Posts Tagged ‘Billfish’

Feb 2, 2012

San Juan IGFA Great Marlin Race: All Tags Report and a Record is Broken

 

 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 1, 2012 Contact: Jason Schratwieser, Conservation Director 954-924-4320 jschratwieser@igfa.org

The blue marlin from the IGFA Great Marlin Race traveled 4,776 nautical miles in 120 days

During the inaugural IGFA Great Marlin Race (IGMR) six satellite tags were deployed at the Club Nautico de San Juan’s 58th Annual International Billfish Tournament (IBT) that was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 5-11, 2011. Since that time anglers have waited patiently to see when and where the tags would pop up and start reporting information.

The first tag to pop up and report was from a fish caught by Norman Pichardo on IGFA Trustee Pepe Anton’s boat Amirita. Pichardo’s tag popped up October 23, 2011, 419 nautical miles (nm) from where it was tagged near the island of Aruba. Although the tag popped up early, this fish demonstrated an important lesson in the importance of proper revival techniques. Pichardo’s marlin had become tail-wrapped during the fight and was reeled in tail first. Because marlin must continually swim in a forward direction to properly have water flow over their gills so that they can breathe, the fish came up browned-out and in bad shape. First mate David Hernandez and IGFA Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser spent close to 10 minutes reviving the fish by holding on to it as the boat slowly idled forward to get water flowing over its gills. In time the fish’s color came back and it began to beat its tail, after which the fish was quickly tagged and swam off on its own, recording data with its satellite tag as it went.

The next four tags popped up over the course of the next month. Tag number two belonged to a 150 lb blue marlin caught by Charles Donato on the Islamar and popped up on November 20th, 178 nm southeast of where it was caught. December 7th saw two more tags report. Father and son team Antonio and Jaime Fullana landed a blue marlin on September 8th aboard the Bolita. When the tag popped up and reported, the Fullana’s fish had traveled east 589 nm from where it was tagged, putting them solidly in first place. The day after Fullana’s fish was tagged, lady angler Mariana Fuster hooked and landed a blue, which she dubbed “Vic,” on the Lucky Dog that was tagged by Jorge Rivera. Vic traveled 497 nm from where it was tagged which, at the time, placed Mariana in second place for the race. Rounding out 2011 on December 20th, the tag placed by Gerald Torres in the 80 lb marlin caught by Moises Torrent aboard the Batichica popped up 206 nm from its point of deployment – a fourth place finish at the time.

After Torrent’s tag reported, things were quiet and 2011 came to a close. At this point the only tag that had yet to report belonged to a sizeable 575 lb blue that was caught by Mike Benitez on the Sea Born and tagged by Eneau Agusta on September 7, 2011. Then it happened. On January 5, 2012 – exactly 120 days after it was deployed—Benitez’s fish’s tag popped off and began transmitting information. Dr. Randy Kochevar at Stanford University codirects the IGMR with IGFA and was stunned when he began reviewing the data. Benitez’s fish had traveled southeast some 4,776 nm from where it was tagged and crossed the equator to have its tag pop off near the coast of Angola, Africa.

“These are the kind of results we dreamed about when we first launched the Great Marlin Race program back in 2009,” said Kochevar. “This may be one of the longest, if not the longest, marlin tracks ever recorded on an electronic tag. To have a marlin swim from the Caribbean all the way across the Atlantic and across the Equator to Africa reminds us how remarkable these animals are and how much we still have to learn from them.”

Travelling more than eight times farther than any other fish, Benitez’s fish became the clear winner of the San Juan IBT race. Unfortunately, Mike Benitez never got to hear the news. A beloved captain in Puerto Rico and the first tournament recipient of the IGFA-Chester H. Wolfe Outstanding Sportsmanship Award, Mike passed away in Boston just two days before his tag reported; he was 79 years old.

Anglers worldwide can view all the results of the IGMR on the interactive map at http://igmr.igfa.org/  The next tournament in the IGMR will begin in February of 2012 in South Africa at the South African Deep Sea Angling Association Classic. For more details and sponsorship information, contact Jason Schratwieser at jschratwieser@igfa.org or 954-924-4320.

For further information, contact the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum, 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach, Florida 33004; phone 954-927-2628, fax: 954-924-4299, website: http://www.igfa.org/.

 

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

Aug 31, 2011

Guy Harvey Art to Support Marlin Conservation

Guy Harvey art supports efforts to the IGFA and NCMC in their "Take Marlin Off the Menu" effort

Marlin populations throughout the world are being wiped out by commercial overfishing.  Concerned about the health of billfish fisheries, the IGFA and the National Coalition for Marine Conservation joined forces in 2008 to create the “Take Marlin off the Menu” campaign. In just two short years, the campaign gained the support of such luminaries as Wolfgang Puck and the Wegmans Supermarket chain – as well as the attention of U.S. policymakers. Their support hinged largely on an Economic Analysis of International Billfish Markets which shows that the economic value of the U.S. billfish trade is almost nil in relation to the rest of the U.S. commercial fishing industry.

This new marlin artwork from Guy Harvey was created to support this important effort.  It is currently illegal to harvest or import Atlantic-caught billfish into the U.S., but fish caught in the Pacific Ocean flood into U.S. markets in substantial numbers, threatening the survival of these fisheries. The Billfish Conservation Act of 2011 (S. 1451 and H.R. 2706), introduced into Congress on July 29, would close U.S. commercial markets to Pacific billfish, preventing their sale and importation (excluding Hawaii and Pacific Insular Island Area). In short, this important bipartisan legislation will help restore billfish populations and improve recreational fishing opportunities while concurrently creating jobs and other economic benefits.

Your support of the Billfish Conservation Act would close the U.S. to commercial billfish harvest, importation and sale. It would have a negligible impact on the commercial industry in the U.S. while helping increase the abundance of these important apex predators as well as the value of the recreational fishery, which brings in billions of dollars annually but has a minimal impact on billfish populations.

To learn how you can help support this important Take Marlin off the Menu effort please contact the IGFA at www.IGFA.org or NCMC www.savethefish.org

— Bill

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

Mar 7, 2011

Small Lures For Billfish

Bait and switch, also known as pitching bait, is a great way to fish for world records.  By trolling hookless lures as teasers then throwing out a bait on the appropriate line class results in almost every bite being a potential world record.  It is also an exciting way to fish for billfish.  It is dramatically NOT the most efficient way to catch billfish!

 “That was a cluster!” is often the last word from a frustrated captain, who could see it all unfold and come unraveled.  The average amateur crew will foul up far more fish than they can catch when using bait and switch.  Artificial lures are the way to go if you do not have an expert, professional crew and want to catch billfish on light tackle.  AND, you should be able to catch at least half the fish that bite your smaller lures. 

For tag and release angling on sail fish, white marlin and striped marlin, use small lures and small hooks. There is no need to free spool the lures.  Instead, hold the rod tip high over your head and drop the rod tip rapidly down toward the fish when you see it start to strike.  This technique throws several feet of slack into the line and allows the fish to get the lure and hooks into its mouth.  It is called “Rod Tipping”.

I use lures even on light line.  When I am trying to find a body of fish in tournaments, even with 12 lb. and 16 lb. line, I troll lures.  The lures I use have heads with a diameter at the forward tip of the head of, at most, 9/16” to 3/4”.  Flat heads pull easier than slanted heads or cupped heads. Nothing makes more fuss or pulls harder for a given diameter than a cup-headed “chugger” lure. They are great lures but need to be used at slower speeds if used on light line.

Slant faced lures, “straight runners” or plungers are intermediate between chuggers and cylinders. Even the largest cone shaped lure heads pull surprisingly easy. The diameter of the tip of a cone shaped lure is almost zero and a light lure will tend to plane along the surface. “Green Machines” and Moldcraft “Hi Speed” (A terrible misnomer as it is awful over 7 or 8 knots.) are true cone shapes and pull lightly enough to use on 6 pound line! 

Truncated cones like MoldCraft “Wide Range” and other similar lures, truly cylindrical lures like the  MoldCraft “Hooker” or “Four Eyed Monster”, as well as many excellent  similarly shaped  custom lures, are very stable even at very high speeds (up to 17 knots) if the length of the head is 3 times the diameter. Head diameter, lure weight and trolling speed determine how hard the lure pulls and what line classes can be used with that lure.  With long 10” or 12” skirts and a truncated cylindrical head shape no more than 5/8” in diameter, I would happily fish at 8 knots for any billfish up to at least 100 pounds on 6 or 8 pound line.  With a pair of 5/0 to 8/0 hooks on similar “needlefish” lures, the average angler should catch over half the billfish that bite on 12 pound test—much better than all, but the most expert anglers can achieve on dead natural bait.    

The limiting factor on how big a lure you can pull is ultimately related to how hard the lure pulls at 8 knots.  Light monofilament stretches up to 30% and light rods bend under tension, then spring back when the tension is released.  A lure that surfaces and comes partly clear of the water, pulls less hard for a fraction of a second.  In that time, the stretchy nylon contracts and the rod straightens out and the lure is catapulted toward the boat.  This is unacceptable!  It results in tangled hooks and leaders, causes high rpm spins, and on very light line, can cause a broken line because the lure is now being pulled sideways through the water.  Some so-called experts hate lures because novices that use them commonly beat the pros in tournaments!

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

Feb 16, 2011

Guy Harvey on “The Atlantic Sailfish”

The most outstanding characteristics of the sailfish is the enormous dorsal fin, which is much higher than the greatest depth of the body. Photo credit: Richard Gibson

The sailfish is the most common of the ten billfish species, and are distributed world-wide in tropical waters.  The average size of the Atlantic sailfish is 40-60 pounds and they are one of the smaller billfish species.  In the Eastern Pacific they grow twice that size reaching 200 pounds.  The outstanding characteristic of the species is the enormous dorsal fin which is much higher than the greatest depth of the body.  This fin is used to make the sailfish look three times the size it really is and is particularly used when corralling bait schools.  When working in tandem with other sailfish in what I describe as cooperative feeding, the sail is raised and used to keep the bait in a tight school which is then easily managed by predators.  In addition, they change color frequently, with dark blue backs and bronze flanks cut by vivid stripes when excited.  They are marvelous animals to paint, which is why diving with them is so important to capture the anatomy, color, movement and the thrill of the chase. 

In the western Atlantic, sailfish spawn in spring and summer.  The tiny fertilized eggs hatch and grow very rapidly, just as all oceanic fish species do.  The sailfish will reach six pounds in six months, and may be thirty pounds in their first year.  Tagging has shown sailfish will live as long as twelve years and make large seasonal migrations, though some will linger in good feeding areas for long periods.  They eat a variety of oceanic species, such as sardines, anchovies, puffer fish, filefish, flying fish, small tunas and bonitos, jacks and ballyhoo.  In turn, they have few predators, but the large sharks, such as the mako, tiger and bull sharks, have preyed upon sailfish, as do large blue marlin and some large toothed cetaceans, like orcas.  

Sailfish are the world's most sought after billfish and are common in the tropical Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans

There is little directed commercial fishing for sailfish in the Caribbean, but there is a lot of commercial long line activity in the eastern Pacific.  This is unfortunate, particularly in Costa Rica, where the recreational use of sailfish is much more valuable to the local economy as a living fish than as a protein source.  Socio-economic studies in Central America have shown the sailfish to be a very valuable sustainable resource in the catch and release fishery.  The use of circle hooks in this fishery ensures 99% survival, and so some countries, like Guatemala, have banned the landing of all sailfish.  There is currently an effort in Central America to have a regional approach to the management of the species, particularly as the species migrates extensively along the coasts of the member countries. 

My underwater encounters with sailfish and sardines were some of the most graphic and inspiring I have had in fifteen years of diving with billfish all around the world.  Underwater photography of these marvelous fish has become more exciting and educational compared to their angling value and provides a unique experience in certain locations. 

It is our collective responsibility to conserve all marine creatures and maintain the biodiversity of the planet. 

Good diving and fishing. 

Guy Harvey 

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

Dec 10, 2010

Cayman New Buoys Win Tropic Star Tournament

The 10th annual Torneo Tropic Star got off to a good start. Thirty-one boats registered, 12 from the world famous Tropic Star Lodge fleet, and another private 19 boats from Panama City, ran 150 miles to Pinas Bay, on the southeast corner of the Darien Province, Panama. Visiting teams of three anglers charter the TSL boats, and rotate to a different boat each day. Three teams from the Cayman Islands, four from Canada, two from Jamaica and four from the USA take all the TSL boats.

A lit up Black Marlin explodes from the water off Panama's Tropic Star Lodge

Cayman Islands teams were; Cayman Hard Buoys with Troy Burke, Tony Berkman and Andrew McCartney; Cayman New Buoys with Alistair Walters, Sebastien Guilbard and Marcus Montana.  The third team was Los Bamofos with Andi Marcher, Guy Harvey and Neil Burnie.

A practice day of fishing before the tournament begins gets everyone familiarized with the fishing techniques, crews, and tackle.  A few minutes after the start of fishing Alistair Walters hooked, fought and released a 300lb black marlin at the famous Pinas Reef.  Other teams went offshore while some stayed inside to fish for roosterfish, jacks and cubera snappers.

On Day 1, the Cayman Hard Buoys got off to a flying start with two blue marlin catches by Tony and Troy — a black marlin for Tony and a sailfish for Andrew — resulting in a PACIFIC GRAND SLAM; three different species of billfish in a single day.

Unfortunately, the first blue caught by Tony passed the 90 minute maximum fighting time as was DQed, but they jumped into the lead with two marlin and a sailfish anyway.  Cayman New Buoys also did well holding second place with Marcus releasing a 300lb blue and Sebastien a 450lb blue on their first day.  Los Bamofos scored a single sailfish, released by angler Andi Marcher.

Day 2 was a slow day for the Cayman teams except for Los Bamofos, when honorary Cayman angler Neil Burnie, from Bermuda, caught a fine 475lb blue marlin.  The other two Cayman teams did not add to their score.  Meanwhile, one of the Canadian teams pulled ahead with a total of three marlin releases, plus a magnificent 267lb yellowfin tuna.  In addition, the Jamaican anglers were closing in with 14 year old Nicholas Chen bagging two blues and a sailfish.

Day 3 got off to a slow start but once the captains located the schools of bonitos, live bait was now available.  Earlier in the day we had caught some 25lb yellowfin tunas and began pulling them live, hoping for a big black or blue marlin to take them.  Live baiting is the preferred method of fishing for black and for blue marlin on the Pacific coast of Panama.  The private boats from Panama City switched over to live bait fishing from pulling artificial lures once they saw how effective this method was at getting the bite.

A Black Marlin shakes loose the bridled bonito, but the circle hook stays in

The first blue marlin, caught by Los Bamofos, spent four excruciating minutes in the spread checking out all three baits, zipping back and forth and driving the crew crazy before it settled on the short bait.  Angler Andi Marcher took 40 minutes to subdue this active 500lb blue marlin, and Los Bamofos was now catching up with a tally of two blue marlin and a sailfish.

Cayman New Buoys also scored early in the day with a 300lb black marlin by Marcus.  Meanwhile, Cayman Hard Buoys lost a marlin, then had a double marlin bite hooking a 350lb black marlin which was caught by Tony Berkman, keeping them in third place. Right then, Los Bamofos lost two consecutive bites which would have put them in the running.

With fishing closing at 3p.m., Cayman New Buoys hooked and released their fourth marlin, a 450lb blue by Sebastien and now took over the lead from the Canadian team.  An hour from the end of fishing, Los Bamofos scored with a magnificent blue marlin, to put them into fourth place.

After three days of competition, Cayman New Buoys ran off with Team Most Points (1200), after their first visit to Tropic Star.  Canada came second (1000) on Time.  Cayman Hard Buoys placed third (1000) on Time, having finished fourth last year.  Team Los Bamofos placed fourth (1000) on Time. In total, the three Cayman teams contributed eleven marlin and two sailfish to the tournament total catch of 35 marlin and 9 sailfish.

Congratulations to the Cayman New Buoys!  This event is a qualifying event for the Bonnier-IGFA World Tournament of Champions held in May 2011 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  This angling event is sanctioned by the Cayman Islands Angling Club and the Cayman Islands International Fishing tournament held in April each year is also a qualifying event.  The winners go through to participate in this prestigious big game angling event. Good luck!

Guy Harvey

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

Mar 17, 2010

Do Billfish Use Their Bills To Help Capture Prey?

Anglers have known for some time that that broadbill swordfish do in fact use their bills to help them secure a meal.  For example, Southern California anglers have watched firsthand as swordfish cut their mackerel in half with a quick flip of the bill.

While sailfish are best known for their above water antics, Guy Harvey also depicts them below the water

While sailfish are best known for their above water antics, Guy Harvey also depicts them below the water

Marlin and sailfish, however, were a different story.  There had long been a debate as to whether or not marlin and sailfish actually used their bills to stun and then eat a bait, or did they simply use their bills as a balancing mechanism to assist in their swimming motion? 

When a marlin or sailfish rises in the spread and attempts to eat the trolled lure or rigged bait, the bill moves violently in that effort.  Some have thought that the fish were attempting to hit the bait with their bill while others have speculated that the bill played no part in the effort and simply followed the movements and direction of the fish’s excited and hungry mouth.  Even slow motion video of surface feeding billfish could not conclude this long standing debate. 

Two Sails

Feeding sailfish as witnessed firsthand by Guy Harvey

This long standing debate ended during an underwater filming expedition where I was able to not only witness firsthand, but also film on different occasions both marlin and sailfish using their bill’s to stun and catch meal.  It was a real thrill to witness off of Isla Mujeres using their extended dorsal fins to corral the bait into a tight school.  It was an even bigger thrill to then watch the sailfish make a distinct motion with their bill to hit and stun the sardines and then circle back to eat them as they sank away from the school. 

The ocean is full of exciting scenes such as the one described above.  I feel so fortunate to have been able to witness firsthand so many awesome moments underwater, and even more fortunate be able to make my living bringing those scenes to you through both art and film.  My painting Two Sails was created by taking what I witnessed firsthand, putting that to canvas, and then on to fishing t-shirts and other items.

Billfish Feeding from Guy Harvey Sportswear on Vimeo.

Mar 9, 2010

Oooops, That White Marlin is…not a White Marlin

A conundrum for management and conservation of one of the Atlantic’s most overfished oceanic species

Here’s an eye-opening tale of how little we really know about the diversity of life in our oceans. And why scientific information is so critical for sustaining our fisheries. A simple case of mistaken fish species identity has really messed up what we thought we knew about the magnificent, but severely overfished white marlin. Furthermore, this unrecognized mistake, which has occurred for decades, is raising serious questions about how we can better manage the white marlin to ensure its future survival.

White Marlin (top); Roundscale Spearfish (bottom)

White Marlin (top); Roundscale Spearfish (bottom) ©Guy Harvey Research Institute

So what’s this mistake? It turns out that for years, anglers thinking they were catching the prized white marlin may have caught an entirely different species instead! Just three years ago, a team of scientists from the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) at Nova Southeastern University and NOAA Fisheries in Florida made a startling discovery – they confirmed the existence of a previously unrecognized billfish species that looks very similar to a white marlin (see photo). Known as the roundscale spearfish, this new billfish species has now been found throughout the Atlantic Ocean, where its distribution overlaps that of the real white marlin.

Then in December 2009, the same scientific team reported that roundscale spearfish made up a significant portion (about 27%) of the commercial catch that was previously believed to be white marlin.

By now you may be asking, “what’s the fuss?” The problem is that because the existence of the roundscale spearfish was unrecognized until recently, its inadvertent misidentification as white marlin for decades makes past assessments of white marlin population sizes – which are based on fisheries catch data – inaccurate. Basically, what used to be called the “white marlin” was actually a mixture of two species!

White Marlin © Guy Harvey

White Marlin ©Guy Harvey

What does this mean for the future of the threatened, real white marlin?  Given huge concerns about its depleted populations, two petitions (in 2002 and 2007) to list the white marlin under the U.S. Endangered Species Act were considered.  If such a listing had gone through, it would likely have put an end to white marlin fishing tournaments, which infuse millions of dollars into the recreational fishing industry as well as local economies. Now the discovery of a look-alike species, realization of it’s long-standing mix-up with  white marlin, and the fact that it makes up a substantial portion of past “white marlin” catch, raises considerable confusion regarding the accuracy of our biological knowledge about white marlin and its population sizes. Two issues are clear: First, it’s back to the drawing board to figure out what the white marlin population size really is and how to better manage this species before its populations completely crash. Second, it also means that there is another large billfish species out there (the roundscale spearfish) that we know nothing about and that could very well also be declining rapidly due to overfishing.

I find it remarkable that the existence of a large billfish species in U.S. waters went unnoticed until just three years ago! This “oops” moment points to the urgent need for more scientific research about our planet’s oceans before we lose even more biodiversity.

The good news is that the scientific team from the GHRI and NOAA Fisheries is making fast progress on developing the tools and providing the information needed to help fishery managers better conserve the white marlin and roundscale spearfish. Thank you for your continued support of such important scientific research through the purchase of Guy Harvey sportswear. It makes a statement that you care about the welfare of our fragile oceans!

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Mar 8, 2010

Famed Angler Stewart Campbell Pulled Overboard by Marlin

The action in this amazing video includes not only a giant blue marlin taking the bait right up close in the prop wash, but also International World Record Holder Stewart Campbell being pulled out of the fighting chair, over the transom and into the drink.  Stewart and his team consisting of captain Bark Garnsey and wireman Charles Perry are far and away the best blue marlin team in the world.  This awesome footage shows that the unexpected can happen even to the best.

The “bait and switch” technique they perfected where the rigged bait and hook are slid back to the fish as the teaser (lure with no hook) is retrieved, makes not only for fishing success, but also for a visual thrill as the marlin takes the bait on the surface. The technique is explained in this video and Stewart’s Atlantic Blue Marlin  World Records of  336 lbs. on 6lb test, 562 lbs 8 lb test, 820 lbs on 16 lb, 714 lbs on 20 lb test and 872 lbs on 30 lb test are proof of just how successful this style of fishing can be when you have the right team in place to take advantage of it.

This video is presented by GuyHarveySportswear.com with permission from Stewart Campbell and from Charles Perry of Nautical Dreams.

Man Overboard | Marlin Fishing Featuring Stewart Campbell from Guy Harvey Sportswear on Vimeo.

Feb 10, 2010

Broadbill Swordfish Release

This amazing video shows a swordfish stuck in a blowout preventer of an offshore underwater oil rig being pulled out and released by a ROV.

Swordfish are considered by many to be the ultimate prize of the big game fisherman.  Known not only for their strength and stamina this magnificent game fish is also one of the oceans best tasting fish.  The IGFA All-Tackle world record swordfish was caught in Chile and weighed 1182 pounds.  The fish in this video is estimated to weigh in the 400 pound range.

Unlike marlin whose bill is round, the swordfish bill is flat and much like the Roman broad sword that was designed after the swordfish’s bill. Swordfish usually travel alone.  They use their bill for defense and to kill or stun prey such as squid and other deep water prey.  Swordfish are known to be very aggressive and have been known to attacked boats and even deep diving submarines.

Their very large eye allows them to see in the low light conditions of the deep water environment where they spend most of their lives.

One of my favorite fishing shirts featuring this beautiful marine animal is the Swordfish Strike T-Shirt available in long or short sleeve and a variety of colors.

Jan 20, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month | January 2010

My Quest for Blue Marlin

The month of January marked the beginning of my quest to catch a blue marlin each month from the waters around Grand Cayman, the tiny Caribbean island that has been my home for the last decade.  However, this is typically a busy time for me, and it wasn’t until the last week of January, in 2008, that I was finally able to break away for a day of fishing aboard my 26-foot Dusky Makaira.  A last minute decision meant that I would be fishing alone, and any hope I might have had of catching a marlin every month of the year was fading.  Still, I wasn’t going to let January slip by without at least giving it a try.

Guy Harvey testing trolling lures during his 12 month pursuit

Guy Harvey examining trolling lures during his 12 month pursuit

The day’s adventure began as I was trolling three miles west of North West Point, at a spot known as the pinnacle.  Surveying the boat’s wake where I had four lines out, I spotted a high dorsal fin streaking in behind the lure I had on the right short rigger.  The strike popped the rubber band with a satisfying slap and line started pouring off the reel.  I continued to throttle ahead at trolling speed to keep pressure on the marlin while I quickly cleared the three other lines and slipped into my fighting belt and harness.  This would be a challenge, as I was on my own — captain, mate and angler all rolled into one.

I braced myself against the console and spun my 26-footer to chase the marlin as it headed downsea, jumping magnificently in a series of head-shaking leaps.  Maneuvering the boat by using my left hand to both operate the throttle and steer the wheel, I faced the big fish off the starboard bow and was able to keep up with it until the marlin decided to sound.  After a spell, the fish changed tactics and popped to the surface ahead of the boat, where it started wildly jumping again.  Then it suddenly turned and charged the boat, which put me in a bad spot.  I cranked hard on the reel in an attempt to keep the line tight as I was running around the bow to keep my line clear of the outrigger halyards as the fish sped on by.

Prior to its release, Guy Harvey leaders and photographs his first Blue Marlin of 2008

Prior to its release, Guy Harvey leaders and photographs his first Blue Marlin of 2008

It was an exciting 20 minutes of fast-paced action before I finally got the blue to the boat.  For me, the first order of business was to grab the leader and wrap it around a cleat so I could free up my hands to take a photo of the beautifully lit-up 150-pounder.  I then quickly removed the hook from the marlin’s upper jaw, revived the fish for a minute, and after releasing my grip from the bill, watched it swim off like a rocket.  That was quite a milestone for me — my first blue marlin caught on the water alone.

After pausing a bit to savor the moment, I throttled the boat forward, methodically reset my lines, and trolled west to Twelve Mile Bank.  My day of fishing excitement wasn’t done.  Reaching the southwestern corner of the bank, I suddenly found myself hooked up with two jumping blues at one time.  I’ve never felt so shorthanded in my life, and proceeded to lose one of the marlin after just five minutes.  The other jumped all over the ocean before it finally broke the leader.  My body was shaking with exertion and excitement.  Fishing alone, I had hooked and fought three of these great fish, managing one — my first solo blue — to the boat for release.

And so, it was this remarkable day of fishing at the end of January that served as a starting point for the pursuit of my lofty goal of catching a blue marlin from Grand Cayman waters during each month of the year.  In quite an exhilarating fashion, my quest had begun.

Guy Harvey

Check this blog next month for my adventures in February, as I continue my quest to catch a blue marlin every month of the year.