People like to talk about beginner’s luck, and in Olaf “Grimml” Grimkowski’s life, a double dose of this special kind of good fortune changed his life forever. In 1996 he caught his first marlin off the Azores. His girlfriend filmed him from the cabin, and Olaf looked over his shoulder every 30 seconds to make sure the camera was still running. It was good that he double-checked: His first fish was well over the 1,000 lb. mark. The gaffs were ready to go, but his fishing buddy Uli Laux, an experienced releaser, made it clear to Olaf that it was his decision alone as to whether the grander would have to die. Olaf spared the wonderful creature its life — with a heavy heart, but still.
St. Peter, the patron saint of anglers, later rewarded this bear of a man for his noble gesture: the year that followed, he was among the lucky few who experienced a run of giant bluefin tunas off Horta and was lucky enough to catch one. The fish clocked in at around 750 lb., and Olaf used a 130-pound tackle to bring it up to the surface without any fuss. “Just like that,” Uli grins, looking back.
Landing these two giant creatures made him hungry for more: Olaf and Uli put their money together and bought FLAMEN, an old 28-foot Chris Craft in anchorage in Horta in the Azores. The old lady needed a lot of attention. Uli recalls the time a fan belt tore on the banks of the Azores, and Olaf tried to replace it with a pair of women's stockings. “To this day I have no idea where he got them,” Uli said.
And then there was the new bilge pump which suddenly exploded as it was being installed, piercing Olaf’s forehead with sharp shards of plastic shrapnel. “Olaf came shooting out of the engine room, his head bright red with rage and blood. He looked like Hellboy.”
Eventually Olaf gave up his job as a printer and became a full-time mate and skipper. He spent glorious hours off the Azores, Ghana, Ascension Island, the Cape Verde islands and Croatia, kept learning new things, enjoyed successes and used his physical strength to lure marlin and tuna to his boat as easily as if he were beckoning a lap dog. The experience he gained in trolling for marlin, for example, is something he is glad to share with other skippers and big gamers. And on days when he's not fishing for work, he fishes for pleasure: trolling for salmon in the Baltic is one of his private passions.
Not only does he have a sixth sense for fish, “Grimml” also has an excellent eye for photography and a sensitive trigger finger he uses to take shots with his high-tech cameras at just the right moment. From up on his helm, he can sometimes capture brilliant sequences of marlins jumping, much to the surprise and delight of his clients. The freelance skipper works at Ascension Island, Cape Verde, Acores, Canaries and Croatia. He reports daily catches at his homepage http://www.marlin-web.com