Ed Gresham always has high hopes when he comes to Virginia Beach or the Outer Banks.
As a former Beach resident, he knows what kind of fishing area waters have to offer.
He just didn’t think this early in the season could be the time one of his trips would result in his first blue marlin catch and release.
Former Virginia Beach resident Ed Gresham fights his first blue marlin. At left is friend Steve Davis. (Courtesy of Ed Gresham)
Now he has one heck of a story to tell his trout-fishing buddies back in Montana.
“We were all totally surprised,” said Gresham, who was fishing out of Hatteras Landing Marina on Reel Escape Charters with Capt. Rob Loftis. “We were just hoping for some tuna.”
Yellowfin and blackfin tuna were being caught in good numbers before Gresham’s visit. Wahoo were starting to show, and a few billfish had been released.
Gresham and the others on Reel Escape had caught a couple of wahoo and one yellowfin when the blue marlin struck.
“It hit, and I was next up in the (fighting) chair,” said Gresham, a Portsmouth native who taught in the Virginia Beach school system for 40 years before moving to Bozeman, Mont., in 2005. “It was just screaming off line, but it never jumped.
“We just figured by how fast it was going that it was a big wahoo.”
It wasn’t until Gresham had the fish close enough for the mate to gaff that everyone realized it was a small blue marlin of about 90 pounds.
“He went to gaff it and stopped and shouted that it was a blue,” Gresham said. “It finally jumped right there at the boat and threw the hook… gone.”
Since the mate had hold of the leader, Gresham scored a catch and release.
“My first,” said the avid snow skier who visits Virginia Beach about twice a year to see family and friends – and get in a little fishing.
The blue marlin wasn’t the only thing to get away that day.
It’s traditional for an angler catching his first billfish to get tossed into the water back at the docks.
But Gresham managed to dodge the soaking.
“They didn’t really try,” he said. “I think the mate might have wanted to. But I was bigger than him.”