There is no fight like the fight of a Marlin. This is the prized fish of most saltwater anglers all over the world. They span almost all of the waters of the globe and can be caught by a variety of methods at various times of year in many diverse places. Marlin fishing is considered by some game fishermen to be the pinnacle of offshore game fish, due to their power, size and the relative rareness. It is an expensive hobby, requiring considerable money to pursue on a regular basis, single day of Marlin fishing can cost over $1000. They are possibly the most well-known fish in the entire world which probably accounts for millions of dollars in commerce spent hunting them. The novel by Ernest Hemingway, "The Old Man and the Sea" chronicles the struggle of a Marlin fisherman who after 85 days of failure, ventures out to sea to change his luck and catch a Marlin. Hemmingway frequently fished for Marlin, quite successfully with his family.
Pacific Black Marlin
Blue Marlin are found in both Atlantic and Pacific waters. Scientists distinguish between two species of Blue Marlin, the Atlantic Blue Marlin and the Pacific Blue Marlin but large percentages of Blue Marlin found in the Atlantic are actually the same genetically as Pacific Blue Marlin. If you are just an angler and not a scientist, the differentiation is completely insignificant. The oldest known Blue Marlin is the 1656 lb. Blue Marlin caught in 1984 and aged by biologists at 32 years. Blue Marlin adult males seldom exceed 300 lb. (150 kg) whereas females may reach far larger sizes well in excess of 1,000 lb. (450 kg).
Blue Marlin are eclectic feeders preying on a wide range of prey species and sizes. Scientific examination of Blue Marlin stomach contents has yielded organisms as small as miniature filefish. Common food items include tuna-like fish (particularly skipjack tuna and frigate mackerel or frigate tuna), squid, mackerel and scad, actually they'll eat any fish they can see, chase and catch. A 6 foot (almost 2 meter) White Marlin was found in the stomach of a 448 lb. (203 kg) Blue Marlin caught at Walker's Cay in the Bahamas. As recently as the 2005 White Marlin Open, a 70 lb. (~30kg) White Marlin was found in the stomach of one of the winning Blues. 100 lb. (45 kg) Yellow Fin Tuna are frequently found in the stomachs of large Blue Marlin. It is not uncommon behavior for billfish to work cooperatively to feed. Sometimes when approaching bait busting on the water in a nice tight ball, you will see two or three Marlin corralling the bait and keeping the bait ball tight while the rest of the school takes turns feeding.
In addition to spawning in tropical waters many Blue Marlin remain in tropical waters year round where food is plentiful. Spawning locations are believed to include the islands of the Caribbean in the western Atlantic, the Gulf of Guinea in the eastern Atlantic, Hawaii, and Mauritius (a small island east of Madagascar). Warm currents such as the Gulf Stream in the western Atlantic and the Agulhas current in the western Indian Ocean are warm water highways for Blue Marlin migration. This explains why Marlin are caught in non-tropical places like Maine & Massachusetts.
Without belaboring the minor difference between the various types of Marlin, there are a few points that make the Black Marlin different than the Blue. The Black Marlin are found in the Indo-Pacific and east Pacific oceans from near the surface and in depths of 3,002 ft. (1000 meters). There is no Atlantic Black Marlin; they are only in the Pacific. It is known as the largest commercial fish with a maximum published length of 4.65 m (15.3 ft.) and weight of 750 kg (1,700 lb.) but there is constant debate regarding this topic as mentioned above. This Marlin is second of the fastest fish on earth reaching speeds up just under 70 mph (110 km/h). When fishing for Black Marlin, the same techniques used for Blue Marlin are successful. This fish is highly prized if caught; in fact very few successful, accomplished fishermen can actually say that they have caught a Black Marlin.
White Marlin are only in the Atlantic Ocean, unlike the Black which are only Pacific based fish. They are the smallest of the Marlin species but sought after for their speed, agility and amazing leaping ability. These fish are streamlined and display their elegant beauty while making fantastic leaps and speed when making blistering runs. They are the premier light-tackle offshore game fish. White Marlin are distributed throughout the tropical Atlantic waters. They make seasonal runs following the Gulf Stream up the Atlantic Ocean as far north as the Blue Marlin go. They will often hunt and forage in warm, shallow water, well inshore of the continental shelf. They are very fast and take advantage of the plentiful baitfish there by means of ambush attack. They are smaller than other Marlin species, but usually bigger than sailfish. White Marlin may reach a potential maximum size of ~220 lb. (100 kg). The International Game Fish Association all-tackle record is 181 lb.
The striped Marlin is the Pacific version of the White Marlin in the Atlantic. While bigger than the White, the Striped Marlin is the smallest of the Pacific Marlin. It is found in tropical waters to temperate Indo-Pacific oceans as far north as Japan and south to Argentina in South America. They are abundant around Baja Peninsula in Mexico (Cabo is a well-known hunting ground) Hawaii, New Zealand, Madagascar and the south eastern coast of Africa. They do not usually no far from the surface and are often referred to as the "flying dagger" as they too can hit speeds around 70mph (~110kph). It is a large fish with a record weight of 420 lbs. (190kg), they are believed to be capable of reaching 500 lbs. (227kg) and a maximum length of ~14 ft. (4 meters). The striped Marlin is a predator that hunts during the day usually close to the surface but also in depths of 30 ft. (~100 meters) preying on baitfish, squid and whatever else might peak their interest. A favorite food of Striped Marlin is sardines, which are also very fast swimmers, making this predator/prey relations the fastest know hunt in the world. They like the other Marlin species, hunt as a co-op and ball bait, each taking their turns at feeding. In clear blue waters this is an amazing site.
Gear & Technique
Marlin are without a doubt, the fastest, strongest, biggest & baddest fish you will ever attempt to catch on a fly. One of the things that make any Marlin so special is the water walk it takes after being hooked. It literally will shoot across the water making fantastic leaps and dance on its tail while attempting to spit your hook. The larger fish tend to jump less, mainly because of their weight but they are all ferocious fighters and never give up. They have a wicked strike and after setting the hook, there's no question that you are in for the fight of a lifetime. Billfish like Marlin, swordfish, and saifish would be apex predators if it weren't for the sharks. Sharks and marine mammals like the killer whales are the only species in the ocean strong enough and fast enough to take down a Marlin. It usually happens when they are injured or sick, or on the end of a fisherman's line. In Australia, it is not uncommon to have a large hammerhead or a great white that shows up to ruin a great day of fishing.
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