An angler named Thomas Paulsen pulled off an extremely uncommon feat within the fly-fishing world final week. Whereas fishing a reef in a distant nook of the Indian Ocean, Paulsen sight-casted to a swordfish with a fly rod and landed it with out the assistance of a ship or a gaff.
In a Fb submit he made after the catch, Paulsen known as it a “one in one million” achievement. This would possibly sound like an exaggeration, however it isn’t far off. Few anglers have ever landed a swordfish on the fly, and the overwhelming majority of these fish are hooked from a ship whereas trolling in deep water. Sight-casting to a swordfish on the flats or from the seashore is sort of extraordinary. (It’s occurred a couple of times, in accordance to a couple on-line boards, however there aren’t any information to talk of.) And as Paulsen now is aware of, efficiently touchdown a swordfish on foot with a 12-weight fly rod is a outstanding achievement for any angler.
Sticking a Swordfish on the Fly
The 48-year-old fly fisherman is predicated within the Maldives, a multi-island nation within the Indian Ocean southwest of Sri Lanka. He runs GT Fly Fishing, a information service that primarily targets large trevally, that are a worthy quarry in their very own proper. GT’s are in the identical household as jack crevalle, however they develop a lot bigger (upward of 150 kilos). The saltwater brutes take flies aggressively in shallow water. Additionally they have a fame for punishing fly anglers and destroying deal with.
Initially from Copenhagen, Paulsen tells Outside Life that he moved to the Maldives eight years in the past particularly to chase GT’s. And that’s exactly what he was doing early within the day on Feb. 13, as he waded a coral reef within the surf zone along with his information buddy Hassan Niyas. Paulsen was capable of sight-cast to a giant GT that morning, however he misplaced the fish inside 5 minutes when it wrapped the chief round a coral head and broke him off.
“Indignant and annoyed, I saved on wading alongside the reef,” Paulsen tells Outside Life. “About an hour handed once I all of the sudden noticed water splashing additional out [on the reef]. I assumed it was dolphins searching, however after a minute or two the splashing elevated, and I noticed a invoice come out of the water.”
At first, Paulsen although it was a sailfish chasing bait, which wouldn’t have been too far out of the abnormal. He explains that the reef wall he and Niyas have been on drops off to 1000’s of toes deep, making it an excellent ambush level for billfish and different apex predators.
“I began transferring towards the fish as quick as I might in waist-deep water,” Paulsen says. “The fish was offended, and [it was] searching one thing in shallow water.”
Nonetheless considering his goal was a sailfish, he watched it work towards him as he stood on the jagged coral. As soon as it acquired to 100 yards or so, Paulsen waded out to his chest and began casting a inexperienced and black streamer tied on an 8/0 hook.
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“After three or 4 70-foot casts, the fish got here at excessive velocity proper in the direction of my fly,” he says. “Earlier than I might even suppose to set the hook, my reel began screaming. The fish went proper down alongside the reef for about 200 to 300 yards earlier than it turned in the direction of the reef.”
Paulsen’s 9-foot, 12-weight Winston Air was bent double because the backing peeled off his reel. However the fluorocarbon chief held quick and someway the fish stayed hooked.
“It went loopy between some coral rocks, splashing and rolling round, earlier than it beached itself in lower than a foot of water. However the drama was removed from over.”
Thrashing on the Reef
The fish thrashed and rolled within the rocky shallows, the place it acquired tangled in Paulsen’s chief. He ran towards the fish, cranking on the reel and gaining again line as shortly as he might.
“After I was about 20 yards away, I noticed it was not a sailfish, however a swordfish,” Paulsen says.
Niyas, who had seen the commotion, got here operating. Paulsen yelled at him to seize the fish’s tail, however as quickly as Niyas acquired shut, the swordfish lashed out with its invoice. He needed to leap backward to keep away from getting speared. Paulsen acknowledged the hazard they have been in, and as a lot as he needed to get his palms on the fish, he knew it could be too dangerous to attempt to wrangle a pissed-off swordfish because it flailed on the reef.
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So, the 2 anglers watched because the fish thrashed itself to demise on the sharp rocks. Then they loaded it into the small skiff they’d used to achieve the coral reef and made the 30-minute run again to their island headquarters. They measured the fish at slightly below 8 toes lengthy, and it tipped the scales round 102 kilos.
With that weight, Paulsen’s swordfish simply falls into the world-record class. The heaviest fly-caught swordfish, based on the Worldwide Sport Fish Affiliation, is a 77-pound, 14-ounce fish caught in 2001. As a result of Paulsen was utilizing 130-pound check tippet, the fish is just not eligible for an IGFA file. However for a lifelong fly fisherman, that doesn’t make the accomplishment any much less significant.
“That is with out query probably the most insane factor I’ve ever skilled in my 40 years of fishing,” he says. “I’m so grateful, and I can hardly consider what occurred in entrance of me and my pal.”