But the tuna stopped, and she started reeling again. The fight went on and on, until the sun was low. I was dizzy from the sun and from standing up, but Mrs. Cunningham had three-quarters of the line on the reel and the fish was coming in steadily every time she lifted the rod, lowered it and reeled.
Then Paul said, "Double line coming soon. Get him on the double line and we've got him."
Mrs. Cunningham lifted and lowered, and finally Paul shouted, "Double line! Just coming up." The last 30 feet of line before the leader consisted of two strands woven together, and I could see the place where the line got thicker coming up through the water. Mrs. Cunningham was still working the rod as I followed the thicker line emerging from the water and over the roller tip of the rod. Paul said, "Leader coming up," and I looked down.
Down through the water I could see where the white and green line ended and the dark wire of the leader began, and then further down in the indigo blue I could see something huge and black. There was a glint of silver as if someone had tipped a casement mirror up toward the sun, and the biggest fish I had ever seen rolled over on its side.
Paul had a pair of heavy gloves on and he grabbed the leader wire with both hands and gently brought the fish up through the last few yards of water. Matello had the gaff in his hands. It was eight feet long, nearly twice as tall as he was. He leaned over the side and held the big curved hook down as Paul guided the fish to the side of the boat.
"Gaff him!" Paul said, and Matello brought the point up hard. Half of the curved hook went into the body of the fish and the tuna never moved.
"Hold the gaff," Paul said, and I took the aluminum pole from Matello. I held the fish on the gaff and looked at him lying on his side in the water. The weight of him on the end of the gaff felt impossible to lift, and I wondered how in God's name you got a fish like that into a boat.
Matello was hanging over a corner of the stern, almost in the water, with a piece of rope in his hands.
"What's he doing?" I said.
"Putting on the tail rope," Paul said. "Once it's tight around the base of his tail the fish is caught. He can't get away."