Joel Smithof San Diego California is an unassuming young man who opens doors for people. Literally. He’s the doorman at a large San Diego hotel and on his spare time he likes to spearfish. This past week Smith landed himself a 413 pound record Marlin just off the San Diego coast. He was 25 miles off the beautiful beaches of San Diego when he jumped off his friend’s boat to spear a few Dorado. Thats when he saw something big.
“I was going to take a shot at the tuna when I saw something coming straight up under me like a missile,” Smith said. “I could see it was a big marlin, and as soon as it saw me, it made a 180-degree turn toward me. But it stopped and postured up as if to say, ‘I’m the apex predator here, and you’re too close to my lunch.’”
Smith said everything went into warp speed as the marlin went broadside from him at 10 feet. His biggest fish ever with a speargun was a 100-pound yellowfin tuna he shot off Puerto Vallarta, so Smith had experience shooting big fish. But this fish was four times that one.
“It presented the perfect shot, and I decided to take it,” Smith said. “I hit it one foot between the eye and the lateral line. I knew I either stoned it or spined it. It went limp and floated belly up. But before I could do anything, it woke up. He took off and towed me. At that point I figured I just knocked him out.”
When the fish stopped again, Smith could hear his father, Andrew, yelling for him to swim as hard as he could to the boat. He did, and was five feet from the boat when the marlin came to and swam off with him again, this time, Smith was waterskiing behind.
“That’s probably when I was scared the most because I know marlin can attack, and I remembered reading about a spearfisherman who was killed by a swordfish,” Smith said.
But the marlin stopped one more time, and this time Smith swam with all he had left and made it to the boat. His father gaffed the line attached to the marlin.
“I figured that was my last chance to get him because he was getting stronger and stronger,” Smith said.
Smith, his father and Jeter traded off hand-lining the fish into the boat. Smith said he did most of it while Jeter continually chased the fish with the boat. After what Smith estimated was 2½ to 3 hours, they boated it, dragging it over the stern after getting it on the swimstep.
“We were lucky because if there had been any kind of swell, we would have sunk the boat,” he said.