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October 12, 2001

Black Marlin Versus Blue Marlin

Capt. Peter Wright Sheds Some Light on the Differences and Similarities Between Big-Game Fishings Dynamic Duo

Although the pursuit of black and blue marlin stokes a fire in the bellies of big-game fishermen the world over, most of us only get the chance to target one of these two species on a regular basis. And since black marlin live only in the Pacific, it can be a relatively time-consuming and expensive proposition for anglers living in the states to get a shot at a black - with trips to Ecuador, Cabo San Lucas, Costa Rica or Panama providing the closest real shots.

Consequently, there are many experienced big-game anglers on this side of the world who have never even seen a black marlin, let alone fished for one. Pacific anglers, on the other hand, enjoy the privilege of getting shots at both species and therefore have a leg up on the rest of us when it comes to knowing how to react when either of these fish makes an appearance behind the long rigger.

Even with all of the angling and scientific effort targeting these two species, there is still a tremendous amount that we don't know for sure about either - basic information like maximum size attained, life span, spawning habits and how deep they can dive in search of food.

Since science hasn't yet solved some of the mysteries surrounding these great fish, we've turned to one of the few men who could be called an expert on how both black and blue marlin behave behind a sport-fisher. Splitting time between blue-marlin hot spots in the Atlantic and along Australia's Great Barrier Reef for blacks, Capt. Peter B. Wright has attained a wealth of knowledge about each of these fish. From both his time on the water and his extensive research, Wright manages to extract practical information from what he has learned that can help you become a better marlin fisherman - whichever species you choose to pursue.

Different Neighborhoods
Although most people think of blue and black marlin as open-ocean, blue-water game fish, only blue marlin fit that description. "Most scientists consider black marlin a continental shelf species associated with major land masses and not a true oceanic species that can be found "thousands of miles from nowhere," Wright says.

On the other hand, blue marlin roam freely throughout the world's oceans. "That's why our best blue-marlin fishing spots are just incidental little fly specks on a chart. These types of places just so happen to allow us access to the open ocean. Places like Hawaii, Bermuda, Madeira, Tahiti, the Azores, Mauritius and even the Virgin Islands are small places with access to very deep water. There are continental shelf areas that have good blue-marlin fishing, but they quite often end up being pretty far offshore and are usually associated with some bathymetric feature that interrupts the current - like the points and hollows along the edge of the continental shelf that can hold bait. But big blue marlin are almost always found in open ocean environments," Wright says.

Being the free-ranging fish that they are, blue marlin represent the only marlin species to be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific. But Wright has found little or no difference in the behaviors of blue marlin ca"ght in one ocean or the other. "The main difference seems to be more of a temperature factor rather than which ocean the fish is caught in. Blue marlin just don't seem to fight as hard when you get into the colder water. We were very surprised at how easily we caught "some of our big fish in Madeira," Wright says.