Posts Tagged ‘Marlin’

May 23, 2013

Fishing Ain’t Just About Catching

Black Marlin - Panama
A few months ago I was looking up the current black marlin woman’s world record on 50 pound for a customer. I opened the “IGFA World Record Game Fishes” from the shelf on my desk. I opened the book to the marlin record pages, and Mike Levitt’s 737lb 7oz. Black Marlin world record on 12 pound in 1981 caught my eye. I knew exactly when that happened and memories flooded in.

That was the year of IGFA’s President’s, E.K. Harry’s big mistake, when he changed IGFA rules on the length of leaders to 30 feet on all classes. He was responding to a bunch of lazy charter boat captains who found it too hard to keep track of leaders of 15 and 30 feet in length.

Elwood shortened up the double line and leader combined length, but in so doing doubled the allowable leader length on light line. Mike Levitt and Capt. Paul Whelan had set a record that still stands and may not ever be beaten because the rules were changed again, after that one year.

Laurie Wright and the late Doug Haig were my crew. We made a deal with Al Hooper. We used his little trawler yacht, “Cheryl Ann” as a mother boat and fished double or nothing for a world record on 6 or 12 pound line. Al would pay nothing if we failed to get a record and double if we did. Laurie, Doug and I, and the boat owner, went all in for the deal.

With all that much leader we got our chances. We had several 700 pounders on the wire. We broke several leaders and had one jump through, and break the outrigger halyards. At one point Al offered to pay for the whole charter, but not double, if we would let him switch to 30 pound line.

We turned him down and lost the bet! He paid for all our fuel and gave us all a nice tip. None of us will ever forget those two weeks of crazy fishing! The next year the IGFA changed the leader length back for the lightest line classes.

It’s funny that a trip in which we were not successful was one of the best and most fun we ever had! I will never ever forget the details of that trip

Good Fishing,
Peter B

Nov 20, 2012

You CAN Fish in Rough Water

The weather forecast was for 25 to 30 knot winds as a strong high pressure system south of the Australian continent built a strengthening ridge along Australia’s Queensland coast. Yesterday had dawned calm, but as the wind increased from a gentle breeze to a 15 to 20 knot trade wind a sea had started to build. Late in the afternoon, we saw the first of several black marlin surfing down the growing chop and rising swell. By evening, we had tagged and released 3 marlin, breaking a week long spell of slow fishing which had seen only an occasional marlin rising to our baits in the hot, calm, November weather.

Over breakfast that morning, our charter guest looked at the white caps on the sheltered water behind number 5 ribbon reef and watched the booming ocean swell outside the reef crash onto the reef front. “I don’t think I want to fish today.” he said. “I’d rather just lie around the mother boat and read.” “You don’t mind if we go, do you?” was my reply. “The boys and I have been waiting for this. Those tailers we saw yesterday should be just the start of it. Every black marlin in the Coral Sea will have tailed in against the reef overnight, and if they eat like the ones did yesterday it’ll be the best day all year!”

Our charter’s friend and fishing companion/guest said he would like to join us if we didn’t mind. After a relaxing morning on “mom” we set out just before noon. “As rough as it is, we won’t be in any hurry.” I told the crew. “If it’s as good as I think we’ll have all we need. If it’s slow, we’ll have more than we want—even with a late start.”

A "Good" Day on the GBR, Australia!

Overnight, the swell had built, but had time to get farther apart than the uncomfortable, short, steep, chop of the late afternoon of the day before. Duyfken could rise with the large (12 foot plus) seas instead of crashing against the steep faces of yesterday’s smaller, but far more nasty chop. By 1:30 PM, we were back at the motherboat having released 3 marlin and boated one well over 1,000 pounds. My mate had to lean out over our transom and knock vigorously on the motherboat’s wooden hull to roust the sleepers inside to weigh our guest’s fish of a lifetime. His richer, but less adventuresome, friend has still never caught a really big marlin, even though we went back out and released several more nice ones later that day.

If the fishing grounds are close enough to a safe harbor or anchorage, we can fish in some truly rough water. In areas where we have to travel long distances to and from the grounds, we usually stay in on days we would relish in a spot like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where yards, rather than miles, measure the distance to the fishing grounds.

Even so, on rough days, special tactics are often required. On really rough days, with heaving decks, stand up fishing is a BAD idea. Trying to maintain balance with both hands occupied is difficult and dangerous. It can be safe to fish even the heaviest tackle from a well-built fighting chair, but foolish to try to stand up against the transom of a wave-tossed sport fishing boat. Even with expert professional crew, it is the question of their safety while trying to stand up and handle a fish on the leader—that is often the main reason for my canceling a trip due to rough weather.

Trolling tactics also have to be modified to suit the conditions. Forget all the hokus pocus about trolling lures on exact positions on the wake. Climbing the face of big seas trolling speeds will drop and rise with the waves. Downsea speeds can jump from 6 or 7 to up to 12 or 14 knots as we surf down the wave fronts. Our wake is changing all over the place and complicated calm water lure shapes are useless in the rapidly changing conditions. (Don’t tell me to only quarter the sea – I AM going to get in front of that tailing marlin or tuna regardless of whether it is upsea, downsea or directly in the trough!!)

Forget staggered trolling patterns. On high wind days troll paired baits or lures of equal weight, equidistant behind the transom. They will be less prone to tangle each other when blown sideways. Trolling fewer baits in rough weather makes life easier and raises overall efficiency.

I always fight fish by chasing them in forward gear rather than reverse. This is especially important in big seas when backing up into breaking waves is down right dangerous — and STUPID. By motoring forward upsea and passing the fish, you reach a position where you can back up downsea in the final manuever of the fight.

In the end it is the safety of the boat and her crew that dictates whether we go or not and it is always better to err on the side of caution.

— Peter B Wright

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May 16, 2012

Satellite-Tagged Striped Marlin


Pulling Hard

The line snapped out of the Roller-Troller outrigger clip and the rod just barely bent, but no line was coming off the reel like you would expect with a typical striped marlin strike.  My son, Zane, looked at me and we both said the same thing…“Mako shark on the marlin lure”! 

Zane scrambled down the bridge ladder and grabbed the rod and started winding, but the fish just kept tracking along at the same speed as the boat.  Outdoor writer and good friend, Rich Holland, started clearing the other 3 trolling lines as Zane worked the fish closer to the boat.  Rich just got the last troller out of the water, when Zane said the double line was coming out of the water.  I looked over just in time to see the “mako shark” had grown a bill, as 150lbs of angry Catalina Island striped marlin exploded into the air just outside the port outrigger!

Rich, my son Zane (13) and I were off the east end of Catalina Island in Southern California trying to put a couple of the first Pop-up Satellite Archival Tags “PSATs” in our local stripers.  

At the ready

 A PSAT is an archival tag that is equipped to transmit the data via direct satellite upload when it “pops” to the surface. The PSAT’s major advantage is that it does not have to be physically retrieved like an archival tag for the data to be available. They have been used to track movements of ocean sunfish, marlin, sharks, tuna, swordfish and sea turtles. Location, depth, and temperature data are used to answer questions about migratory patterns, seasonal feeding movements, daily habits, and survival after catch and release. The sophisticated – and very expensive – $4000 PSAT tags had been supplied to us through the joint efforts of the Avalon Tuna Club, Paxon Offield and The Pfleger Institute of Technology (P.I.E.R).

We had been having a very successful marlin season on our boat “Kawakawa,” and were excited to be selected to place the tags.  But, with an outdoor writer and two expensive PSATs aboard, the pressure was on to get the job done!

Zane’s marlin gave us a good scrap, but on the 30lb tackle he was soon boat-side and ready to be leadered and PSAT tagged.  We were very careful to keep the marlin away from the props and also to keep him from hitting the side of the boat during the leadering and hook removal process.  Luckily the fish was hooked right in the corner of the jaw and cooperated well once I was able to grab his bill in preparation for tagging.  We removed the little magnet which was taped to the tag, and this turned on the PSAT transmitter.  We then carefully placed the tag at the base of the dorsal and gently released the striper.

Satellite Ready

After high-fives and victory shouts we put the lures back in and continued trolling up the famous Catalina Island east end ridge looking for another striper.  It didn’t take long before we were “wired” again on our second striper of the day in only 300 feet of water.  Rich graciously insisted young Zane take the second fish so he could shoot photos.  Twenty minutes later we had the fish to leader and were able to place our second PSAT in a perfectly healthy Catalina Island striped marlin!

We learned several months later from PIER scientist Dr. Michael Domeier, that one of our stripers immediately left Catalina water after we placed the PSAT and charged straight south 400 miles, where the tag stopped transmitting off Cedros Island in Baja, Mexico.  Domeier theorized that the marlin had possibly been eaten by a predator, due to the data profile he received from the PSAT.

We were stunned and disappointed to learn that our second PSAT tagged marlin was re-caught the same afternoon after we placed the tag!  It turns out the fish was re-caught by a boat fishing in a tournament which was held the same day we were out.  Sadly, the fish was killed and the PSAT was removed by the boat that caught the fish.  Dr. Domeier later recovered the PSAT and was able to upload the few hours of data from the overly-hungry striped marlin.

We were thrilled and honored to be one of the first boats in California to place a PSAT in a striped marlin.  Since that day back in 2004 there have been many stripers PSAT tagged off Mexico, and a few more have even been tagged in Southern California.  The data gleaned from the PSATs has greatly increased the knowledge base of the striped marlin’s habits at this northern limit of their usual range.  

 — Greg Stotesbury

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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

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  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 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:


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Jan 11, 2012

Old Dog New Tricks

A big bonito was splashing along from the left outrigger leaving a hefty wake. A small mackerel-like scad trailed from the right outrigger and was swimming beautifully below the surface of the Coral Sea. We were trolling at 5 knots. These are my two favorite baits for the giant black marlin that roam Australia’s Great Barrier Reef during the southern hemisphere’s Spring spawning aggregation of these mighty marine predators. I consider this combination the “marlin equivalent” of the steak and lobster dinner humans call “surf and turf”.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is the spawning ground for giant black marlin which arrive in the fall each year

When the strike came, it was an attack upon neither of my favorite natural baits, but because of what I had previously derided as such a poorly performing artificial lure, I had refused to use it. Moldcraft’s “Spooler” does not perform well at the high speeds at which I normally troll artificial lures. It is prone to leap out of waves and tumble over, often tangling the hooks and skirts, especially on rough days when the boat would surf and change speed and wake patterns, especially on down sea tacks. I didn’t like the look of the thing out of water and hated the way it ran. It sat, unrigged, in the tackle drawer for over a year.

“You’re missing out Peter B.” John Phillips told me. “You won’t believe how good it works at slow speeds. I call it the ‘scad’. You really ought to try it.” “That’s because you can’t catch scad.” I needled him. “And I’ve told you where to go and on what tide.” “No it’s not. Even when I do I have scad, the “spooler” really works. Try it, I promise you— it works great at low speed. I even use it with live bait sometimes, and just the other day, it got bit instead of the livey!” Phillips replied.

A few days later we were fishing together with a group of friends from the Canary Islands sharing our two boats. It was calm and I had plenty of big baits. Late in the afternoon I wanted to look over a sunken patch of reef in shallow water that held enough toothy critters like wahoo, sharks, barracuda, and large mackerel, to make fishing live bait out of the question. In short, there was no need for the small bait lure I usually pull down the center. I might as well give the spooler another try. Minutes later we were releasing a 200 pound black marlin that passed up the surf and turf combo for a handful of junk food!

Moldcraft’s “spooler” is a soft plastic lure modeled after earlier, homemade, lures that were constructed from discarded wooden spools that had been filled with sewing thread. The “spooler” had a nifty action at the five to six knot speeds that I use for dead bait. But the hydrodynamic instability that worked against it at high speed became an asset. The lure head wiggled and wobbled violently leaving a stream of bubbles (or “smoke” as fanatical fishheads call it) combined with a lively swimming action.

The next day we had three strikes. We caught one marlin on a natural dead bait and caught one and lost one on the lure. “A couple of more days like this and I’ll be a believer!” I told Phillips on the VHF radio. I became a “Spooler” fan! Dead bait anglers, or even live bait anglers, for any species of billfish, should try adding a spooler approximating the size of their natural bait to their spread. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Peter B

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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 or NCMC

— Bill

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May 13, 2011

Blue Marlin Fishing After Filming Grouper Documentary- Part II

Day 3 had calmer weather and we went out wide of the island and soon found a circling frigate bird. Under this was a big female dolphin, but she looked at a couple of lures and went away. Shortly afterwards, the first blue for day showed up and took a couple of bites on the long right before fading off.

We trolled west to the 12 mile bank and as we got to the NE corner, Derrin spotted a pair of fins stationary at the surface. I raced up the ladder to have a look…swordfish! No doubt. It was sunning in the middle of the day on the flat calm surface. As we trolled closer, the fish stirred, swam and then went under. We circled the area, and not three minutes later, the sword came up on the long right lure, bill out and took a slash at the lure, before going about its business. Derrin nearly fell off the flybridge in his excitement.

A little later, Derrin got a radio call from a local fisherman, Ferris Ebanks Cayman’s “old man”. He was drifting chunks for yellowfin and had just hooked a marlin so was going to pass it over to us to catch and tag. In Cayman, the local fishermen generally release the marlin they hook while fishing for tuna.

Alex Harvey waiting for the bite

Alex took the rod, and settled down for a fight. The local anglers use 80# line straight to the hook so there was no leader, and Alex had to use a light drag. After ten minutes the marlin jumped about three hundred yards away and we backed down on the belly in the line recovering it all and got over the marlin. It was beautiful swimming about thirty feet down, face and bill lit up neon blue as was its tail. I used my underwater video on the swim platform to get shots. The surface was so calm you could see the fish clearly. Time to go in!

I did a couple of passes on the marlin and realized I could overtake the fish and deploy the PSAT underwater without ever having to wire the fish and risk breaking the light leader. So said…so done. George got the necessary footage and just then the thin leader broke at the circle hook and the 175# blue marlin swam off carrying a PSAT. I had not more tags on board.

We headed east again up the north side of the bank, saw a marlin free jumping and headed over to the spot…kaboom! An agitated 150# blue took to the air, and it was Andi’s turn again on the 30# tackle. The marlin made some awesome jumps coming at the boat, and going across the stern before sounding. George was excited. All good, Andi pumped the marlin to the boat, and I went for the usual swim to get the release on film. Glenn and Alex did the honors and the marlin swam off hastily.

We immediately started trolling again and as Andi was letting out his line, a marlin ate the lure and started thrashing around behind the boat. We all looked at each other in amazement. How often does that happen? Alex was up and fought the fish to a standstill without any jumps in short order, and we called the marlin 300# and cut her off quickly, a very green fish.

This was the first time George had been marlin fishing. He certainly was thrown in at the deep end and was able to shoot a lot of great footage. No more bites for the day, and we ended up 3 for 4 on marlin for the day, 4 for 7 on the shoot. I was very proud of the crew, Captain Derrin and Glenn, who did a great job and I would recommend them to anyone visiting Grand Cayman who wants to do some big game fishing, or charter them for a tournament.

On day 4 George and I went to the sandbar early before any of the tour boats arrived and we had the stingrays to ourselves. They exhibit schooling behavior which is unusual for a typically solitary predator, and I wanted to capture some of this behavior on film. We then had another great wall dive accompanied by eagle rays and turtles, jacks and groupers, as well as the odd lionfish.

Next on the agenda were interviews with the Director of the Department of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petri and the Deputy Director Timothy Austin. Each gave solid interviews about the value of the scientific work being done by REEF and collaborating scientists and how valuable this last remaining Nassau grouper SPAG(Spawning Aggregation) site was to the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean as a whole.

It’s a wrap. We did more shooting around town and in the Guy Harvey Gallery and Shoppe and across the road at the original Guy Harvey Island Grill. George Town is a popular destination for cruise ship visitors and stay –over visitors and they enjoy the tranquility and cleanliness of these islands while browsing the shops, restaurants and beaches.

I am confident that this documentary will tell the success story of how the research effort and conservation of the last remaining Nassau grouper spawning site in the central and western Caribbean may see the beginning of a recovery of this overexploited species. Indeed, it is a success story with which the people and government of the Cayman Island should be very proud.

The Marine Conservation Board will meet within the next month to determine whether protection for the spawning sites should be extended. It seems to be common sense to protect any species at times of spawning but, particularly the Nassau grouper, which has been brought to the very edge of extinction throughout its geographic range by lack of proper management and just sheer human greed.

Enough already! Let’s get this done.

Dive safely fish responsibly. 

—Guy Harvey

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Sep 24, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month | September

A DNA sample showed that what looked more like a spearfish was actually one of the smallest blue marlin ever caught on rod and reel

July and August were such busy months, filled with business and family commitments, that I felt blessed to have made the most of so little time on the water in continuing my streak of catching a blue marlin from Cayman Island waters each month of the year.  With the arrival of September, I could foresee more time to fish, but an urgency remained of catching a marlin this month because of the one element I had no control over — the weather.  It was the beginning of hurricane season in the Caribbean, and we had already been brushed by “Gustav” on August 28 and 29, a category 4 storm that inflicted serious damage to Jamaica and Cuba, but fortunately spared Grand Cayman from the fate it suffered four years earlier.  That September of 2004, we took a direct hit from “Ivan,” also a category 4 hurricane, and packing 155 mph winds during a 36-hour onslaught, it almost completely flooded the island with sea water and caused $2 billion in damage.  So when only six days after “Gustav” passed, another category 4 storm, Hurricane “Ike,” was forecast to be heading our way, I thought there might be no better time to catch my September blue marlin than right away.

On the morning of September 5th, I launched my 28-foot Scout Makaira II, and was joined by my daughter Jessica for a last fishing trip just before she would be leaving to begin college at Edinburgh University in Scotland.  We headed west to the pinnacle off North West Point, and it wasn’t long before we got bit far back on the shotgun lure.  That’s where I often put a smaller trolling lure to entice other species besides blue marlin.  I was busy clearing lines and looking the other way when Jessica saw the hooked fish jump, but she said the only distinguishing characteristic that caught her eye was a short bill.  As she reeled the fish closer, I thought she was mistaken or pulling my leg, as it looked like a wahoo with its dark body and vivid stripes.   When I grabbed the leader, I finally got a good look at the fish, and she was dead on.  It was indeed a small billfish, but one that was not easy to identify.  The fish jumped around frantically, exhibiting all of the anatomical characteristics of a longbill spearfish, except that the bill was very short.  My other thought was that it just might be a juvenile blue marlin of about 15 pounds, so before we let the small scrapper go, I took a small tissue sample.

Though Guy has no photos to commemorate the largest blue marlin he has caught in Cayman Island waters, his paintings like "Blue Rampage" serve as a tribute to such a great fish

I followed up by sending the sample to Dr. John Graves at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and when the DNA analysis came back, it confirmed the fish as a blue marlin, likely only six to eight months old.  I had seen 43- and 48-pound blues in Jamaica, but this was certainly the smallest blue marlin I had ever encountered.  Dr. Eric Prince later e-mailed me photos of two other blues of that size, one caught in Puerto Rico and the other at St.Thomas in the Virgin Islands.  These three fish stand as the only blue marlin specimens of this size known to science.  Rarely do researchers see blue marlin so small because most marlin anglers troll with lures that are too large for catching juvenile fish.  Blue marlin grow fast, reaching 60 pounds or more in their first year.

Three days later, Hurricane “Ike” was barreling across Cuba, but stayed far enough to the north as to not have much impact on the Cayman Islands.  The day following my birthday, on September 17, I was on the water again and fought the biggest blue marlin I’ve ever caught in the Caymans — a fish in excess of 400 pounds.  The big blue snatched the shotgun lure but did not jump, and because the bite was so solid and close to the wall off Papagallo, I first thought we snagged a dive mooring.  My son, Alex, was manning the wheel and did a great job while I fought the fish, but because the blue never did jump and ultimately broke the leader at the boat, we have no photo record of my biggest catch.  The upside, though, is I kept my goal intact to catch a blue marlin from Cayman Island waters during each month of the year.

Guy Harvey

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

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Mar 29, 2010

What Marlin See

How much of the color range a marlin can see is still an open question

How much of the color range a marlin can see is still an open question

Among the questions I get asked the most, two of the most frequent are: “What colors do you prefer in marlin lures?” or “Can marlin see color?”

Answer number one is “I don’t really care” — which is only partially true.  I tend to prefer colors that I can see.  I like colors that allow me to quickly see the lure when I glance back at the baits.  Red catches my eye and so does white.  Purple isn’t bad, and an orange and black combo is quickly picked up by my eye when I look back at the lure spread.

I also like colors that remind me of something that actually exists in the world of marlin food stuff.  Blue and white reminds me of flying fish.  Both purple, and a combo of red, white, and blue look a lot like the color I see when I get a side view of skip jack tuna surfing down the waves.  Yellow and green is the color of small dolphin fish and some of the scad mackerel that most bill fish regularly snack on.  I have had great success on chocolate or reddish brown lures that look to me like squid and stay down and DON’T make a bubble trail.  I think it doesn’t really matter.

The answer to the second question is “No one really knows.”  We have a few ways of making educated guesses but there is still some argument among the top bill fish scientists about what bill fish can see.

There is no doubt that some fish (including tuna) have excellent color vision.  The rainbow hued reef fish species that divers and snorkelers revel in should have color vision — Why else would they be colored like that? — and they do.  They live near the surface where all the colors of the spectrum still exist and use color displays for a wide range of behavior including mating, species recognition, and territorial defense.

Bill fish cannot be kept alive in a confined space.  We can only look at their eyes and compare them to the eyes of other species: fish, mammals, or reptiles and compare the physiology.  From sophisticated experiments on other animals we know which types of cells are necessary to see color.   Marlin eyes are mainly lacking in the types of cells known as “cone” cells needed for color vision.

Scientists can also analyze the chemicals present in the specialized cells that send the signals to the brain.  Marlin retinal cells have a high proportion of the photo active chemicals known from other species to respond to the wave lengths of light in the part of the spectrum we call blue but have little of the chemicals for other colors.  The inference has been that marlin see mainly shades of blue (the only color left at extreme depths), but can’t distinguish between other colors and are “color blind”.  A new study by an Australian researcher indicates that marlin might have some limited ability to perceive color.

The only CERTAIN thing about lure color is that if the lure does not first attract a fisherman it will not get used.  If it does not get used it will not get bitten.  No marlin, anywhere in the world, has ever stolen a lure from a tackle shop or out of a tackle drawer.

I once brought in a particularly ugly, over skirted, all white with rust stains, lure, that ran like an old rag that a client had asked me to put out.  When asked why, I said, “it didn’t run very well as it had too many skirts.”

 “I’ve already weighed one over 1,000 pounds and another over 900 pounds on that lure” was the hurt reply at my rejection of his favorite lure.
Needless to say I put it back out and left it out!!!

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 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.