The blue marlin is the biggest of the Atlantic marlins and also one of the largest and most beautiful fish in the world. But don’t be fooled by its striking appearance because it has the ability to wear down an angler. It’s born to fight and will not yield to a rod easily; so if you’re yearning for a memorable tug-of-war at sea, it might just be the one for you.
These pelagic and migratory species spend most of their lives far out at sea and they inhabit tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Here in Cabo San Lucas, the marlin is the main star of the sea that’s why it holds the privilege of being called the “Marlin Capital of the World”. Angling enthusiasts from different parts of the globe visit the nutrient-rich waters of Los Cabos for a catch to get their hands on this legendary blue game. Many angling tournaments are also staged here to take advantage of the prolific blue marlin angling.
Blue marlins are easily recognizable for their cobalt-blue top coloring and silvery-white bottom. They have a distinctive high dorsal fin, pointed anal fin, and a long, spear-shaped upper jaw. Females are significantly bigger than males and they can grow up to 14 feet in length and weigh as much as 1,985 pounds. Landing one over 1,000 pounds, referred to as a “grander” is considered an incredible feat in sport angling but the average size is around 11 feet and between 200-400 pounds.
In terms of diet, they like to feed on mackerel and tuna but they also have a weakness for tasty squid. They use their natural gift of speed and lethal spears to attack schools of their prey and enjoy picking off shocked and wounded individuals.
How to get a blue marlin strike
Although it’s possible to catch a Blue on lighter outfits, it’s recommended to use a dependable, balanced ocean trolling outfit in the 50-pound and up to 80-pound line class.
Based on experience, bait yields higher strikes than lures since marlins, in general, have a tendency to be suspicious of lures. In fact, they have a knack for inspecting lures up close and might not strike often because they doubt whether or not it is actually a real fish. They are known to nibble at lures and quickly lose interest when they realize that it’s not a yummy meal after all. Obviously, you don’t have to worry about this when using baitfish because it will not hesitate to go after a familiar prey such as a fairly big and live bonito or false albacore. These can be bridled through the nostrils using a rigging needle and thread to a size 14/0 circle hook. Natural dead baits such as mackerel, barracuda, mullet, ballyhoo, and squid are also irresistible to these ocean predators.
However, lures are constantly improving and the new ones in the market are far more effective than they were several years ago. Lures are also bigger which makes them easier to spot by ocean predators. Although bait is cheaper, lures can be more cost-effective when you think of it on a long-term basis. Bait has to be purchased fresh every time you head out at sea and they naturally disintegrate especially during long hours of trolling while lures remain intact and can be used repeatedly with proper care. Some artificial baits nowadays also emit certain smells that entice big game.
The choice between using natural bait or lures is really up to you. But it’s better to have both on board so you can determine what works best during your trip.
You can choose between a single-hook or double-hook rig; just make sure that your lure hook-sets are durable to withstand the brute strength of your targeted species. Although both are effective, the single-hook rig is safer for both the crew and the catch. For instance, if a deckhand is trying to unhook one for release, he might get hit by the extra hook swinging by. Another thing, two-hook rigs can “lip-latch” the fish and in the event that it breaks away before the crew could remove both hooks, the ocean predator might have difficulty hunting and eventually starve.
Patience is an important ingredient when targeting this species because it often involves trolling during daylight for hours. Recommended trolling speed is generally around 8 to 10 knots and the captain adjusts the throttles depending on the current, wind, and tide. An example of a good spread is a general “W” trolling pattern which keeps the lures riding on the downsides of your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd boat wakes. Troll along areas of “bluewater” because it’s usually an indication of nutrient-rich areas that lures baitfish and consequently brings out the big game.
When you finally get a strike, your long wait is rewarded with a tremendous fight that jolts your adrenaline. If you’re new to marlin angling, don’t worry because you will instantly know when you get a strike as the line is ripped out of the rigger and the reels begin to scream. When the captain of your boat screams, “Big fish on!” or something to that effect, then it means the battle is on!
Despite their humongous size, Blues are fast swimmers and once hooked, be ready for an acrobatic aerial showdown! Have you ever seen a fish dance on water? Well, these strong fighters will dazzle you with their dance steps and leaping prowess on the end of your line. This is probably why they have gotten a legendary status among serious anglers around the world.
If you’re fighting against a 100-200 pounder, you can use a stand-up belt but you might need to use a fighting chair for a 300-pounder and up. Pump and reel in short, quick strokes in order to gain line. You can achieve this by sliding back in the seat and positioning the rod tip to a 60-degree angle then reeling down to put line back. Keep repeating the process to gain more line. Don’t reel when the ocean predator runs and jumps because it will just drain your energy. The key to success is taking it slow and steady until your catch runs out of power juice. When your opponent gets worn out and you successful bring it boatside, you can take a couple of good shots to remember your triumphant moment. The crew can help you dislodge the hook from its mouth so you can release it back to the water.
If you want to strike the blue marlin off from your bucket list, you can charter a fishing boat in Cabo San Lucas and use this guide to increase your odds of hooking one.