Posts Tagged ‘Marlin a Month’

Dec 17, 2010

Guy Harvey Marlin a Month | December

It was a frisky blue marlin like this one, creating a commotion alongside the boat, that completed Guy Harvey's quest to catch a blue marlin from Cayman Island waters during each month of the year

As December approached, I marveled at how fast 2008 had passed.  Though it was a year ago, it seemed like only yesterday that I had fancied my “pipe dream” of catching a blue marlin each month of the year from the waters around Grand Cayman Island.  Not that such an accomplishment wasn’t there to be done, because I was truly convinced that blue marlin could be caught year-round from my home waters.  It was just that for me to achieve such a feat, I would be bucking sizable odds, knowing that most of my fishing would be from my outboard-powered boat, and primarily confined to weekends only.  Right away, the new year began with such a busy schedule of various commitments that I barely made it out on the water at all in January, and when I finally did, I was fishing alone on my then 26-footer Makaira. It was really only after I had caught my first “solo” blue marlin on that late January day that I concluded all things were possible — and so began my quest in earnest to catch one of these magnificent fish during each and every month of 2008. Now, here it was, almost a year later, and I needed to catch just one more blue marlin to complete my lofty goal.

December arrived, and with it our typical western Caribbean winter weather of cold fronts and rough seas.  The day before a cold front moves in marks your best shot of getting out on the water to catch fish, so you must drop everything else you’re doing if you are to take advantage of the weather window.  That’s what my guest Dr. Colin Wakelin and I did on an early December day as we took my 28-foot Scout Makaira II out to do some trolling just outside Rum Point.  We didn’t have to wait long, as we got our first bite while I was putting out the third lure in my five-lure spread.  The hungry marlin actually snatched the line right from my fingers!  Wakelin is from New Zealand, but had been working on Grand Cayman for four years.  We had fished together before, and he’d hooked blues but had never converted.  On this day, however, he finally scored.

Wakelin brought the very active fish to the boat rather quickly, where it gave me a good blow to the right wrist (my painting hand) while I was leadering it — reminding me not to be in too big of a hurry to remove the hook from a green fish.  But the sting was short-lived because of the exhilaration that came over the two of us.  Wakelin had finally caught his first blue marlin, and his fish, the 17th blue that had been caught aboard my boat during the calendar year, completed my quest to catch a blue marlin during each month of the year.  In all, with an assist from family and friends who accompanied me, I managed a remarkable 24 hookups from a total of 26 bites.  Not bad for a weekend fisherman trolling from an outboard-powered boat.

Guy sets his trolling lines for a new year of fishing adventures

Of course, the personal challenge of my quest is what drove me, spurred on by each successive month of catching a fish. However, I was also pleased with having demonstrated that the Cayman Islands are host to a year-round blue marlin fishery, a fact that I hope will ultimately help in promoting increased interest in our local sport fishing.  What I hadn’t counted on was the number of incredible memories and milestones that would be associated with my pursuit. During 2008, I was able to, on more than a couple of occasions, assist friends in catching their first blue marlin; was witness to some memorable, if not amazing billfish battles while fishing from my own boat;  and shared some very special days on the water with my wife, Gillian, and our two teenagers, Jessica and Alex. I’ll never forget the rare juvenile blue marlin that Jessica caught during September.  Only days later, Alex was aboard and assisting me in catching the largest blue marlin I’ve ever fought from my boat.  Of course, the year began with my first “solo” catch of a blue marlin, and during April, I was part of a fishing team that accomplished a first — catching a blue marlin from a sailboat during a Cayman Islands tournament.  And most memorable of all was the amazing October day I spent fishing with young Evan Taylor and helping his “Make-A-Wish” come true.  It was a remarkable run in 2008, and I hope you derived as much pleasure in reading my monthly accounts as I did in reliving them.

To all of my friends, good health and good fishing in 2011.

— 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

Nov 18, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month | November

A handsome blue marlin takes to the air

As November arrived, I could begin to see that my goal of catching a blue marlin from Cayman Island waters during each month of the year was well within my grasp.  What I didn’t see, though, was sneaky Hurricane “Paloma.”  That was partly because hurricane season in the western Caribbean is generally all but over by November.  Additionally, significant storms don’t commonly steer toward the Caymans from the southwest — all of which is why no one was paying a lot of attention to a tropical depression off the east coast of Nicaragua at that time of year.  But on November 6, that depression evolved into Tropical Storm Paloma and quickly gathered strength, becoming a small but powerful hurricane as it buzz-sawed its way northeast and straight for the Caymans.  On November 7, Hurricane Paloma “scraped” by Grand Cayman and then spun east as a category 4 storm for a direct hit on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac early on November 8.  Sustained winds of 150 mph, nearly 18 inches of rain, and an 8-foot tidal surge caused an estimated $15 million in damage, mostly to the two smaller islands.  However, that paled in comparison to the $300 million in damage the storm accounted for when it eventually made landfall in Cuba.  As it turned out, Paloma became the second most powerful November hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin.

Needless to say, that was an eventful way to begin the month, but with all of the excitement and cleanup associated with the storm, it was the middle of November before I was able to spend a full day trolling for blue marlin at my destination of choice —  Twelve Mile Bank.  Fishing from my 28-foot Scout Makaira II with Matthew Kinsella, we scored an explosive strike on the left short rigger, followed by Kinsella’s battle with his first blue marlin, a handsome 150-pounder, which we released at boatside.  Watching Matthew bring his fish to the boat caused me to flash back on my first ever blue marlin catch, a fish that was about the same size as the one I leadered for Kinsella.

Guy Harvey's "Triumph" is his latest t-shirt design portraying Hemmingway's classic "The Old Man and the Sea"

My fascination with blue marlin began at an early age while fishing with my parents around our home island of Jamaica. I remember what some might call a life-altering event at the age of nine while I stood in a boat cockpit next to the blue marlin that my mother had just caught.  The great fish was aglow with its vivid blue stripes, and I found myself eagerly drawn to studying every detail of that marlin.  I had already read Hemmingway’s The Old Man And The Sea many times, and here in front of me was the fish I held in highest esteem.  From that point on, I set my sights on catching a blue marlin of my own:  I worshipped this magnificent creature!  But that was not to happen for another nine years, as my education became the top priority.

While attending boarding school in England, I fed my craving for fishing with prolific paintings of the fish of my dreams.  I was fortunate that the school had a wonderful art teacher, Gillian Cresswell, who encouraged my preoccupation with Caribbean marine life.  I struggled early on with my classes, and when I got aggravated, I retreated into my fish art.  In 1973, I was sent to a school in Edinburgh, Scotland, to improve my grades.  While making progress in my studies there, it was during those long, cold, lonely evenings that I also made steady progress on my series of drawings depicting The Old Man And The Sea — the same drawings that eventually helped launch my career as an artist.  That year was also when I caught my first blue marlin.

While back in Jamaica between school terms, I was invited by my father to compete in the Montego Bay and Port Antonio fishing tournaments, both of which our boat won.  It was on the fourth day of the Port Antonio competition when I finally hooked up, and after fighting the fish from a stand-still in a dead boat for 40 minutes, I landed my first blue marlin, a fish weighing 145 pounds.  On the final day of competition, I caught a small 77-pound blue — which was enough for our boat to place first in the tournament — and then while trolling home the next day, I caught another fish.  After several years of trying without success, I had caught three blue marlin in three days.  I was thrilled, and remain thrilled to this day with each blue marlin I catch, admire, and return to the sea.

— Guy Harvey

Check this blog next month for my adventures in December, 2008, as I attempt to complete my quest to catch a blue marlin every month of the year.

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

Oct 14, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month | October

Though successful through September, continuing my streak of catching a blue marlin from Cayman Island waters each month of the year had become increasingly challenging, mostly due to a very busy schedule and weather conditions that had allowed for limited time on the water. However, with the arrival of October, I was brimming with confidence.  This is a month I always look forward to because migratory yellowfin tuna and wahoo typically start to show up on Twelve Mile Bank — and you can bet that when tuna are around, the marlin won’t be far behind.  Before month’s end, though, October of 2008 would prove especially memorable for me because of a particular day on the water that was rewarding in ways that were much more meaningful than simply my year-long marlin-a-month pursuit.

Guest angler Evan Taylor hooked up with an acrobatic blue marlin like this one aboard Makaira II in October to help keep Guy's streak of marlin-a-month intact

Earlier in the year, I had been contacted by the Central/Northern Florida chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, asking if I would be willing to help make a youngster’s wish come true?  The mission of the Make-A-Wish Foundation is “to grant the wishes of children with life threatening medical issues to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”  In this case, it involved Evan Taylor, a 14-year-old from Pensacola, Florida, who loved to paint and fish, but was suffering from lukemia.  When asked what he wished for, Evan said he wished he could meet Guy Harvey.  I was flattered to hear that, and without hesitation, said “yes” to the Make-A-Wish Foundation request.  In fact, I told them if Evan would come to Grand Cayman Island, I was willing to do more than just meet the youngster…I’d take him fishing…and we set the date.

On the morning of October 11, I loaded the gear into my 28-foot Scout Makaira II, including some souvenir Guy Harvey by AFTCO Bluewater T-shirts for my guests, and motored from the dock to the beach in front of the Westin Casuarina hotel, where I picked up young Taylor and his family.  Following introductions, and then getting everyone settled in my boat, I put out the lines and we all had some time to get better acquainted as we trolled west down to Twelve Mile Bank.  As luck would have it, on the first pass at the southwestern corner of the bank, a blue marlin crashed the left long rigger and the excitement began.  With rod in hand, Evan was already working hard on the fish as I quickly got him into the harness and spun the boat around.  The blue stayed up near the surface where everyone on board witnessed several dramatic jumps before we eventually brought the 140-pound marlin alongside the boat and released it.  To say Evan was stoked is an understatement!  We continued trolling and scored another bite in nearly the same spot, only that fish came free in midair.  Later in the afternoon, young Taylor caught a 30-pound wahoo, which we kept, and upon our return to George Town, took the fish over to their hotel restaurant, where Evan’s catch was prepared so that we could all enjoy a very special fish dinner.

Guy Harvey's dramatic painting "Deja Blue" illustrates why Guy looks forward to marlin fishing in October when yellowfin tuna move into Cayman Island waters

During our time on the water, it was evident that Evan loved to fish, but he also explained to me his passion as an artist, and his goal of someday becoming a marine biologist.  With that, I couldn’t let the day end without giving the Taylor family a tour of the Guy Harvey Gallery & Shoppe in George Town, plus a visit to my studio, where I gave Evan a few tips about painting.  Later, the folks at the Make-A-Wish Foundation forwarded a note they had received from Evan Taylor’s mother:  “The water was so beautiful and Guy was very gracious.  He served as a host, deckhand, captain and mentor.  The past year was such a rollercoaster going through Evan’s illness, and this was truly a time of no worries and beyond what we could imagine.”

Actually, the whole experience of helping to make Evan Taylor’s wish come true went beyond what I imagined it would be, as well, and fishing with the youngster and his family was and will always remain one of my most gratifying days on the water.  For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation and to locate any of the chapters throughout the U.S., visit their website at www.wish.org.

— Guy Harvey

Check this blog next month for my adventures in November, 2008, as I continue my quest to catch a blue marlin every month of the year.

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, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month | August 2010

While being leadered at boatside, a beautiful blue marlin cooperates for a photo before being released

Curiously enough, the middle of summer, when there are plenty of fish around, was proving to be the most difficult time of the year to continue my quest to catch a blue marlin each month of 2008 from my home waters around Grand Cayman Island.  My fishing time in July was so restricted by my busy work schedule that I felt very fortunate to catch my one and only blue marlin on a weekend excursion squeezed into the middle of the month.  I feared that my prospects for success in August, given an already full schedule of commitments, would be no better, if not worse.  That’s why I wasted little time getting out on the water as the new month arrived, and on August 3, I was able to catch-and-release a blue marlin.  As was the case in July, this turned out to be my only fish of the month, but it extended my streak, and it allowed me the peace-of-mind to concentrate on my many other tasks at hand during the remainder of August.

As much as catching a blue marlin was my focus on that August day, I was abruptly reminded of all I love about the sea and her many creatures when I came upon a number of sea turtles on my return trip to the harbor.  I slowed the boat to admire these magnificent creatures as they effortlessly glided just below the water’s surface, and caught myself mesmerized in the moment in much the same way as the old fisherman Santiago was when he encountered feeding turtles in Hemingway’s classic “The Old Man And The Sea.”  As the sea turtles moved on toward the island’s coral reefs, I couldn’t help but ponder if what I had just witnessed was much the same as Christopher Columbus would have seen as the first to discover the Cayman Islands in 1503 on his fourth and final voyage to the New World.  After all, Columbus named the territory “Las Tortugas” because of the abundance of sea turtles he found on and around the island archipelago.

The Caymans consist of three islands — Grand Cayman (by far the largest), Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman — and are located in the western Caribbean about 150 miles south of Cuba and 167 miles northwest of Jamaica.  The islands are limestone outcroppings at the top of a submarine mountain range today known as the Cayman Ridge.  Much of the islands are only a few feet above sea level, and surrounded by coral reefs and crystal clear waters, they have long served as ideal habitat for sea turtles, which in turn served as a primary food source for the first explorers and early settlers.  Long after their discovery by Columbus, the islands came under British control when Oliver Cromwell captured Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655.  The islands officially became a part of the British Empire under the Treaty of Madrid in 1670, and for the next 300 years, were administered as a dependency of Jamaica.

Guy Harvey's "Pirate Shark" is one of his most popular AFTCO Bluewater T-Shirt designs, and representative of a portion of the colorful history of the Cayman Islands

In 1668, an attempt was made to inhabit Little Cayman and Cayman Brac by early settlers, but they were forced to return to Jamaica because they could not be protected from ruthless Spanish pirates.  In those early days, the Cayman Islands played a significant role in the piracy that gripped the Caribbean.  The islands were remote, offered plenty of turtle meat, fresh water, and a safe haven for unscrupulous legendary characters like Henry Morgan and Edward “Blackbeard” Teach.

It wasn’t until the 1730’s that the first permanent settlements were established.  Up to that point and for centuries thereafter, the islands continued to be known to mariners as “Las Tortugas,” and is where they came to harvest live turtles and their eggs as a source of protein for their long voyages.  Couple that with a relentless commercial harvest, and the Cayman turtle population suffered greatly.  It wasn’t until 1968 that the problem was addressed with the development of a turtle farm to replenish natural stocks and supply local demand for turtle products.  By 1978, the farm had achieved its objective of having enough broodstock to be self-sufficient and economically viable.  The Cayman Island government has owned and operated the Cayman Turtle Farm since 1983.  Besides being a major tourist attraction, the farm is a well-respected research facility with a highly effective breeding program that has released tens of thousands of sea turtles into the sea, each tagged for research purposes.

It’s a happy ending for the sea turtles — and for my limited attempts at blue marlin fishing in August.  I did release the one fish to perpetuate my quest of catching a blue marlin during each month of the year, and though the last part of August was unfishable due to powerful Hurricane “Gustav” passing by, I was hopeful that I would find more fishing time during September.

— Guy Harvey

Check this blog next month for my adventures in September, 2008, as I continue my quest to catch a blue marlin every month of the year.

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

Jun 29, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month | June 2010

Guy Harvey and wife Gillian were rewarded on Father's Day with a double hookup. With lure in tow, this

Guy Harvey and wife Gillian were rewarded on Father's Day with a double hookup. With lure in tow, this blue marlin takes into the air

Besides being perhaps the best month of the year for blue marlin fishing around Grand Cayman, June holds some special memories for me of times past.  With all of the years I spent fishing around my home island of Jamaica, both as a youth and during adulthood, it was ironic that, while participating in a Cayman Islands Angling Club event in June of 1984, I recorded my first ever blue marlin release.  Back in 1983, the newly-formed Cayman club, under the leadership of the late James Bodden, began to promote a month-long fishing extravaganza, offering $1 million in prize money to the angler breaking the Cayman blue marlin record of 584 pounds.  Club organizer Bill Rewalt ran the event through all of June each year and attracted participation from anglers worldwide, putting the Cayman Islands on the Caribbean sportfishing map.  In the years to come, only two blues over 500 pounds were taken during the June contests, but none matched the record, so no one ever collected the $1 million prize.  The event was replaced in 1998 by the Cayman Islands International Tournament, a five-day catch-and release competition that’s held annually in late April. (See my April blog about the first blue marlin caught from a sailboat during a Cayman Islands tournament.)       

The highlight for me in June of 2008 was being joined on the boat by my wife Gillian on Father’s Day.  Supporting me before and during our 21 years of marriage, Gillian has provided much encouragement, guidance and assistance with all of my endeavors.  She enables me to spend long hours in my art studio, helping with all of the administration, has put up with weeks of separation while I am on expeditions or attending art exhibitions, boat shows, and making public appearances — and she has been the wonderful mother of our two children.  She’s also my dearest of part-time fishing partners.  For the two of us, this was to be a memorable Father’s Day that began with a planned hour of trolling for marlin before joining a group of friends for a beach party at Rum Point.

Guy Harvey completes a painting of a blue marlin in his studio, just one of many such dynamic illustrations featured on Guy Harvey T-shirts and sportswear

Guy Harvey completes a painting of a blue marlin in his studio, just one of many such dynamic illustrations featured on Guy Harvey T-shirts and sportswear

With perfect June weather, I worked close to the drop-off near Rum Point, and after 45 minutes of trolling, the right short lure blew up with a big strike.  Immediately, the blue marlin started smoothly peeling line as I slowed the boat and helped Gillian bring in the other lines.  Just then, the short left rigger was slammed by another marlin, this fish using a different tact by jumping toward the horizon.  Gillian grabbed that rod and kept the second fish tight while I stayed busy working on the first one.  From that point on, it got a little crazy with a lot of running around the boat and switching rods each time either of the fish would change directions.  At last, we brought both marlin to the boat, where Gillian photographed the blues as I prepared to unbutton them.  Five minutes later, we were tying up to the other boats at Rum Point with two marlin release flags flying.  Moral of the story — take the wife fishing more often!  On the following day, fishing with friend and angler John Dinan, I released another blue marlin following a hookup off Northwest Point.         

With the end of June, I had successfully completed “half” of my mission of catching a blue marlin from Grand Cayman waters during each month of the year.  Throughout the first six months, the challenges had been many, and though overcoming them gave me a great deal of satisfaction, I was mindful that completing my goal during the second half of the year could prove to be an even more daunting task.  Summer on into fall can offer some of the year’s best fishing conditions in the Caribbean, but this is also a time of severe summer storms, even hurricanes.  Then, of course, comes early winter with windy and rough water periods.  Factor in my busy work and travel schedule, and the last six months of the year could prove to be very interesting.

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

 

 

May 12, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month| May 2010

Highlighting Guy's fishing in May was a blue marlin that staged an aerial display reminiscent of the featured on a number of Guy Harvey T-shirt designs

Highlighting Guy's fishing in May was a blue marlin that staged an aerial display reminiscent of the featured on a number of Guy Harvey T-shirt designs

The month of May is bordering prime time for blue marlin fishing in the waters around Grand Cayman Island, my home for the last decade.  In 2008, this was a month when continuing my quest to catch a blue marlin from my home waters during each month of the year would have seemed like a given — had it not been for my busy work schedule.  Of course, I had anticipated these kinds of challenges and more before I even began this pursuit.  For the most part, I would be limited throughout the year to fishing on weekends, and only those where I wasn’t traveling and when conditions appeared favorable.  My goal was attainable, but over the course of an entire year, it was going to be a tough one to achieve.

Complicating matters further was the fact that, more often than not, I would be fishing by myself or with just one other person (sometimes experienced and at other times not) aboard my relatively small 28-foot Scout center console.  I don’t have the bodies to work a typical bait and switch scenario; otherwise, I would.  My best chance, then, is to troll lures.  The blue marlin in the western Caribbean are generally small (120 to 160 pounds) but very aggressive, so the lures work well.  My lures of choice are most often Mold Craft Soft Heads — especially the Wide Range.  I seem to get most of my bites on the right short rigger where I run a black-and-red combination.  On the left short I usually run a black-and-red Super Chugger.  Completing the spread, I tend to run either a purple-and-black or a pink-and-white skirted combination on the long riggers, and on the stinger I troll a Junior Wide Range/ballyhoo combo.

I’ve had good success with single hook lure rigs, particularly since switching to Mustad 7691S hooks in 9/0 and 10/0 sizes.  This hook, sometimes called a tuna hook, has more of a curve than the regular J hook and sticks a lot better.  In 2007, I was only 4 for 16 in hooking up marlin that took my lures — a poor score.  Following the suggestion of Capt. O.B. O’Bryan, I changed to the Mustad hooks and my hookup ratio increased dramatically, as evidenced by my success during the first four months of my pursuit — and a trend that would continue throughout the remainder of the year.

Testing the on-the water advantages of the newest additions to his fishing sportswear line, Guy Harvey prepares to deploy a favorite blue marlin trolling lure

Testing the on-the water advantages of the newest additions to his fishing sportswear line, Guy Harvey prepares to deploy a favorite blue marlin trolling lure

Though finding time to fish in May was pretty tough, all efforts proved successful.  With fishing partner Jim Sedgley on board, we caught the biggest blue marlin of the year, to date, on the northeast corner of Twelve Mile Bank.  Estimated at 375 pounds, the big fish staged one of the most remarkable aerial displays I have ever witnessed from a blue marlin.  Perhaps part of the reason was that Sedgley made quick work of the big fish, bringing it in quickly, where it jumped repeatedly right next to the boat.  This was another one of those instances where I wished I had a video crew on board to capture the sensational action.  It was a mere 30 minutes between hookup and release of that amazing marlin, after which we hooked another big blue at the other end of the bank later in the day.  It too made some great jumps, but came unbuttoned in the process.

I was relieved to have been able to continue my streak of catching a marlin each of the first five months of the year, given my concerns going into May.  Adding to the satisfaction was the visions burned into my mind of one of the most memorable battles with a blue marlin that I had ever witnessed.  That had me eagerly anticipating June fishing, typically one of the very best times of the year to catch marlin around Grand Cayman Island, and a month where I hoped to pursue my quest in a more flexible and relaxed fashion.    

Guy Harvey

Check this blog next month for my adventures in June, 2008, as I continue my quest to catch a blue marlin every month of the year. 

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

Apr 9, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month | April 2010

His quick-dry Performance fishing shirt, new to the Guy Harvey Sportswear line, gets a good soaking from Guy's release of another blue marlin at boat-side

His quick-dry Performance fishing shirt, new to the Guy Harvey Sportswear line, gets a good soaking from Guy's release of another blue marlin at boat-side

April through June is generally considered the best time of the year to catch blue marlin in the waters around Grand Cayman.  This is tournament season, and April of 2008 offered a measure of added intrigue because new blue marlin records had been set early in the month at nearby Barbados (505 pounds) and Trinidad (824 pounds).  That had me eager with anticipation that big fish might move through our area, and a feeling that this could prove to be the opportune time for someone to break the Cayman Island blue marlin record of 584 pounds set back in 1984.  That fish serves as a benchmark for establishing the minimum qualifying weight for those who participate each April in the annual Cayman Islands International Tournament.  During the competition, any marlin caught that’s under 584 pounds must be released.  I’m proud to say that catch-and-release is alive and well in the Cayman Islands.

My opportunity to fish the four-day tournament, which took place from April 17 to 20, was at the invite of owner Fu Liem and Capt. David Carmichael aboard their 50-foot “sailboat” Java Knight.  It was a bit of an unconventional approach, but nevertheless, on April 19, our team made history by becoming the first to catch a blue marlin from a sailboat while fishing in a Cayman Islands tournament.  While under sail, we caught and released a 140-pound blue at the south end of Twelve Mile Bank, plus managed two other bites that day, one of which I estimated to be a marlin of about 350 pounds.

One of a number of Guy Harvey's paintings of a blue marlin intending to feed on dolphin fish, the same species Guy caught in April just prior to a marlin hookup

One of a number of Guy Harvey's paintings of a blue marlin intending to feed on dolphin fish, the same species Guy caught in April just prior to a marlin hookup

On the Thursday following the tournament, I boarded Makaira II after a day’s work to see if I could once again catch a marlin by myself.  With just a couple hours of fishing time to work with, I trolled up a big dolphinfish off Papagallo, then after a few circles in the same area, had a fine blue marlin inhale my shotgun. The fish pulled hard then jumped where I could see it was bigger than the usual.  It was a 45-minute battle of maneuvering the boat and fighting the fish before I could get the marlin close enough to grab the leader.  As I tried to hold her close and reach for my camera, the 300-pound class fish made a quick move and broke the leader.  Not bad, though, for a two-hour jaunt.  I had left at 3 p.m. and returned home by 5 — and I had extended my streak of catching a blue marlin from my boat for each of the first four months of the year.

A couple of days later, the really big blues that I was hoping, if not expecting to see migrate through Cayman waters finally did arrive.  During a charter trip aboard Hit ‘N’ Run, captained by Derrin Ebanks, the crew teamed up to catch a monster blue marlin that weighed 610 pounds, making it the largest fish of the species ever caught on rod and reel in the Cayman Islands.  It was an epic five-hour battle to subdue the record-size blue, but because several anglers took turns fighting the fish, it did not qualify as an official Cayman Islands line-class record.

Guy Harvey

Check this blog next month for my adventures in May, 2008, as I continue my quest to catch a blue marlin every month of the year

Mar 15, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month / March 2010

Winter turned to early spring as March arrived at the Cayman Islands.  I had chosen my fishing days wisely in February, avoiding winter rough water conditions and being rewarded with the catch of a blue marlin on each trip.  With the weather now improving, I was excited over the prospects of continuing my quest to catch at least one blue marlin each month of the year from my home waters.  Even more exciting, as a proud dad, was having my two children Jessica and Alexander — my best fishing and dive buddies — as mates to help in my endeavor.  Both attend school out of the country, and it is in March when they eagerly return home for spring vacation.     

For Jessica and Alex, style and comfort describe not only dad's new boat, but the new junior's T-shirts they're wearing, part of the Guy Harvey Sportswear line

For Jessica and Alex, style and comfort describe not only dad's new boat, but the new junior's T-shirts they're wearing, part of the Guy Harvey Sportswear line

My children are now teenagers, but both have been fishing and diving — and traveling — with me since a very early age.  In fact, Jessica caught her first blue marlin at the age of 5 on the first of many trips we’ve all made together to Tropic Star Lodge in Panama.  It was only the week before, while I was completing one of my paintings in my Cayman studio, that she had told me how much she wanted to catch a marlin.  Days later, we were on a Tropic Star sportfisher with old friend Stewart Campbell when a nice blue marlin ate the left rigger lure and began a wild dance across the surface behind the boat.  Jessica made straight for the chair.  “Daddy, daddy, that’s my marlin — please give me the rod!”  With the fish going ballistic, she insisted again, so as the big blue calmed down, we got her in the chair.  Stewart helped her get set with the rod, and with the skipper performing some exotic maneuvers, Jessica fought her prize for 55 minutes before the mate could finally grab the leader.  Following a spectacular series of leaps at the boat, we tagged and released the 400-pound blue marlin.  Jessica was thrilled and proceeded to finish off the day by catching and releasing four sailfish.  

Guy's many close encounters with blue marlin, above and below the surface, reflect in the accuracy of his illustrations as featured on Guy Harvey T-shirts and sportswear

Guy's many close encounters with blue marlin, above and below the surface, reflect in the accuracy of his illustrations as featured on Guy Harvey T-shirts and sportswear

Alex, who at the age of 4 was catching salmon on our trip to Alaska, has some special memories of times spent in Panama, as well.  Notable was his first grand slam in January, 2000, no doubt the first 7-year-old to catch a blue marlin, sailfish and black marlin on the same day in the new century.  Alex bravely fought the black for 65 minutes before needing an assist to bring the belly-wrapped fish to the boat, where the 450-pounder was tagged and released.  A year earlier, Alex and Jessica had a double hook-up on sailfish in the same waters, and the 108-pound and 75-pound fish respectively were recorded as IGFA Junior Angler World Records, two of the 23 such records the kids have held over the years.  Jessica’s 198-pound yellowfin tuna, caught on Panama’s Hannibal Bank when she was 11 years old, is still the junior angler record, as is her 79-pound almaco jack. 

So it goes without saying, the three of us had experience on our side when we set out to catch blue marlin in March.  With Grand Cayman’s easy accessibility to the ocean, we often plan our days on the water with two dives on the North Wall, but have the marlin gear on board so we can do some surface trolling between dives.  That plan proved successful for all three of our trips in March, resulting in blue marlin catches on the 2nd, 15th, and 20th.  On March 15, we managed two marlin hook-ups at the same time, and I saw a third blue come up on the teaser as I was slowing the boat so Alex could fight his fish.  Jessica caught and released a blue marlin of her own on March 20 as we trolled our way back from Twelve Mile Bank.  My new 28-foot Scout center console was proving to be a hot boat, and I now had caught blue marlin during each of the first three months of the year.

Guy Harvey

 

Check this blog next month for my adventures in April, 2008, as I continue my quest to catch a blue marlin every month of the year.

Feb 9, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month | February 2010

Fresh from my success in catching a blue marlin during the last week of January, I was anxious to continue my quest to catch at least one of these magnificent creatures each month from my home waters around Grand Cayman.  As February arrived, also “fresh” was my memory of last month’s dual hookups on blues at Twelve Mile Bank.  It should be no surprise then that I chose the bank as our destination when I fished with my brother-in-law Jonathan Collier, who made a February visit from Australia.  The day was relatively uneventful up until we finally hooked up with a blue marlin while trolling back from the bank.  During the lengthy battle, the jumping fish got wrapped up in the leader, but we were able to successfully release the 140-pounder at boat-side.

Guy finds the Performance fishing shirt and visor, recent additions to his line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, to be boat-worthy while trolling for marlin

Guy finds the Performance fishing shirt and visor, recent additions to his line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, to be boat-worthy while trolling for marlin

Next to visit, was friend and renowned English wildlife artist Ian Coleman. Ian dives a lot but he had never caught a blue marlin.  On February 25, after enjoying a fantastic morning dive at Tarpon Alley, we boarded my 26-foot center console, and once again I headed for the Twelve Mile Bank.  Our fishing activities were delayed when we encountered a broken-down boat that we towed back to West Bay, so we didn’t make it out to the bank until about noon.  Even at that, we were pleasantly greeted with an abundance of surface activity as frigatebirds worked over schools of feeding skipjack tunas.

It wasn’t long before we trolled up a marlin in our spread, but this first one embarrassed me — inspecting our offerings but then passing up all four lures! Feeling the frustration, I continued to circle the area until the left short rigger went down hard — blue marlin!  As Coleman was settling in his harness to prepare for his first-ever battle with a blue, the right rigger got bit — two on!  I left that rod in the holder while scrambling to retrieve the left flat when yet another blue marlin pounced on that lure.  Wow!  This was starting to feel like familiar territory.

The triple hook-up was short-lived, as the first marlin shook off quickly.  After another 10 minutes or so, the second fish came off, so Coleman was left to fight the third fish while I steered the boat.  It was a tough battle, but Ian got his first blue marlin, a fish I judged to be 170-plus pounds.  After a successful release, out went the lures again, and within 15 minutes, another marlin crashed the right long rigger and jumped going away.  Coleman was cooked, so I grabbed the rod and worked the fish to the boat, a blue that was smaller then our first at about 125 pounds.  That concluded 90 minutes of seemingly non-stop action where we scored five blue marlin bites and released two.

BLUE TANGO: Guy's painting portrays a blue marlin feeding on skipjack tunas, which was the case when he fished Twelve Mile Bank in February

BLUE TANGO: Guy's painting portrays a blue marlin feeding on skipjack tunas, which was the case when he fished Twelve Mile Bank in February

Two days later, on February 27, I snuck in my last blue marlin of the month while fishing with visiting angler Jim Armour.  We hooked up just off the area known as Papagallo on North West Point.  I was particularly excited because this was the first fish and the first marlin caught from my new 28-foot Scout Makaira II.  With a cold front approaching, we decide to squeeze the trip in before what would almost certainly be several days of rough seas.  Around Grand Cayman, the trick to fishing during the winter months is to carefully choose good weather days, as it does get very rough on the water with fronts bringing strong northwest then northeast winds.

— Guy Harvey

Check this blog next month for my adventures in March, 2008, as I continue my quest to catch a blue marlin every month of the year.

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.