A MARLIN caught on the last cast of the last day in what may be the last time their boat went to sea ... the loyal crew of Lake Macquarie Game Fishing Club boat Running Bear couldn’t have scripted it any better.
Owner 83-year-old George Clift had decided earlier this year after a bout of poor health that he was getting too old for the caper.
His trusty Riviera, purchased six years ago, the second incarnation of the Running Bear series, was put up for sale.
Fearing they may not get another chance to fish with their old friend if the boat sold, skipper Duncan Manderson and long-standing crew Paul and Michael Shepherd, Jason Nunn, Michael Walker and Steven Riley decided to summon him down from his Gunneday property for one last assault.
And in a fitting send-off on June1, after a hard day on the water, as they contemplated heading home empty-handed, they hooked, tagged and released an 80-kilogram striped marlin for ‘‘one of life’s true great gentlemen’’.
‘‘You wouldn’t credit it,’’ Mr Clift said yesterday.
‘‘We were basically on our way home and it came out of nowhere. It was fantastic.’’
For the crew it was the perfect way to cap an era.
‘‘To catch a marlin on virtually the last day of the season in possibly the last time we fish with George was a true thrill and an honour,’’ Paul Shepherd said.
As they had so often over the years, the boys headed out through Swansea Channel at dawn to the shelf to try their luck.
It didn’t look like they’d have much after a fruitless run ‘‘down the edge’’.
Jason Nunn said just as they were thinking about heading the marlin smashed their lure around 2pm in about 94 fathoms.
‘‘George was summoned from the cabin where he was having a rest and took over the line,’’ he said.
‘‘The fish basically did everything that needed to be done to get the fish to the boat without a lot of fuss.’’
Michael Shepherd, Paul’s son, captured some amazing video footage of the marlin being tagged and then released.
‘‘You can say it’s fate, but there weren’t many marlin out there that day. It hasn’t been a great marlin season, and so for George to get one, for the fish to stay on the hook and for us to get the video ... I’m not sure if George is a religious man, but an experience like this gives a man faith,’’ Mr Nunn said.
Mr Clift reciprocates the affection.
‘‘I’ve got one of the best crews you could ever get.
‘‘They’ve always looked after me and I can’t complain.
‘‘You’ve gotta see how they work to appreciate it,’’ he said.