Copy Writing - and a little Story Telling...

THE ART OF COPY WRITING IS DYING
AN UGLY DEATH...

A picture may well be ‘worth a thousand words’... but they work much better with a few creatively written words. 

We write professionally - our grammar is proper, and we can spell good...

And instead of boring you with a lot of clever advertising copy - we’ll tell you a story.  A fishing story...


BACKGROUND...

A fishing story that could have gone horribly wrong... A fishing story which was written a few years ago for Australia's glossy Blue Water Magazine - and featured in several newspaper Lifestyle sections - but which ultimately depended (for illustration) on a collection of other peoples' amateur photographs.  Be assured - we now use sophisticated digital SLRs (with back-up provisions!)

A link to those photographs - and what we did with them...

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Now - Read on....

FISHING STORY:   A FOUR MARLIN DAY...

Sure - I've fished a bit over the last couple of years, and religiously carried my rod tube (on business trips - as you do) through all of the Asia Pacific region.  Caught a few, but nothing to write home about - until this one...

It was to be a "thank you" gesture to my son's Year 6 teacher and Under 12 cricket coach - an impressive young bloke who went way beyond what even this "picky" parent would expect of anyone. Every kid should have an Andrew Philp in their lives.  Andrew had never been Marlin fishing before, neither had Colin Dobbie (another TSS father - with an unfortunate Scots accent) and Chris Hurst (my children's step-father).

Also along on the trip was Ken Douglas - a Melbourne Copper who has been my marlin fishing coach for 3 or 4 years - knows his subject well - but can't be trusted in a double hookup - always ends up with the fish.  Even the ones that start off on MY rod!  He can get from the tuna tower to a screaming reel faster than me - with a full glass - and not spill a drop. And he's bigger than me - much bigger than me.

As always we chartered Jim Dalling's ORCA - at varying times of the year Jim works between Lizard Island and the Gold Coast - and he's forgotten more about marlin fishing than most skippers will ever learn. His wife told me that - and any one who has fished with Anne knows better than to argue.  We left Marina Mirage at 0700 (which always seems a lot earlier than 7am) and headed South East from the Seaway to the 24 fathom line East of the Tweed bar - trolling a pattern of lures for bait - with no takers.

We finally found the bait schools and spent a couple of hours filling the tanks with some very large scalies and yellow tail.  And then we went fishing.  Don't know why - because it was only 0900 - and we've never caught a marlin before noon. Obviously the little TwinFisher near us lacked this level of experience - they had two marlin (about 150 lbs) tagged and released - and their bait tanks replenished by 1130.  Even the bottom basher cruise nearby had one on for quite a while - on an Alvey reel!  Just goes to show how stupid marlin are - a perfectly good game boat with all the latest gear in the vicinity - and they jump onto the paternosters!  Go figure.

So we get the cameras ready. We had LOTS of cameras. Old reliable cameras.  I had previously carried my little "you beaut" compact Pentax - 70 to 140 zoom - automatic everything - fits in the shirt pocket - no hassle to carry - little pain in the arse.  Fish jumping all over the horizon - point camera - press button - auto focus leaps into action - and 20 minutes later takes a perfectly focused picture of a hole in the ocean.  Roll after roll - trip after trip - holes in the @#$%ing ocean!  But this time was to be different.  I'd dusted off a trusty old Canon AE1 - cleaned the crap off the lenses - polished the UV filter - and chased a couple of spiders out of the motor drive.  It once spent a couple of hours at the bottom of St Hilda's pool - so a little salt spray wasn't going to worry it.  Uncoupled the motor drive and checked the "through the lens" metering - working like a bought one - loaded it.  Manually set the ASA rating - and switched off ALL auto facilities - this time we were going "hands on."  Chris had the best long lens (he pays retail) so he was in charge of long shots - I was to do the wide stuff - standard, idiot proof 55mm.

Then it was time to set the strike roster.  With this particular group of egos and prima donnas - one had to be very careful. Andrew was the guest of honour - he goes first - no arguments.  Chris & Colin could toss a coin for 2nd & 3rd - Colin has the more dominant (read - pushy) personality so no need for a coin - a Scot with a coin?  Ken would go next - to allow me to take the pictures.  Everybody happy?  It's nearly noon - time to get ready...  I helped Andrew into my harness and belt.  Not a difficult task?  Well - actually - yes.  We are different shapes you see - and considerable adjustments were required.  He lacks the advantage of my lower centre of gravity!  I put my camera strap around my neck and headed for the ladder - honest!  And then - right on cue (well - actually 15 minutes late) Jim shouted "Marlin in the spread" - and Flat 3 went off - big time.  Andrew headed for the rod.  Jim (again) "...and there's a shark after it."  I kept heading for the ladder - trust me!  Two hands on the rail - one foot on the first step.  Left rigger goes off - right under my armpit...

So - what would YOU have done?  Andrew's busy with his marlin - Chris and Colin are upstairs talking about whatever City Council executives talk about on their day off (not an awful lot presumably) - and (for once in his life) Ken was nowhere to be seen.  I ripped the camera off and shouted for someone to take it - someone did - I grabbed the rod - hit the lever - set the hook - and gave it plenty.  The toilet flushes - Ken emerges - "how come Andrew's got your camera and you've got his fish?"  Andrew?  My camera?  Oh - Shit!  Andrew says "We can swap - we can swap - the marlin's gone - I'm all belted up"  It's a bit hard to explain IGFA rules when you're tied on to the shaky end of a very pissed off hammerhead...  Ken was VERY helpful - announcing to the now gathered ship's company that HE would take the photos - just in case it was the day's only fish...  He also said some unkind things about me once (a while ago) taking a large chunk of a 5 day charter to subdue a 700lb bronze whaler - but I wasn't listening.  It was actually 1.5 hours - but this one was only a baby - and 10 minutes later we tagged and released a 150lb hammerhead - and one (very) embarrassed host mumbled apologies to his guest - and exiled himself to the upper deck - swearing never to return until everyone else had caught a marlin.

Big call?

So - I settled in upstairs - checked the cameras - and wondered why Ken had only taken one picture of my struggle with the little shark - but Jim interrupts the thought process... "marlin in the spread - a good one."  Deckie (Steve) lifts Flat 2 and points - freespool - freespool - gently eases up the drag - little more - little more - fish coming up - little more drag... It didn't jump - it just oozed upwards - 20 meters back - up - up - then sideways - through the lines - knit 3 - pearl 4 - 250 to 300 lbs skimming sideways.  MAGIC pictures - click - wind - click - wind...  Andrew's clipped in and doing everything dead right - Ken by his side - coaching - cajoling.  Steve has the tag pole at port arms - lurking.  Jim backing down - walking sideways - black smoke - diesel fumes - click - wind - click - wind... and the marlin had read all the right magazines...  posed against the Gold Coast horizon - working the light angles like a super model.  MAGIC pictures - did I say that before?  And never more than 50 meters out - so I shouted to Chris to concentrate on Andrew - get the face shots - I had plenty of good fish pix.

Andrew, by now, had been at it for 45 minutes and was starting to look a lot unlike the fitness freak you would expect a private school sports master to be - decidedly shop soiled... Ken reaches over and eases up the drag - just a little - and calls for a big final effort - in VFL talk.  Two Melbournians together - one nearly dead - the other full of bullshit - and they're talking football?  Or what they delude themselves with as football.  But it seems to work.  Steve lunges - tag in - Rob (2nd deckie) gets wraps - Ken leans over and eases off the drag - click - wind - everybody - click - wind - fish continues to pose - big smile - circle hook - nice and clean in the corner jaw.  Cut - splash - gone.  Andrew's first marlin - 280lb!  High fives all round - slapped backs - huge rum and ginger beer - more dark than stormy - all that silly stuff...

While the 2 virgins and the newly converted game fisherman are doing all the emotional stuff inside - the two old hands (well... Ken and I) are knowingly sharing a rum on the deck - reliving our own first times (and emotions).  "Didja get the pitchers?" "Yup - magic ones - (checking) - 28 on a roll of 24 - pretty cool huh?"  "Better change the film now - shouldn't push my luck."  New baits out - rum stowed - I'm back "up top" changing the film - Chris is in the cabin also reloading - Colin is on strike - and Ken's giving him some pre-race tips - confusing him no doubt... Jim calls "Marlin on right rigger - and Marlin on flat 2."  Right rigger screams - Deckie grabs it and sets the hook - huge birdsnest! - sorts that out and buckles Colin in - rod pops out of bucket - and for a moment Colin forgets that it's an overhead - can't get it going with his left hand - finally gets it re-seated right way up in the bucket - and gets a tight line back - and looks for help - help? - they're all busy...

While Steve was introducing Colin to a little light bondage - Flat 2 went off - far too close to Ken.  But Ken - being the most experienced of all of us - knew instinctively that this was a false alarm - one greedy fish taking two baits - right?  Crashed the drag all the way up to sunset - grabbed the rod - and whacked it several times - HARD - to break the line and give the fish back to Colin.  Always a generous soul, Ken.  Smart too - he quickly figured out that the fish jumping madly towards him was probably not the same one that he could see galloping across the waves towards the Surfers skyline.  "Chris! Put that (bleep) camera down and get here - you're on!"  Jim, of course, had figured all this out ages ago - and by the time Chris took up the slack line (and Ken got his bucket buckled) - Jim had Orca's starboard aft quarter within 20 meters of the fish's freckle.

Now - your photographer (he with plenty of pictures already - magic ones) was vaguely aware that he was the only one still holding a camera - but frankly I was enjoying the whole scene below far too much to want a view finder obscuring the view.  Oh sure - I did snap a couple of Chris' marlin desperately trying to escape the demon Dalling reversing down on him - and a couple of Colin looking over his shoulder - trying to figure out why he was being ignored - and 1 or 2 of his fish trying to attract his captor's attention with some quite amazing acrobatics - but I already had all that good stuff in the can.  I did however start shooting again when things started to get REALLY funny.

The combined efforts of Chris on the reel and Jim on the helm had quickly closed the gap between fish and fisherman - Rob (2nd deckie) wanted to try his hand/s on the trace - Steve was arguing that point when he sunk the tag home - tag pole was a straight down vertical shot - fish came up to meet it - right up - and (just like in the song) shook itself about - and then down (where else?).  No problem with any of this - except that no one had told Chris that when the deckie "had wraps" - to back off the drag... It was a remarkably quick release! - and Steve went off at Chris almost as loud as the rod snapping - until he probably realised who had done the earlier first-timers' briefing.  He quickly regained his composure - and moved over to see how Colin was going.  Chris was left holding a recently customised "2 piece" 24kg rod - and a tag card which told him he had just caught his first marlin - 150lbs in slightly less than 5 minutes.

How was Colin going?  Colin wasn't going anywhere.  By now he had about 100 metres out - straight down.  His fish - obviously miffed by the total lack of attention - went deep - and stayed there for quite a while.  And - for a while Colin performed as the front row forward he recently was.  But - as the shoulders drooped and the knees buckled - he started to speak pure Orstrailian for the first time in his life.  He was still holding the rod when Jim managed to plane the fish back to the surface - but was quickly losing interest in the job at hand.  There followed an interesting joint venture between him and a still fresh - still belted up Chris - but Chris couldn't have contributed much - because Colin got the tag card.  His first marlin - 200lbs - 25 mins.  According to Colin at the last brown ale - it took 2.5 hours!

So it's 4-3-3 and Ken is on strike.  I put away the camera - we had already negotiated a quiet little deal (so long as I kept quiet about it) that he could use some of Andrew's (magic) pictures.  Hell - I've used some of Ken's in the past - he gets better looking holes in the ocean than I do.  We've fished the back deck together many times - and know how to keep out of each others space - and I knew something no one else knew - he had his lucky underpants on... and marlin #4 was just around...  Flat 3 screamed - wrong - it purred - since Chris's little accident it had turned into a beautiful Tiagra 50W on a new custom 24kg rod.  I had noticed Ken sneak it out of the private rack earlier - but said nothing - I was up next!  Back to the action.  No pansy harness for Ken - he's a big lad - and he probably wouldn't have bothered with a belt either - except that his underpants - whilst lucky - were also SILK - and very, very thin.  So I buckled him up - and left the master to his craft.  Actually Jim did all the work - positioned the boat beautifully - few lazy winds of the Tiagra - bit of encouragement from me - beautiful tag shot and wire work from Steve - and Ken had the gall to claim his 26th marlin. 200lbs in 10 mins.  Hah - big deal!

Now it's 5.4.4 (and don't forget the shark) - it's also 1600 - and it's my turn on strike.  I'm already in the harness - but it's going to take a while to re-size the straps - quick check to see that the Tiagra is still there - he's a sneaky bugger - and knows I hate Penns.  20 minutes pass - nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Quietest period of the day...  "Think you'd better borrow my lucky underpants brother" - "No thanks, but a rum might do it" - as a waiter he makes a good policeman - but he did go and get 2 very serious rums.  While Ken was getting the drinks, I noticed that both deckies were starting their clean up routine - and were not watching me - I managed to reposition Flat 3 and slip in (my own) TLD2-30 rigged with 50 - and slide in a Pakula Cockroach - back about 25 meters.  Drinks arrive - one big gulp and back to adjusting the straps - never did get that finished...

My TLD went off first - big squeal - just started easing up the drag - and the Tiagra goes off - Jim yells, "Two bloody big Wahoo" - so I back off the drag - hoping mine would run wide - don't know where that came from - never caught a Wahoo before.  Just started thinking about what I'd read of their hit and run ability - when CRACK!  Oh... Shit - no it's OK - I'm still tight and still losing line fast.  Things have gone very quiet to my left however - with Ken holding the blunt end of an 80lb Sampo swivel - shattered at the bearings.  There IS a God - and I have his GPS location!

So - down to work - get this thing in - pull up the little lever - easy - slowed him right down - turn him round - done - start winding - jeeeez this is too easy.  Apart from swinging wide - hard - both sides - he behaves rather well - not at all like the books say.  The arcs decrease and pretty soon he's just out of gaff range - which, when you think about it, is abso-bloody-lutely nowhere...  Steve leans out to test the gaff length - the Wahoo catches on immediately - and in a poomteenth of a second is 105 meters due East.  That's 100 meters of line - plus the beam of ORCA - I'm now sprawled - none too elegantly - over the opposite gunwale.  All that on 16lbs of drag?  The books are right - this is a serious fish.  10 minutes later - Steve pushed me (not too gently) aside - and lunged with the gaff.  It's as well that he connected first swing - I couldn't have got it back in - a third time.  But I didn't tell them that.  Ken administered last rites - the deckies got fresh baits out - and I finished the rum.  Then we fought about the size of the Wahoo - and I won - I'm writing this!  40 lb - wall to wall sashimi.  And when we cut the fillets up into five bags - no one was arguing.  I then had the first mental block of the day - just as I threw the frame over the transom - I recalled the Malaysian lady I had met a few weeks earlier - at a wonderful Curried Fish Head dinner - Bugger!

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We trolled for another 30 minutes - and then pulled the pin.  Hoisted four brag flags and headed North for the Seaway and back to Marina Mirage by 1800.  There WAS some mention - on the way back - about who caught what - and who was the only one not to catch a marlin - but they were quite restrained - they knew that I was the one with the photos - and they knew they were magic.  So we adjourned to the British Pub to discuss topics of common concern - the deckie's consistent under-estimation of fish sizes - by as much as 50% (it was getting late - early!) - why they don't have brag flags for shark and wahoo? - and how quickly could we get the photographs processed?

Chris and I put our films together and all 5 rolls went in at 1000 on Sunday - and I was there waiting at 1100 when 4 rolls came back.  "Mr Polson - you must have given us an unused roll by mistake - we didn't notice it until we finished printing them.  If it was any one less experienced with a camera than you - we would suggest that they had missed the take-up spool completely"...

Ferchrissake don't tell Ken - I've put these pictures up - just to save face.  The other 4 rolls had some reasonable shots - some almost excellent - but none of them magic...

Not even a hole in the @#$%ing ocean...



PRODUCTION NOTES:

Serious game fisherman - NEVER kill the marlin. They do however lust after that perfect photograph!  On this trip we caught four marlin (a pretty good day -  even in this part of the world) but no photographs - except the amateur efforts mentioned above... The only thing we could do, as a souvenir of the day, was to produce 5 photo-story boards - using smaller prints of those 'happy snaps.'  Those story boards (linked here) measure (including frame) 1000mm x 600mm - 40" x 24"  A perfect compromise solution for an embarrassing problem - and they look stunning on the wall.

We have been asked to do many more of them since!

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