened about what might be swimming in a bazillion square miles of ocean. I don’t think a 20-foot blue marlin is out of the question. He’s just smarter and stays away from the shiny, smelly thing at the end of the skinny line that resembles a tasty morsel. In fact, he probably even tries to warn the little 12-footers in his neck of the deep blue sea to do the same, but the ornery whippersnappers don’t always listen.

And realistically, oceans are the only watery environments where stuff swims that would surprise anyone and everyone.

When I was living in northeast Georgia in about 2004, I wrote a column after a kid caught a piranha while fishing in Lake Lanier (the same body of water that was host to rowing events in the 1996 Olympics). A couple of years ago, I wrote a column after a guy fishing for buffalo fish (whatever that is) in a small Mississippi lake pulled up an 8 1/2-foot alligator gar that weighed more than 325 pounds.

And in case you hadn’t heard, giant goldfish weighing in excess of four pounds have been found in Lake Tahoe, a deep, high-altitude lake straddling the California and Nevada state lines whose ice-cold waters shouldn’t be a place where pet carp would thrive (but are).

If you feel led, check out the story of the Gardner marlin online at

http://www.grindtv.com/outdoor/blog/51100/a+1320-pound+blue+marlin+taken+at+ascension+is+among+biggest+ever/, the gargantuan gar at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1358616/Record-breaking-alligator-caught-Mississippi-lake.html, or the Tahoe goldfish at http://news.yahoo.com/monster-goldfish-found-lake-tahoe-193345402.html.

And remember, you might think you do, but you don’t really know what’s in that lake underneath your boat, or in that ocean beyond those waves. How cool is that?

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.