News from Around Banderas Bay | March 2009
|Fourth-Grader's Determination to Outfight Huge Marlin Paid Off|
Ray Sasser - Dallas Morning News
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If Ernest Hemingway wrote about Travis Carter, the story might be called "The Young Boy and the Sea." As in Hemingway's classic tale, the dramatic opponent would be a huge marlin, but the updated story would have a happier ending.
Travis, a fourth-grader at Episcopal School of Dallas, was 9 on Jan. 2 when he cleared Puerto Vallarta aboard his grandparents' custom sport fishing boat. He was fishing with his father, Todd Carter, and his uncle, Serge Salinas. The boat captain was Danny Ghalain, and there were two mates aboard.
Even at his young age, Travis was experienced at offshore fishing. He had already caught a variety of species as big as 40 pounds. Todd Carter said he's never seen anyone with as much passion for hunting and fishing as his young son.
"Travis caught a fish on a fly on his very first cast with a fly rod," Carter said. "He shot his first buck and his first dove at age 7 and his first quail [two with one shot] at age 9. He's always had patience, focus, desire and respect for the game."
Carter said Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is not known for winter fishing, but a few marlin had been reported in the area. Even when the fishing is good, marlin are never easy to catch. The boat accounts for about 12 marlin a year.
Although his father and uncle weren't expecting much to happen, Travis was fired up. While the adults lounged, Travis never left the big boat's fighting chair, his eyes riveted on the trolling baits skipping merrily in the wake.
About 11 a.m., Carter was alerted by the scream of a big-game reel. He rushed out and saw a blue marlin leaping 200 yards behind the boat. The fish had taken a bright orange and black trolling lure attached to a rod and reel spooled with 130-pound line.
It was not the kind of rig Travis could handle. Even if he could, at 70 pounds, the youngster would be fighting way out of his weight class.
Carter was about to push his son aside and take the rod, but he decided against it. "Travis was the one who wanted the marlin; he was the one who never left the cockpit, and now I had to tell him he can't do it," recalled the father.
As if reading his father's mind, Travis pleaded, "Dad, I want this fish – I can do it."
That sealed the deal. One of the mates placed the heavy rod in a gimbal mount attached to the fighting chair.
"The fish jumped; the fish sounded. The fish jumped some more, and through it all, my very determined son reeled as if his life was on the line," Carter said. "The captain backed the boat, and Travis reeled, never giving any slack."
Thirty minutes later, the exhausted fish, 9 feet, 6 inches long and 300 pounds, was brought aboard. The Carters usually release billfish, but the mate determined this one would not survive anyway, so they boated it.
Back at Puerto Vallarta, a crowd quickly gathered to see the giant fish and the diminutive angler. Everyone seemed amazed – except Travis, who never doubted he would catch the marlin. In all likelihood, he is the youngest angler to catch a marlin so large.