(Text by Ryan Lategan – Photos Stephen Griffiths)

I had the opportunity to make contact with Fred Bester, a Protea spearfisherman who took part in the Euro African Champs last year. A true sportsman and a proper gentleman of the sea…
He recently landed a beautiful black Marlin and I was fortunate enough to get the story…

The start and spot of the Marlin

Fred: “On Sunday Gary, Stephen, Jacques and myself launched to go dive the 5 Mile Banks, Struisbaai, just off the southern most tip of Africa.The current was strong and the water was purple with a thermocline moving in. I was 40 odd meters away when I heard Jacque yelling “Marlin, there is a Marlin coming your way”.
Not 20 m away, a marlin headed straight towards me. I dived down and swam to intercept it 5 meters below the surface.

The catch

I took aim with my 1 m Rob Allen Roller gun with shot landing just behind the eye. The spear was through and the barb engaged. It seemed as though the fish was stunned or was not aware of the situation. I was in tow and yelled for a bouy which Gary provided me with. After little struggle, I managed to attach the clip to the 6 litre bouy. Gary provided me with another speargun to secure the fish. I pulled myself along the reel line and managed a second shot into the back of the head. I surfaced and to my horror I saw Jacques hanging onto the bouy line. In stories told about lost marlin this usually happens just before gear failure. I politely asked him to release the line which in all fairness he was only doing to try and help. With one spear through and one deeply lodged along with bouys attached you realized we might just land this fish. After lots of swimming and the retrieval of lines I was within 10m of the fish. It was lit up in the most vivid blue and purple, something one only finds in the ocean. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Gary take aim carefully and ending the fight placing his spear in the right place.

Fred Bester and Gary Williams
Fred Bester and Gary Williams with the great black Marlin

The conclusion and charity

As I laid there in the water touching this magnificent creature I could not help thinking how much I would like to let him go so that he could swim off. I have educated myself on the impact of what I am doing and am comfortable in my choices. I only needed to take one marlin in my life and this very memorable one was it.

Fred Bester with the great black Marlin
Fred Bester with the great black Marlin

The fish was distributed to friends and family and 80kg of the meat was given to house for handicapped people where it served as part of 3 meals.

Close up of Fred Bester with the great black Marlin
Fred Bester and Gary Williams on the boat after the successful catch
Fred Bester and Gary Williams on the boat after the successful catch

Thank you Gary, Stephen and Jacques.”